The Crystal Maze is a British game show, produced by Chatsworth Television and shown on Channel 4 in the United Kingdom between 15 February 1990 and 10 August 1995. There was one series per year, with the first four series presented by Richard O'Brien and the final two by Ed Tudor-Pole, who made his debut in the 1993 Christmas special. Each show was one hour long, including adverts.
The show was originally intended to be a British remake of the French programme Fort Boyard, devised by Jacques Antoine. However, the unavailability of the French show's set (a real fort in the middle of the sea), led British producer Malcolm Heyworth to reinvent the show using themed zones as a means to keep the show visually fresh. Channel 5 later bought the rights to Fort Boyard and made their own version, using the original set, running from 1998 to 2001.
The series is set in "The Crystal Maze", which is set within four different "zones" set in various periods of time and space. A team of six contestants take part in a selection of challenges in order to win "time crystals". Each crystal gives the team five seconds of time inside "The Crystal Dome", the heart of the maze where the contestants take part in their final challenge.
The Crystal Maze was one of the most daring and popular programmes produced by Channel 4. The maze cost £250,000 to build and was the size of two football pitches. The show was at the time the most watched on Channel 4, attracting up to 7 million viewers at its height and has been described as "a highly-ambitious, high-risk show that paid off handsomely."