The Crystal Maze celebrity 2017 episode 3 review

Rylan Clark-Neal and pals take on The Crystal Maze for Stand Up To Cancer this week. Here’s how they got on…

Du du du duuuuurr DU-DUH.

Du du du duuuuurr DU-DUH.


The Crystal Maze music alone makes me happy.

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It isn’t just nostalgia. Aside from that time Dean Goodall’s mum ironed his shell suit then made him wear it to the year seven summer disco, the early nineties weren’t even that much fun. They were listless days that passed in a scrunchie-fuelled haze. Pogs came and pogs went. We drowned our ennui by drinking melted blue ice poles and doing the Time Warp. Again.

No, the joy of The Crystal Maze is intrinsic. From the opening du du du duuuuurrr to the final totting up of the gold vs silver tokens, it’s a frivolous delight. A blanket fort, or Fondant Fancy, in TV form.

This week’s episode was made ten per cent better by an appearance from Jessica Hynes as The Knight, one of two new characters invented for the revived series. (The second of which, a head in a jar played by Adam Buxton, we’re yet to meet.)

A put-upon flunkey of the Medieval Zone’s despotic king, the Knight enjoys passe-partout access throughout the maze, hence her also popping up in the Aztec Zone. She’s there to set riddles and make Richard Ayoade uncomfortable, both of which tasks she performed admirably this week. “I think she likes you,” the team teased our Maze Master, who duly shrunk into this week’s corduroy (a sober grey) saying, “It’s not. She doesn’t. No. Don’t read into the subtext, there’s nothing…no,” with all the suaveness of a LEGO brick. More from the Knight please. She turns Ayoade into instant Maurice Moss.

When he wasn’t staring determinedly at the ground and waiting for the Knight to clear off, Ayoade was cracking everyone up. With deadpan derision and droll asides to camera (on Rylan, screaming and shuffling along at a forty-five degree angle to a spinning log: “It’s balletic. It’s some of the most moving imagery I’ve ever seen”), he was part-jester, part-health and safety supervisor. He celebrated the team’s triumphs and mocked their defeats, all the while keeping a hygienic distance and at no point calling anyone ‘babe’.

‘Babe’, it’s become apparent over the past three weeks, is celebrity for ‘you utter prong’. The charity celeb teams call each other ‘babe’ roughly every third word, which is how you can tell they’re feeling stressed.

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This lot seemed particularly so. Even Rylan, whose smile can usually light up a room at fifty paces (one hundred, given a system of mirrors), seemed unduly reserved. He managed a couple of double entendres about blowing balls and slippery logs at the midway point, but you felt his heart wasn’t in it. Perhaps the pressure of winning or losing twenty grand for cancer research on the basis of the speed at which he could crawl through a catflap was too great. Even his hair looked anxious.

You can understand Adil Ray feeling stressed. He not only failed to win any crystals, but cost the team the princely sum of two by getting locked in twice, thereby earning himself the worst record of any celebrity mazer. It pains me to remind him that even Louie Spence managed to win a crystal. Louie. Spence.

Ayoade was right though, Ray redeemed himself talking Jermaine Jenas through those alphabet sums. The rest of the bunch acquitted themselves fairly well too. The end result was another ten grand won for Stand Up To Cancer, so well done the lads.

The new games were particular fun this week. Spinning walls and multi-level Jungle Jim courses and the sort of piano Elton John would play if he were a robot… it was a hoot. Even the Aztec speed-plumbing task was entertaining the second time around thanks to everyone having to explain to Joel the process of opening a box. “Push it up and backwards, towards the front, like a lid,” they told him. It was a lid.

Both Jermaine and Joel left it tantalisingly late to win their games, while Tamara sailed through her mystery treasure hunt with a minute to spare, but then fell apart entirely on the spinning discs. “Take it heavy” was Captain Rylan’s inscrutable advice. It wasn’t Tamara’s fault her arms were too short to press those buzzers. Richard should have offered you the use of his golden hand, babe.

Read Louisa’s review of the previous episode here.

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