5 reasons why Richard Ayoade is the perfect host for The Crystal Maze
James R | On 27, May 2017
Richard Ayoade will host a new series of The Crystal Maze this June and we couldn’t be more excited.
The show was one of the best TV creations of the 1990s, airing from 1990 to 1995 and showcasing the attempts of contestants to complete skill, mystery, physical and mental challenges around the titular maze. Richard O’Brien was the original Maze Master guiding them through the strange labyrinth, before Ed Tudor Pole replaced him. Then, last year, the show returned out of the blue with Stephen Merchant on presenting duties.
That special, which saw celebrities compete for Stand Up to Cancer, was a hit, with a consolidated audience of 4.3 million viewers. And so Channel 4 has commissioned a brand new run of The Crystal Maze.
Produced by Fizz, RDF Television’s entertainment label, the 20-episode series will be filmed at The Bottle Yard Studios in Bristol, where a purpose-built maze spanning over 30,000 square feet is being created by the original Crystal Maze designer, James Dillon. It will once again be divided into the Aztec, Medieval, Industrial and Future zones, with contestants taking on the challenges to win time in the Crystal Dome across 20 episodes – including a set of further celebrity specials for Stand Up to Cancer.
All of this is already enormously exciting, but the best news of all is that none other than Richard Ayoade will be stepping into Richard O’Brien’s shoes to become the new Maze Master. Once rumoured to be in the running for the new host of Channel 4’s The Great British Bake Off, he’s a much better fit for this strange, smart franchise. And the first look of him in his Maze Master get-up, complete with insect-covered shirt, confirms it:
Not convinced yet? Here’s why Richard Ayoade is the perfect host for The Crystal Maze:
He’s good at watching people
The Maze Master may be the host of the show, but he spends most of the time watching other people fail at the simplest of tasks. Nobody does facial expressions quite like Richard Ayoade.
He can provide astute real-time commentary
While watching, it’s essential that we get a string of pithy observations on their progress and puzzle-solving strategy. Ayoade has more than enough experience there.
He’s cool in a heated situation
With a time limit on every challenge, and the threat of being locked in should the contestant fail to get the crystal before the clock hits zero, the teams on the show will need a calm, level-headed man to guide them through the panic.
He can say complicated words
The Crystal Maze is a strange place, with everything from Mumsy to lasers on the cards. A Maze Master must be able to tackle even the most unexpected terminology with an effortlessly twisting tongue. Being able to count in groups of five is also important. Fortunately, Richard’s been on Countdown. Sort of.
He may not be from this planet
What is The Crystal Maze exactly? It might be built in Bristol, but with its Aztec, Medieval and Futuristic zones, it’s either a series of portals spread across the multiverse or a time-travelling vehicle in its own right. Either way, what Richard O’Brien brought to the show that Ed Tudor Pole lacked was an otherworldly quality. After Stephen Merchant’s likeable, but very self-aware, turn as Maze Master, Ayoade is exactly the kind of mind to bring out the alien nature of this unusual programme. Precisely because he might just be an alien himself.
Main photo: Ray Burmiston