Run the Risk
Peter Simon and John Eccleston (1994)
Peter Simon and Bobby Davro (1995-6)
Voiceover: Mitch Johnson (1996)
BBC1, 26 September 1992 to 28 December 1996 (69 episodes in 5 series, as part of Going Live! (1992-3) and Live and Kicking (1993-6))
Otherwise known as Double Dare 2: This Time It's Personal, Run the Risk combined those fantastic elements of Saturday Morning BBC1 kids telly - gunge and more gunge for a new quiz/gunge-type sensation. But hold on! Perhaps this was good!
The set was pseudo-industrial with a runway, a gantry and a giant turntable. Part of the turntable could retract to reveal the scary moat of gunge.
Three teams of two kids were challenged to answer questions, and buzzed in by stamping on pressure pads on the pyramid things they were sitting on (that is SO early 90s). Each question was worth progressively more points but the twist was that you could only answer one question in each round. The team that correctly answered the highest point question could decide on who would play the next risk. What risk I hear you cry (allegorically)? Well they'd get to do a physical challenge for tonnes of points. OR! They could get another team to Run the Risk. If they failed at their own task then the points would be split between the other two teams. If they challenge another team and they win, they get the points. If they lose then the challenging team get all the points to themselves. Clear, no?
Peter Simon would often fall over at this point, having not gained a diploma in basic theories of standing up since Double Dare finished. And it was as hilarious as ever.
They'd do this three times with different subjects and the last round didn't have a risk, instead it was general knowledge in the same style or in later series the mega-quickfire round (consisting of about two questions, usually). And what do points make? Why, they make positions on the Run The Risk runway! Until series three when it all changed. And then it sort of changed back series four, but we'll explain why in a moment.
The final round of Run the Risk was an It's a Knockout-style obstacle curse, sorry, course, which would have a different theme to it every week but was generally either horror (Peter Simon would dress up as Frankenstein. And then fall over. Into the moat of gunge.), Prehistoric (Peter Simon would dress up as as a caveman. And then fall over. Into the moat of gunge.) or ice themed (Peter Simon would dress up as a penguin. And then fall over. Into the moat of gunge). One of the players in each team would dress up Knockout-style, the other person would be useful later.
Now, the points earned in the rounds before transform into places on the runway. The more points you have, the less you have to run to get to the first obstacle, which is nice.
First job was normally run to the treasure chests at the end of the runway, use what was in the chests to get something else from the middle of the bouncy maze, get out of the bouncy maze (not so much a maze as a cul-de-sac really) and give it to team-mate. Team mate uses object for random challenge mounted on giant turntable, finish by obviously climbing giant inflatable slide which happens to end in the giant moat of gunge. Cue lots of hilarious trying to get up slide but failing slapstick humour. Peter Simon would inevitably fall over several times now and break several bones. Wait five minutes because the inbuilt advantage of starting two feet ahead of other teams gets cancelled out because no-one can climb the giant slide. Celebrate as someone manages to get halfway. Collapse when they lose grip on rope and start again. Suffer a coronary when they finally get there, and what lies up there? A flag. Once grabbed, they have to slide down into the gunge to finish. They win. Hurrah!
And then series three came and it was different. It included (duh-duh-duh-duh) The Dark Zone (cue deep throated bloke saying 'The Dark Zone' in a very low voice. Or at least cue it if they bothered to do that, which they didn't). The team with the lowest amount of points in the main game were out. The other two teams were locked up in cages. "This is JUST like Fort Boyard!" Don't be ridiculous. Inside the cages was a winding machine. The winding machine was connected to a long piece of wire... the long piece of wire was connected to (obviously) a toy dumper truck and the toy dumper truck had a key on top of it.
So on 'Go', both teams had to wind as fast as possible to pull the truck towards them, grab the key, let themselves out and sprint to the pressure pads at the end of the Runway. As soon as the first team gets on the pressure pads, some sparks fly and a ninety second clock starts because they can enter... The Dark Zone (not to be confused with Toilet Duck or any other bathroom cleaning fluid).
Sadly two things were clear about this. First, they desperately wanted to 'be' Fun House. Everyone wants to go in the Fun House, even we do and we're grown up. Sadly, although this seemed to have lots of obstacles and stuff we're not sure that it was actually fun. Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, nobody actually had any idea as to what was actually going on. We gather that they were trying to pull four levers and there were several obstacles between each one but we were never told the layout which is almost a shame because it seemed excellently complicated. Peter Simon got into excited commentary mode and didn't fall over once. This was such a tragedy they returned to the race format of the earlier series the next year, the upside being that points converted in seconds head start over opponents (they even gave the starting system an acronym but we don't remember what it was), something like a second for every ten points or something, but it still ended with that bastard inflatable slide climb.
Hosts then. Peter Simon was sidekick to the three main hosts, Shane Richie was incredibly untwattish and actually surprisingly amusing with many anecdotes about Alan TITCHmarsh, a hilarious prop gag about a telephone-less cord and regular 'thing', What's In The Bag, Shane? which would have it's own theme song.
John Eccleston is one of the blokes behind the wolves off of Wolf It! (which were also regulars on What's Up, Doc) and more recently the Leprechauns off of Live and Kicking and was one of the more talented hosts of The Disney Club but him himself wasn't a big enough draw and only lasted one series.
Bobby Davro has done Winner Takes All since hosting Run The Risk. And that's about it, other than a short appearance in Big Brother but it could be said that RTR was a bit of a comedown since he was big in the Eighties. Until Public Enemy Number One came along which didn't make a big impression with the public (I thangyou).
Hardly an advancement of Saturday Morning television, then, but nevertheless one of the slickest game segments - possibly only outclassed by the original version of Mousetrap.
First part of an episode from 1992
The format was remade in Sweden as "Rally Planeten".
Run the risk was done as a live stage show version at Butlins resorts for a few years in the early 2000's, with Peter Simon hosting of course!