Beat the Crusher



Melinda Messenger


Freddie Starr


Target Entertainment and Tiger Aspect Productions for Sky One, 21 September to 23 November 1998 (10 episodes in 1 series)


A format created purely for shock value. Melinda turns on the smiles while Starr makes random threats at members of the audience. Plenty of destruction of other things along the way, but Don't Forget Your Toothbrush and the like have done similar pranks before.

The details? You really want details? Well, it goes like this. After being run out of town last week, Messenger and Starr have pitched up in a shopping centre. They've attracted a crowd of about seventy gawping locals, curious to see what minor celebrities look like in the flesh.

The Crusher is well oiled and ready to cause carnage. All we need now is Jeremy Clarkson to control it and we'll be going "POWER!!!"

Right at the start, Starr introduces the real star of the show, a Lefort Mobile Bailer. He demonstrates its power by dropping something of minor value (a handful of garden gnomes) into the crusher and watching dust emerge. Well, actually, this all happens outside in the car park; the Crusher is too big to fit indoors and we only see it via video link.

Most of the show is taken up by a bonnie baby competiton, in which very young children are encouraged to splat their parents with custard pies or paint clown makeup onto their parents' faces.

The show's set.

Other recurring features included "The Coolest Man In Wherever We Are This Week", in which Starr did scary things to men wearing heartrate monitors, and whoever kept the calmest won a geegaw. This bit was like The Chair but was at least over in five minutes. There was also "Clash of the Clans", two family teams performed their talents on stage until a judging panel was bored of them.

The actual car-crushing was a simple quiz. Two couples had bet their current car, and both were loaded up on forklifts to be dropped into the crusher. A simple best-of-seven quiz determined which car would be crushed, and which owners would be offered a brand new motor.

Freddie Starr nicks some guy's glasses to see if he actually has an audience in front of him.

After the credits, the audience were annoyed that they'd wasted an hour of their life watching a talented baby contest and other sideshows. They'd been misled into thinking the whole show revolved around the titular crusher, when it was used about twice. And they'd been whipped into a frothing frenzy by the spiteful entertainment. Brandishing pitchforks and burning torches, they rounded on Messenger and Starr, and ran them out of town. And so the cycle continued.

The format was scrapped when couples started buying second-hand cars before coming onto the show...


"Crush-er! Crush-er! Crush-er!"


Before the show had even begun airing, a couple bet their current car in the hope of getting a new one. Apparently, the first couple to appear on the show still thought they were going to get some sort of consolation prize at the end when their Ford Cortina had been turned into a large metal box, but oh no... To make matters worse, it turned out that they needed a car because the lady in the couple had some form of physical ailment.

Melinda Messenger and contestants, in front of the remnants of what was a Ford Fiesta minutes ago.

Beat the Crusher had a voiceover, which we think was provided by Simon Greenall. We've not been able to find proof that this is correct.

Web links

Wikipedia entry

See also

Weaver's Week review


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