As I was leaving the office moments ago my colleague Mike announced an astonishing claim to fame – he used to live in the flat above the legendary Richard O’Brien.
For those unfamiliar with this cult icon, he wrote the camp musical, The Rocky Horror Show, and performed The Time Warp in the original film. But for my generation he will always be best remembered as the creator and eccentric host of that television masterpiece, The Crystal Maze.
This show was a unique weekly experience, full of mystery and adventure. In ranked alongside other early 90s gems such as Gamesmaster and Knightmare – and in my opinion outdid them both.
But can you name the zones? It’s a great pub-quiz question, and if I am being honest I’m not 100% sure of them. There was definitely an Aztec Zone, I’m pretty sure there was an Industrial Zone, maybe Ocean, Futuristic and Medieval?
It was quite a complex TV event, each week a team (of six?) would navigate their way through each themed zone, taking on an array of physical and mental challenges as they fought their way to The Crystal Dome. With each challenge the team had a chance to win a crystal, allowing them more time in the final dome – where they needed to collect as many Gold paper tickets as they could. These then translated into a cash prize. But beware, if you failed a challenge, and didn’t smash on the door quickly enough to get out you could be locked in and left behind.
But every week the team would always trade in crystals to buy back their loser team-mates…although I never really understood why. Each team was always littered with useless members who inevitably failed challenges and were abjectly useless in the Crystal Dome. I’m confident I could have been an effective team asset, but unfortunately I’ll never find out…
The Crystal Maze died out when Richard left and was replaced by the distinctly average Ed Tudor-Pole – even his name annoyed me.
But Richard must be minted, the royalties alone from the long-running Rocky Horror must keep the income rolling in, so what is he doing living in a small South London flat? When challenged Mike was quick to point out that Richard didn’t just own one flat below him, he had bought a few apartments and knocked them through to create something unique…
Is it possible that The Crystal Maze still exists, burrowing through an array of rooms in Kennington – filled with new exciting 21st century zones – hidden from the outside world? I think I should purchase a fetching lime green boiler suit and head over to Mike’s old address, just in case.