Have you heard?? The Crystal Maze is coming back this month for a one-off celebrity special in aid of Stand Up To Cancer!
I LOVED The Crystal Maze (although I was obviously very, very young when it was on telly. Honest). Rumour has it that this exciting nostalgia extravaganza is to be hosted by David Tennant. Or Stephen Merchant. Whatevs. Now whoever they choose, it’s entirely possible the production team may take the decision to have him wear slightly more than just his pants (as per my mock up above), but I think we can all agree that this would be an editorial mistake.
What’s more I’ve got plenty of other ideas, should someone at Channel 4 be reading. The first and foremost is that one special episode is nowhere near enough! And I’ve decided to back this up with an outline of a second special episode, The Parent Maze. (Where nothing is crystal because you’re no longer allowed nice/smashable things).
Opening sequence – The Descent into Parenthood
Contestants are put into a giant centrifuge-type fairground ride, and spun round in the pitch black to a soundtrack of newborn squawking, with occasional flashes of light and booming snippets of unsolicited advice:
‘You’re going to spoil that baby if you don’t put it down’
‘Just give him a rusk and he’ll sleep through’
‘That baby needs to learn to go to sleep by itself’
‘You’ll never succeed at breastfeeding if you introduce bottles you know’.
This will go some way towards emulating the disorientation that greets all new parents, at which point they’ll be strung onto bungee ropes (fashioned to look like umbilical cords) and launched from the ceiling into an endless abyss, over a vat of mustard-seed-poop-infused bath water.
Here’s the game bit. Also dangling from the ceiling and around the walls are opened-mouthed infants screaming for food. Contestants will be split into Team Breast and Team Bottle. Team Breast can choose to fire their own boobs or wear a lactation vest, while Team Bottle will get formula holsters (opportunity for sponsorship here). They must each aim for the baby’s mouths as they bounce up and down trying not to get diluted baby shit in their hair.
(The original Crystal Maze was not played in opposing teams, but for some reason parents and parenting styles are continually pitted against each other, and Channel 4 love a bit of friction. The losing team will get vilified on Mumsnet and won’t be able to show their faces at baby groups or on the school run for the shame).
The team that gets the most milk in mouths by the time the buzzer goes off is the winner, and David/Stephen will mark their scores in a little red book of doom, just like the ones used to track the weight of real-life babies. His glamorous Health Visitor assistant will stand by and occasionally tut. (Perhaps she can be the new ‘Mumsey’, who, if memory serves, was also the least maternal person in the world ever, and also spoke largely in confusing riddles).
Onto the zones!
The Baby Zone
1. Milk challenge
Thought this was over after the first game? Not on your nelly, Kelly! It’s never over. In fact someone from the team will have to come back every 40-45 minutes and do either this game or the original Descent for the entire duration of the the Baby Zone. (After a while a box set of Game of Thrones will be made available to play on a telly in the corner of each room to help alleviate the crushing monotony).
Here’s how it works. The chosen contestant walks into the room to find a massive vat of milk at one end, and a giant baby stomach at the other. In between are a series of pipes going through various chambers. You need to extract enough milk by diagnosing and solving the problem in each chamber to release the door lock. At your disposal are a number of tools – including nipple shields, lanolin, steralising equipment, cabbage leaves, hot and cold compresses and GIN. Four minutes are on the clock.
- Chamber 1: A giant pair of sore nipples. You have to soothe them enough to allow enough milk through to unlock the next chamber.
- Chamber 2: Swollen mastitis tits.
- Chamber 3: Here there’s just a crappy hand pump you have to operate single handed – causing debilitating thumb cramp.
- Chamber 4: Correct the latch on three live nursing mothers! (Apply discretionary gin).
- Chamber 5: Disassemble, wash, and stack 8 different types of bottles into a single steraliser, deploying your dexterity, speed and tessellation skills.
- Camber 6: Make up a day’s worth of bottles using both formula and frozen breast milk. Spillage will result in automatic lock-in!
Team mates are allowed to help by offering advice and encouragement from outside the room, but only through a crackly baby monitor.
It’s a physical one, so the team will have to pick their fastest player, with the strongest stomach and weakest sense of smell. Armed with a random selection of cloths and disposables, they’ve got 3 minutes on the clock to clean, cream and contain 30 wiggling bottoms. Time is deducted for hands and feet in the poo, nappy rash, and sloppy execution with the risk of containment breach.
The participant will be dressed in a white lycra bodysuit, and will lose time for each fresh splatter on their person. They’ll need to duck, dive and danger-roll their way through the room, rather like Catherine Zeta Jones the film Entrapment, but with projectile bodily waste instead of lasers.
Pelvic floor game
One for the ladies! A test of the postnatal pelvic floor strength. The contestant sits on a special sensor underneath a bucket of urine. They must lift their pelvic floor up and away from the sensor pad, and hold it. Urine trickles slowly down into the door mechanism, and the key floats up a tube where it can be reached to unlock the room. If you let go of your pelvic floor, the remaining contents of the original bucket empty onto your head.
Raising your eyebrows results in automatic lock-in.
8 different ‘travel systems’. 4 minutes on the clock. You have to assemble each system into buggy functionality, and then collapse it back to fit into a car. Time deducted for each time you say ‘Fuck’. Instructions are provided, but they are in Chinese and have been scribbled on in wax crayon by a four-year-old Matisse.
This is basically just a massive food fight, involving mostly carrot batons and pureed squash. Think of it like a psychedelic, perma-staining orange version of the famous ‘La Tomatina’ festival. The objective of the game is to insert some food into some babies, who are lined up along a corridor and either strenuously resisting or rather too enthusiastically participating. (The results are largely the same). Basically if you get through to the other end alive and sane you’ve won a crystal.
Sling obstacle course
Team mates must agree whether to go buckles or wrap, front or back carry, and pick their most experienced babywearing member. Once the baby (model, obvs) is in, the contestant must complete a series of obstacles designed to test balance and core strength. There’s probably a balance beam, some army-type tyres, and maybe those giant balls off of Wipeout. All of these must be negotiated while gently jigging the slingee, in a rhythm that must never fall below 70 bounces a minute. Jolting of any sort will set off the hyper-sensitive sensors.
At the end of the course contestants must successfully transfer their sleeping baby from the sling to a cot. If the baby ‘wakes’ at this point it will result in automatic lock-in, during which the contestant must endure the incessant screaming of an under-napped infant.
Look out for the next exciting instalment, as the team moves on to the dreaded Toddler Zone!