Since Stephen Merchant revived The Crystal Maze for Stand Up to Cancer in 2016, the classic game show has become a staple on our screens once more.
Renewed in 2017, celebrities are now putting their skills to the test in a range of challenges, as they battle through the labyrinth to win ‘time crystals’ for the show’s final challenge in the Crystal Dome.
The show has come a long way since its first instalment in 1990, when it was first intended as a British version of Fort Boyard before taking on a life of its own.
Here’s everything you need to know about the show’s new series – which kicks off with a celebrity special.
When is The Crystal Maze on TV?
The ninth series of The Crystal Maze (the third series since the show was revived) kicks off on Channel 4 on Friday 21st June at 8pm.
Who is the host of The Crystal Maze?
Former The IT Crowd star Richard Ayoade will be reprising his role as host for the third time. Ayoade took on the role after Stephen Merchant turned down hosting the show full-time following his tenure as presenter in the Stand Up to Cancer special in 2016. His knowing jokes and cerebral sense of humour have made him a huge hit with fans of the show.
Fans of The Crystal Maze will best remember the zany Richard O’Brien as the host for the show’s first four series – wearing a long fur coat and playing the harmonica, O’Brien set the tone for the series for years to come.
He was followed by the notably darker and more brooding Ed Tudor-Pole. While his energetic presenting style was also popular with fans, Tudor-Pole said in an interview in 2009, “frankly, I wasn’t sent to this world to present game shows.”
What are the zones in The Crystal Maze?
The labyrinth that makes up The Crystal Maze is divided into four sections.
Viewers will recognise the Aztec, Industrial and Futuristic sections, but the 2019 series will also see the addition of the brand new Eastern Zone, themed around East Asian culture with a lily pond and cherry blossom trees.
Each section will have a series of games or challenges for the team to go through.
• Physical – These are aimed at testing strength, agility and stamina,
• Mental – These are aimed at testing a contestant’s mental and memory skills
• Skill – These are aimed at testing a contestant’s eye-hand coordination and precision
• Mystery – These are aimed at testing a contestant’s problem solving abilities
Each challenge can see them win a number of time crystals, which give them an extra five seconds in the crystal dome at the end.
Who are the celebrity contestants in The Crystal Maze?
Gemma Collins, Dancing on Ice (ITV)
The first episode will see reality TV star Gemma Collins, along with TV presenter Carol Vorderman; comedian Ellie Taylor; reality TV star James “Arg” Argent and broadcaster and writer Rick Edwards take on the maze.
TV presenter Anita Rani captains a team with TV presenter and professional dancer AJ Pritchard; actor and comedian Tom Rosenthal; gold medal winning Paralympian Hannah Cockroft; and sports presenter Jeff Stelling.
Comedian Vic Reeves; TV personality Ferne McCann; former English cricketer Graeme Swann; and comedian and presenter Susan Calman will take on the maze with actress Nancy Sorrell at the helm.
Ackley Bridge actress Sunetra Sarker will attempt to steer politician Ann Widdecombe; Love Island star Wes Nelson; TV presenter Matthew Wright; and actress Nikki Sanderson to victory.
Comedian Al Murray; actress Kara Tointon; Hollyoaks actor Ashley Taylor Dawson; and reality TV star Olivia Attwood take on the maze with team captain TV and radio presenter Melvin Odoom.
Actor Steve Pemberton takes charge of professional dancer Oti Mabuse; reality TV star Jack Fincham; TV presenter Anna Richardson; and comedian Russell Kane are the final team.
The Crystal Maze returns Friday 21st June at 8pm on Channel 4