1. ‘The Crystal Maze’ is housed at The Bottle Yard Studios, which is near an industrial estate in Hengrove, Bristol.
2. The maze occupies 32,500 sq ft of space at the studio complex.
3. ITV gameshow ‘Tipping Point’ and Sky comedy series ‘Trollied’ are filmed there, while interior scenes for ‘Poldark’ and ‘Sherlock’ have also been shot in the studios.
4. There are eight cameras on set, including two jibs (the fancy ones that get the sweeping and overhead shots) and one steady cam for Richard’s pieces to camera. Other cameras then pop up in specially inserted windows in each of the game rooms.
5. A team of 136 production staff work on the show.
6. A series of 12 episodes of ‘The Crystal Maze’ can be made in two weeks, with around 100 hours of filming taking place.
7. Two civilian episodes can usually be filmed in a day, while a whole day is set aside to film a celebrity edition, in order to accommodate their schedules and needs.
8. The current maze was devised by James Dillon, who also designed the maze for the original series back in 1990.
9. He still had the original drawings from the set and it took him three months to come up with the new designs.
10. It took six weeks to build the new set from scratch the first time around.
11. Much of the scenery was made off-site and then transported to the studio where it was constructed and dressed.
12. In between series, only the Industrial and half of the Medieval zones are taken down and put into storage to save on studio costs.
13. Subsequently, it has only taken three weeks to rebuild the set for a new series.
14. The different zones are not actually connected, and you have to walk around the back of sets to get to the next one.
15. This series, bosses are introducing more shots that give the illusion of the transition in between zones, after feedback from fans.
16. The transitions were one of the things bosses cut down on when they revived the show due to time constraints. Each episode had a longer running time in the ’90s, as there were only two advert breaks in an hour-long programme, compared to the three we have now.
17. During the original series, the maze was actually all connected and you could walk (or run) from zone-to-zone.
18. Back then, it would take two days to film an episode, as there were only three cameras used to capture the action.
19. The contestants would play all the games for real on the first day, and then have to come back to film them playing them again so more camera angles could be captured.
20. The coins used in the maths games in the Medieval Zone feature the face of former presenter Richard O’Brien.
21. The ‘stones’ on the floor of the Medieval Zone are not stone at all and were recycled from another production, with a lot of the props also coming from a prop store.
22. There are 200 candles and 25 flaming torches used across the Medieval Zone to bring it to life.
23. The Aztec Zone features a 165ft hand-painted canvas hanging as a backdrop.
24. There are over 200 real plants in the Aztec Zone and over 18 tonnes of sand to make it look authentic.
25. The Futuristic Zone features an Air Lock. This is actually an excuse for producers to have a larger games room that isn’t attached to the rest of the zone itself. When contestants enter the Air Lock, they then exit via a door, and go round the back of the set to the other games room where ones including Springy Planets are played.
26. This room is actually around six times bigger than any of the other games rooms on set.
27. There are 40 LED panels used in the Futuristic Zone.
28. Bosses thought about inventing a new zone for revival, but decided to go with a re-imagining of the originals for fear of upsetting the show’s loyal fans.
29. However, they did have to revamp the Futuristic zone, as the old version was no longer very futuristic for the modern day.
30. There are 5,600 gallons of water used across the whole maze.
31. While the Crystal Dome is at the centre of the maze on the on-screen map, it is actually housed in a separate studio building at the Bottle Yard. When we got to try it out (sadly Richard wasn’t there to shout “Start the fans!”), the thing that struck us was just how windy it is in there. Those fans have got some serious power.
32. The decision to house it away from the rest of the set is because dust from the other zones used to get sucked into the fans, creating a sandstorm in the old dome, making it appear cloudy on screen.
33. Runners will clear the set of the foils using leaf blowers.
34. This series sees the introduction of 30 brand new games.
35. Viewers will see each game an average of about four times each series.
36. Some games that prove popular get tweaked to keep them fresh - for example, this series, the Spinning Planets have become the Springy Planets.
37. There is a team of special effects specialists who work on each of the games. They sort everything from the lighting cues, to releasing the crystals and firing up smoke.
38. There is a special team who come up with, develop and execute all of the games.
39. There are around 150 new ideas for games each series that are then filtered down to around 70.
40. A design company then design them and cost them out and they are pitched to Channel 4 bosses and the executive producers of the show.
41. They will approve a shortlist, and the games team will then lock themselves in a room to pick the final 30, ensuring there is a mixture of big blockbusters and simple ones.
42. The team come up with the time limits by getting about half a dozen people who haven’t seen the games before to test them and find the average length it takes them to complete the challenge.
43. After the new games are built in the maze itself, bosses will often invite super fans of the show to the maze to be guinea pigs and make sure everything works.
44. Bosses have been very conscious about making the show more accessible to contestants with disabilities, and have installed a number of ramps on set.
45. When the series first came back, the games series producer, Anna Kidd, stitched together a tape of all the old games that was about six hours long and made the whole team watch it in order to get a feel of what they were trying to create.
46. She believes the new rope swing game in the Industrial Zone is the hardest one this time around. Contestants have to swing on the rope and touch 10 different lights across three walls in 10 seconds. After we tried it, we can confirm it is as impossible as it sounds, although we were astounded / horrified to learn one upcoming contestant managed it on their first go. We definitely need some tips from them!
‘The Crystal Maze’ returns to Channel 4 on Friday 8 June at 9pm.