Jungle Run



Dominic Wood (1999-2000)

Chris Jarvis (2001-2)

Michael Underwood (2003-6)


Yorkshire Television for ITV, 10 September 1999 to 29 November 2006 (99 episodes in 8 series)


Say what you like about Jacques Antoine's biggest creation, but with Fort Boyard he didn't so much invent a show as invent a whole flipping genre and here's yet another tasks 'n' time limit challenge show, and this time it's set in a jungle. Now that IS a shock, isn't it?

Now for anyone who hasn't experienced a task 'n' time limit challenge show before, they're great - there's just too many of them nowadays especially from children's television but none of which are as good as the originals. They work like this: Members of team A attempt to get as many B which will help them (condition B) in the final game (C) by playing and winning various games (D-X) set with various time limits (Y and Z). Sometimes, if a particular member of team A is particularly inept they are punished by not being allowed to help in C but A can buy back said inept member by relinquishing some of B. If people do well in C, probably by collecting lots of B, then they'll win a big prize. Follow, class? Good. Here's an example and we'll be asking questions later:

The show had three hosts over its (jungle) run, all poached from CBBC, who would guide a team of children across a purpose-built set in an aircraft hangar in Nottingham.

The jungle guide would guide the team through a series of challenges where the aim was to collect monkey statues (or bananas in earlier series) which would give them time in the final challenge at the end of the show. Regular silver statues awarded 10 seconds each but one challenge offered a ruby statue which was worth 20 seconds. The other jungle inhabitants were a pair of monkeys called Sid and Elvis, who liked to cause nuisance during challenges by throwing coconuts or trying to sabotage the games.

And now, my William Shatner impression.

There were a nice variety of games, some of which were quite clever, some of which… not so much.

The Abandoned Camp - The team would have to open boxes which had spilled out of a crashed helicopter (complete with skeleton pilot).

Angel Falls - The team would have to retrieve monkey statues, either by swimming for sunken treasure chests, by using a rope swing to grab baskets dangling over the pool, or by diverting water from the waterfall using bamboo pipes into narrow tubes containing statues.

To me, To you, To me, To you.
Still no Nemo down here.

The Pyramid - One team member would have to navigate an underground tunnel maze and retrieve statues. Their path would sometimes be blocked by a stone door with a symbol on it. They would call out the symbol via walkie talkie and the other team members outside would help by standing on the corresponding symbol on a series of stone tiles. Failure to exit in time would result in a lock-in.

Winifred calling, I see King Cobra

The Tomb - one player would have to get across said tomb via narrow ledges without falling into the pit below. The other teammates would aid them by pushing bamboo bridges through holes in the wall the help them get across.

Let's go through his legs team. What?

The Dark Swamp - The team has to retrieve baskets containing statues while crossing a wobbly rope bridge over a swamp.

Temple of The Jungle King - a series of chambers with puzzles inside. Each puzzle completed would open the door to the next chamber, each containing a much bigger monkey statue. Going up in value with each completed puzzle. Time inside depended on the number of statues accrued.

Wow! A giant picture puzzle. Never seen one like that before.
Rolling, rolling, rolling

The aim was to reach the final chamber and retrieve the golden monkey.

And that's my close-up for the day.

Prizes often included games consoles, mini disc players, watches, video cameras, and the Jungle Run monkey teddy bear.

Although the format is (by the production team's admission) a clone of The Crystal Maze, even to the point of hiring a former contestant in Michael Underwood, they took the unwise step of copying it just a bit too far because a major credibility hit is taken by the format in terms of "lock-ins". If the kids are too slow on certain games, one of them gets locked in at that location (in the jungle? eh?). And Dominic Wood's magic tricks, used as quick throwaway links between the games early on in the show's life, somewhat jarred in this setting too.

So, all in all not perfect but it did have good production values, especially given that it's a children's show. The show had a very Indiana Jones feel to it. The spooky tension building music during games was a nice touch. The show was at times on the edge of your seat tense as a team grabbed the golden monkey and had to exit the temple with seconds to spare and at times it was incredibly frustrating when a team failed to complete a four-piece giant jigsaw.

Key moments

One of the kids accidentally breaks the stone monkey on concrete rocks when grabbing all the monkey statues.

Michael yanking out a kid from the Jungle King's belly and both of them falling on the floor just as it was about to close.


Concept by Lesley Oakden

Theme music

Martin Cook


Perhaps surprisingly and perhaps not, Channel 5 commissioned an adult version of the show, Naked Jungle, for naturists with its infamous nude Keith Chegwin. There's something slightly disturbing about that, however it was this version which inspired the childrens show as the same set was used in the early series. This was then later recreated from scratch when the other presenters came along.

Special episodes were often made, including Olympians, young stars of Coronation Street, CITV presenters, and the cast of My Parents Are Aliens.

Before he found fame in Hollyoaks and Coronation Street, as well as appearing on Just the Two of Us and Dancing on Ice. Chris Fountain played the part of a jungle explorer in the opening titles from Series 3 until the shows end.


Unfortunately there are no plans to make any more series of Jungle Run, so it is not possible to apply to be on the show. Sorry!

Web links

Wikipedia entry


Who wants to bet that Ant & Dec are in these costumes
Lara Croft, eat your heart out


To correct something on this page or post an addition, please complete this form and press "Send":
If you are asking us a question, please read our contact us page and FAQ first.

Name: E-mail:   
A Labyrinth Games site.
Design by Thomas.
Printable version
Editors: Log in