1 9 8 0 – 1 9 8 6 (UK)
Three people are stranded on a planet on the far side of the galaxy. In order to return to earth, they must first locate a crystal to power their spacecraft.
But (and this is where the whole thing begins to get tricky) to find the crystal they must navigate their way through a series of practical and mental problems, devised by a fiendish alien intelligence.
This strange game show featured two – usually B grade – celebrities each week (more often than not weather forecasters or kids TV presenters) accompanied by a member of the public as they were guided through a series of puzzles requiring logical/mathematical thinking with some bizarre twists and turns.
Our heroes had to overcome a kerfuffled butler, a backwards-talking Australian (“Doogy rev!”), a logic-stepping-stone floorplan, the retrieval of plastic currency from Argonic acid paddling pools and some business with a BBC Acorn, before arriving at the ‘Vortex’.
The premise had the contestants arrive on the planet Arg (in reality, BBC Bristol for series one and three, and Birmingham’s Pebble Mill Studios for two and four) where the “residents” – whose names were all anagrams of “dragon” – put them through their paces before they could return to Earth.
The contestants had no prior knowledge of the tasks they would have to perform and genuinely had to solve them on camera. Dorgan (Sarah Lamb) was helpful to the contestants, but many of the characters were not.
The currency on the planet was the Drogna (also the name of the main coloured tile game) and the accepted greeting was “Gronda Gronda”. Future TV newsreader Moira Stuart played a boiler-suited shape-changing dragon and Lesley Judd was a double agent called The Mole.
Probably the most memorable game was the dreaded “Vortex” which required contestants to criss-cross their way across a rickety latticework gantry strung across a bit of open galaxy without falling foul of the invisible (to them but not the viewer) aforementioned vortex.
His Highness the Uncle
Ian Messiter (1)
Kenny Baker (2)