The Dare Devil
Dan Antopolski (as The Dare Devil)
CBBC, 11 February 2013 to 20 February 2015 (30 episodes in 3 series)
A brave young person, and three members of their family, face their fears and try to win a prize to share together.
The show begins with an introduction, where The Dare Devil meets his victims. He then gives the young captain a cryptic clue for the challenge ahead, from which the captain selects a family member to take on the dare.
The dares themselves are a mixture of the revolting (put on these t-shirts and guess what they've been soaked in), the embarrassing (sing a song in central Manchester's shopping centre), and the stunt (drop an egg into a nest floating on the Salford Ship Canal, while flying down a zip wire, while dressed as a bird).
All the dares have a clear way to win or lose, explained during The Dare Devil's introduction. Fail, and the team loses a life from their initial pool of four. Succeed, and the team keeps their lives intact.
The lives come into play during the final game, when the captain must reach into one of five containers holding various unsavoury creatures or substances, and locate a key in that box. The key is to unlock the Golden Door, behind which lies the prize. The Dare Devil gives clues to guide the captain to the right key, and the captain's allowed to choose one key for each life remaining.
A few changes were made for the second series. There were now two young people and three adults on each team, with team names that The Dare Devil always got wrong. Winning a dare gave a Golden Dubloon, worth an extra fifteen seconds in the final game. That final was still challenges for the youngsters, now finding clues to a password for the Golden Door.
Stunts and dares and putting people in unfamiliar situations is a standard trope for CBBC - Best of Friends did exactly that. Family programmes is also something CBBC does a lot of - Copycats is the example springing to mind, with a captain in the CBBC audience leading relatives of greater years. The Dare Devil owes a lot to these shows.
There's also a lineage to Fort Boyard, particularly the version seen on CITV. Reaching into a box of unknown and concealed contents and rooting around for a key? "Jarres" from the French original. "The Searching Head" regularly appeared in the second series, with maggots and earthworms replaced by cold custard and baked beans. It's relocated to the Salford area, but the broad thrust of a team stretching themselves for their own benefit is present. Being a supernatural character, The Dare Devil is able to make doors appear and vanish at will, and walk through them to appear elsewhere; it would be a stretch to say this show was based on ITV's pilot The Door.
Star of the show is Dan Antopolski as The Dare Devil. He has villainous good looks, is made up to a strong character, and plays the role with great gusto - camping it up when he can, being serious and consoling when the part demands it, and switching between those two with tremendous ease. Without such a strong lead character, our reviewers would probably have switched off after one episode. It's a performance and a character as strong as Richard O'Brien in The Crystal Maze.
"...but the devil is in the detail."
Devised by CBBC Productions Development Team
Guy Rowland is credited for "Title music".