Welcome to the third edition of The PARENT Maze – the game show to end all game shows! Here are my ideas for the challenges you’ll find in the  Pre-school Zone. Not for the faint of heart…

David Tennant is our host (in pants, mainly due to the fact I only have a Kristof doll and David looked weird in his clothes) and the format doesn’t stray too far from the original Crystal Maze. Speaking of which, that version is due back later this month on Channel 4 in aid of Stand Up for Cancer – but I think they may have decided on Stephen Merchant for the host. And they’ve put him in clothes. Some people have no vision.

If you missed them, you can also check out the Toddler Zone and Baby Zone if you’ve missed them.

Let’s do this.

Preschool zone

1. Craft/Baking challenge

Yep, it’s time to have creative, interactive and theoretically educational sensory ‘fun’ with small children! David spins the Pinterest Wheel of Misfortune, and picks you out a craft project and a novelty cupcake design. You are also issued with four random children aged between 3 and 5, some of whom are related to each other – or to you – for the purposes of extra bickering.

You will be supplied with completely spurious aprons (crusted together from last time for added reality), plus a myriad of ingredients including toilet rolls, wooden spoons, sequins, scales, pom poms, googly eyes, eggs, flour, cotton wool and butter. It’s your job to sort the frosting from the playdoh, the edible glitter from the glitter glitter, and the PVA glue from the milk. 

Points will be deducted for: 

  • Meltdowns 
  • Failure to enforce turn taking
  • Egg shell/snot in the bowl
  • Glitter in orifices/glue in hair
  • Removed aprons
  • Flour explosions
  • Sloppy mixing/painting
  • Consumption of raw egg/craft materials
  • Colouring outside the lines
  • First degree burns
  • Double dipping
  • Misuse of scissors
  • Pipe cleaner sword fights/stabbings
  • Inedible cakes
  • Unidentifiable craft sheep/bears/parrots/snowmen 
  • Yelling
  • Consumption of alcohol to numb the pain
  • Doing it all yourself because the kids are shit at everything.

The final offerings will be judged by public vote, and/or new Channel 4 signing Paul Hollywood. 

  1. Lego fire-walk

Not only do you have to follow the instructions to complete a spurious lego model, the pieces you require can only be retrieved one at a time, across a 10 metre tray of raw lego. Contestants are, obviously, bare footed. A generous 5 minutes for this one.

  1. Imaginative play

Here you get to choose your own fate, by picking your own category of imaginative play. Options include Mums and Dads, Doctors and Nurses, Princesses, Octonauts, Paw Patrol, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Power Rangers, or Scooby Doo.

There is no time limit on this one, in fact part of the challenge is that you have to repeat the same scenario – under strict directions – for at least three hours. Deviation from the script you are provided will result in extra time being added ONTO the clock. Attempts at ad-lib, creative direction, diversion or escape, will result in five minutes of Level 2 tantruming, and having to go back to the start of the game. Again.

You must also do all of the voices, on national telly. With David Tennant listening. ***Shudder***

  1. Infestation challenge

Welcome to childcare! In the infestation challenge room contestants have to eradicate nits and worms, armed with Q tips, a nit comb, a massive bottle of conditioner, and an even bigger bottle of disinfectant. Getting locked in here will result in personal contamination, and you won’t ever be allowed to rejoin the game. Or the real world without a lengthy quarantine.

  1. Soft play challenge

This door basically opens into your average soft play centre on a rainy Saturday morning. You have 4 minutes, and a pair of white socks. You have to rescue a screaming child from an undisclosed location in the maze, which has obviously been designed for someone of around a fifth of your age and body mass. Both of you must reach the door WITH NO TEARS before the time runs out. Your socks will then be swabbed for bacteria, and anything over three trillion microbes will result in automatic lock-in.

(Top tip: Choose your route wisely and avoid the ball pool at all costs).

  1. Potty training game

One that probably sits between the toddler and pre-school zones. Look, I think by this point in proceedings you’ve got a pretty good idea of what’s going to happen in this room – as have the contestants.

Suffice to say it’s a game of mind-boggling frustration and teeth-gritting endurance, involving gusset scrubbing, mysterious wet patches, mad toilet dashes, pull-up negotiations, bum sniffing and potty-emptying splash-back. 

Most of the team are completely broken, and are no longer motivated even by a scantily clad David Tennant or a strangely charming Stephen Merchant. Several are rocking gently in a corner. Others are trying desperately to climb back up the umbilical ropes from the original Descent, which the producers have now coated with real birth mucus to prevent traction. Some of the men are seriously considering letting Channel 4 take them away for live vasectomies for the next series of Embarrassing Bodies – or the new-look, revamped Bake Off. Whatever. They don’t give a shit, anymore.

The Crystal Dome

For those that DO make it to the end, there’s the final challenge – the legendary Crystal Dome! I’m sure this is still somewhere in the props department, and for the purposes of the Parent Maze it will be obscured up to 2 feet high by sticky handprints and miscellaneous smears. Here the £9k university fees for each contestant’s offspring is blown around the dome in £50 notes, for an added frisson of reality and drama. When the buzzer goes, David Tennant tucks wads of notes into his own pants as he counts it out. (Hopefully).

It occurs to me looking back over the games that The Parent Maze appears to be somewhat messier and grosser than the original Crystal Maze. That pretty much reflects life post-children though, doesn’t it? Anyhoo – I think it’s very clear that once they read this Channel 4 will be calling for applications very shortly. I for one am IN.

Who’s with me?????