Just when you think you've solved The Crystal Maze’s greatest mysteries, it drops a 6’7” bomb in the shape Stephen Merchant.
Yes, the Bristol-born writer-director of The Office and Extras has been confirmed to host the show’s return to this October – a one-off celebrity special that will air as part of Channel 4’s Stand Up To Cancer programming.
Former Doctor Who actor David Tennant had been rumoured to the take the role earlier this week – and let’s be fair, he’d have been a great fit in original host Richard O’Brien’s leopard print jacket and tight leathers – but as a self-confessed “huge fan” of the Nineties series, Merchant’s the man to lead the contestants through the Crystal Maze’s and put them to task in its Skill, Physical, Mental, and Mystery games.
"Richard O’Brien and Ed Tudor-Pole leave big shoes to fill, but I have size 14 feet, so I’ll do my best,” Merchant said.
It's an interesting development for Merchant, who's kept his career fairly low-key with HBO comedy Hello Ladies while former writing partner Ricky Gervais has become a Hollywood name and revived their greatest comedy creation, David Brent.
So what can we expect from Merchant as Crystal Maze host?
Will he ramp up the eccentricities like former hosts O’Brien and Tudor-Pole? Can we expect his dad – the bewildered cleaning bloke who stares into the camera in The Office – to take over from Richard O’Brien’s “Mumsy” to become “Dadsy”? And most importantly, if the show’s brought back full time, would Merchant host an entire series?
Fingers crossed for Karl Pilkington to be one of the contestants and get run ragged An Idiot Abroad-style in the Aztec Zone.