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Interceptor
Interceptortv.jpg
Title sequence
Format Game show
Created by Jacques Antoine
Starring Annabel Croft
(Host)
Sean O'Kane
(The Interceptor)
Country of origin  United Kingdom
No. of series 1 (inc. Christmas Special)
No. of episodes 7
Production
Running time 60mins (inc. adverts)
Production company(s) Thames Television
Distributor Chatsworth Television
Broadcast
Original channel ITV
Picture format 4:3
Original run 19 July 1989 –
1 January 1990
Status Cancelled
Chronology
Preceded by Treasure Hunt
(1982–89)
Followed by The Crystal Maze
(1990–95)

Interceptor was a British game show created by Jacques Antoine and produced by Chatsworth Television for Thames Television on 19 July 1989, and shown on the ITV network during that summer, with the last episode airing on 1 January 1990. It succeeded Treasure Hunt in production, and preceded The Crystal Maze.

The show was hosted by tennis player and former Treasure Hunt skyrunner Annabel Croft. The eponymous Interceptor was played by actor Sean O'Kane.

It was received well critically and by viewers, yet only eight episodes were made. Nonetheless, the show has something of a cult following, which influenced sporadic reruns on UK satellite channel Challenge TV from 2001. A public vote by The UK Game Show Page in 2002 saw the series voted the UK's 13th best game show.

Contents

Format

Each episode of the series was based, like Treasure Hunt, in a region of the UK, and began from a local tourist attraction. The host would introduce the episode's two contestants, one woman (the yellow contestant) and one man (the blue contestant). Each contestant would be given a locked backpack - one would contain £1,000 in cash, the other merely weighted. Both backpacks had five large infra-red receptors on the back. The contestants would be blindfolded and deposited by helicopter in locations within the area. The challenge was for both contestants, under guidance from the host, to obtain the key to their opposite number's backpack - usually some distance away from their start point - and meet up, all within a 40-minute time limit.

A simple enough task, except for some obstructions placed in their way. Principal among these was the titular Interceptor, a tall man dressed in black, armed with an infra-red projector mounted on his left forearm (the technology for which was procured from the British Army), and possessed of an intimidating fish-eagle screech. It was his job to pursue the contestants and - to the accompaniment of post-production sound effects - 'zap' the receptors on their backpacks, causing the locks to jam. Thus, if the contestant carrying the money is 'zapped', neither contestant wins.

Distance was also a major enemy to the contestant, causing them to beg or borrow any mode of transport available to them. During the course of the series, more or less everything from bicycles to Sea King helicopters were used. The Interceptor, too, was able to hijack available transportation, but had his own fleet available to him. The most-used of these was his black-and-yellow Agusta A109 helicopter registered G-MEAN, piloted by his long-suffering pilot and servant 'Mikey' (played by helicopter pilot Michael Malric-Smith). Also at his disposal was a Maserati Biturbo Spider sports car registration INT 1, and a Kawasaki ZX10 motorbike registration INT 2. There was also a hovercraft apparently available to him, though this was never used.

The contestant's other major enemy was the time limit. Once they had located their key, they often had to perform a task in order to obtain it. Examples included participating in a limited jousting exercise, or removing the key from a horse's braided mane.

Airing

The eight existing episodes were recorded over the summer of 1989 and shown soon afterwards. The only notable exception was the eighth and final episode, which was intended for a Christmas airing but was instead shown in the new year. This episode included seasonal greetings from both Annabel and the Interceptor.

Cancellation

The series appeared to dignify itself admirably to public and critical view, garnering good ratings for its Wednesday prime-time slot due to its suspense-filled format. However, Interceptor was shown at the time when ITV was undergoing major changes, and it became a casualty of them. Despite public outcry - even public polls - Interceptor was never recommissioned for a subsequent series. While Thames TV wanted to propose Interceptor for another ITV network commission in 1990, Thames was already responsible for a very large section of ITV prime-time television shows and other companies wanted a greater proportion. In addition, a new round of franchise bidding was impending, and Thames was concerned to improve its profitability; Interceptor was a relatively expensive show and was made by an independent contractor. (In the event Thames lost its franchise to Carlton Television which had put in a larger bid.

Repeats

Despite its premature termination, Interceptor retains a cult following. Pressure exerted by these fans led to UK satellite channel Challenge TV taking the series up for rerun alongside other older game shows (among which were stablemates Treasure Hunt and the Crystal Maze). Here, the series gained a whole new generation of fans, and at one point even spawned discussion on Challenge's website as to production of a new series, fuelled by the channel's resurrection of the UK version of Fort Boyard.

Memorable moments

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Episode 1: Kent

Contestant Mark (to get his key) has to get it from a hive of bees. The Interceptor chases contestant Candy (who is travelling in a rolls-royce) on horseback.

Episode 2: Norfolk

While contestant Roger tries to get his key in the middle of a maze in a stately home, The Interceptor plans an ambush. Contestant Claire goes on a pleasure cruise to get near her key while at the end of the episode, The Interceptor has a brush with the law. The contestants win the money.

Episode 3: Wye Valley

Contestant Mark enlists the help of the army to find his key while at the end of the episode, The Interceptor screeches over a bridge in his Maserati.

Episode 4: Cumbria

Contestant Max makes his way on the Ravenglass and Eskdale Railway to his key challenge and the Interceptor climbs along the train in pursuit of Max. Contestant Suzanne gets soaked in Wast Water while trying to get her key. At the end of the episode, The Interceptor blocks the entrance to the Eskdale Outward Bound Centre where contestant Suzanne is coming but her partner Max grabs her just in time before the Interceptor.

Episode 5: Derbyshire

Contestant Martin has a brief chase with The Interceptor but gets away in the nick of time. Contestant Hillary is unaware that she was taken on a ride in a tractor by The Interceptor. The farmers at the farm where she gets the tractor even go as far as helping him, all because of a money bribe of ten pounds, and a further ten pounds if his ambush is a success. When he locks Hillary's pack he shrieks many times and yells in joy, only for Hillary to jump on a nearby van, jokingly threatening to hit The Interceptor with a spade if he don't leave her alone. Nevertheless, the ambush effort was all in vain, as even if the trick did not work the contestants still would have failed, as they did not meet each other within the 40-minute time limit.

Episode 6: Borders

The Interceptor won't leave contestant Mike alone but while attempting an ambush, he is spotted by Mike and gives up. Contestant Sarah cycles down from her starting position to get to her key challenge only to see The Interceptor near by in a dinghy.

Episode 7: Cotswolds

Contestant Marcel has to escape the chasing Interceptor by quadbike. Contestant Nikki is taken to her key at the top of a burning building and when he starts chasing her on foot she finds away to escape quicker and The Interceptor loses her and at the end of the episode, Marcel is getting his key on a milk chariet race and The Interceptor is ready to zap him but he is too late and the contestants win the £1000 prize money

Episode 8: Cornwall

Contestant Clive is successfully ambushed by The Interceptor but has a plan to save his partner Sarah from The Interceptor on a lifeboat. Contestant Sarah had a mini hovercraft ride before coming with The Interceptor but was protected by locals. Clive had arranged for a RAF helicopter to come and get her to meet him at the lifeboat but in a dramatic chase, The Interceptor's and the RAF helicopter race. The episode is memorable for The Interceptor going to the extreme of going up to Sarah's face, shrieking, shooting his lazer only for the locals to protect her.

Production trivia

Although each episode appeared to be filmed in real time, it was not. The introduction was filmed the day before the game itself, giving the producers opportunity to re-randomise the backpacks the contestants had chosen. The contestants would be blindfolded from their hotel and driven to a location used as a remote base by Castle Air, the helicopter charter company which supplied the aircraft. The 40-minute game time was also somewhat elastic, with filming and gameplay often suspended.[citation needed]

Two helicopters were used in the production of the series. One of these was the Interceptor's aircraft, the black and yellow Agusta A109, with the registration G-MEAN. The other was G-BHXU, the same Agusta-Bell Jetranger helicopter used in Treasure Hunt, piloted here by Jerry Grayson.

The theme music, composed by Chatsworth's resident composer Zack Laurence, is an adaptation of Chopin's Etude in C minor, Opus 10 Number 12 titled Rock Revolution. It was released as a single with an 'instrumental' B-side (essentially the track minus the piano) titled Interceptor Boogie.

External links


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