Interceptor (TV series)
||This article includes a list of references, related reading or external links, but its sources remain unclear because it lacks inline citations. (February 2013)|
|Created by||Jacques Antoine|
|Presented by||Annabel Croft|
|Starring||Sean O'Kane (The Interceptor)|
|Country of origin||United Kingdom|
|No. of series||1|
|No. of episodes||8|
|Running time||60 minutes (including adverts)|
|Production company(s)||Chatsworth in association with Thames|
|Original run||19 July 1989– 1 January 1990|
|Preceded by||Treasure Hunt (1982–1989)|
|Followed by||The Crystal Maze (1990–1995)|
Interceptor is a British game show created by Jacques Antoine, Jean Jacques Pasquier and Malcolm Heyworth. It was produced by Chatsworth in association with Thames and shown on the ITV network during the summer of 1989, with one last episode held back and shown on 1 January 1990 for a New Year special. It was made in between Treasure Hunt and The Crystal Maze, game shows from the same production company.
Interceptor was received well by critics and viewers, yet only eight episodes (one series) were made. Nonetheless, the show has something of a cult following, which influenced re-runs on digital TV channel Challenge from 2001 onwards. A public vote by UKGameshows.com in 2002 saw the series voted the UK's 13th best game show.
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, Annabel Croft, 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 containing nothing but weights. Both backpacks had five large infra-red receptors on the back. The contestants would be blindfolded and taken by helicopter to locations in the area. The challenge was for both contestants, under radio guidance from Croft, 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 and a catchphrase, "I LIKE IT!" whenever he spotted a contestant from his helicopter or if he won at the end of an episode. His role 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. (Although not declared in the programme, The Interceptor was only allowed a mamximum of 20 "zaps" per show, and had a digital readout on his laser projector which informed him of how many shots he had left).
Distance was also a major enemy to the contestant, causing them to ask 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 '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. It was also claimed that a hovercraft was available to him, though, this was never used. The INT number plates were not real; the producers had special permission to film whilst using them.
The contestants' 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.
The eight existing episodes were recorded over the summer of 1989 and shown soon afterwards. The first seven episodes were aired on a Wednesday. 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.
The series appeared to do well 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 ITV franchise Thames wanted to propose Interceptor for another ITV network commission in 1990, Thames was already responsible for a very large section of ITV's prime-time 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 which had put in a larger bid.
No further series of the programme were made and on New Year's Eve 1992, Thames lost its franchise, being replaced by Carlton on New Year's Day 1993.
Despite its premature termination, Interceptor retains a cult following. Pressure exerted by these fans led to digital TV channel Challenge re-running the series in 2001 alongside other 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 in 2003.
In April 2012, Challenge began re-running the series, firstly on weekends at 11:00 (14 April - 6 May 2012) and then on Monday evenings at 23:00 (7 May - 18 June 2012). A further set of repeats began on 29 July 2013, with episodes screened at 17:00 on weekday evenings.
Episode 1: Kent
Contestant Mark had to get his key from a hive of bees. The Interceptor chased contestant Candy (who was travelling in a Rolls Royce) on horseback. Towards the end of the episode, the Interceptor successfully sneaked up on an oblivious Mark and zapped his backpack at point-blank range. After doing so, he screamed into his ear. Ironically, the vehicles both contestants were travelling in actually passed each other with seconds to go. Had they realised and stopped the vehicles, they would've probably won the money as Candy's backpack had not been zapped. As it ended up, Mark and Candy did not meet up within the 40-minute time limit.
First broadcast on 19 July 1989.
Episode 2: Norfolk
While contestant Roger tried to get his key in the middle of a maze in a stately home, the Interceptor planned an ambush. However, Roger got away before the Interceptor could zap him. Contestant Claire taunted the Interceptor from a train then went on a pleasure cruise to get near her key on a river as Roger approached. The Interceptor hijacked a boat and attempted to stop them, but Roger and Claire met up within the time limit and won the £1,000. The Interceptor was arrested by the police because he went over the speed limit on the river.
First broadcast on 26 July 1989.
Episode 3: Wye Valley
Contestant Mark enlisted the help of the army to find his key, and his partner Sue later used a canoe to collect her key from under a bridge. The episode ended with the Interceptor screeching over the bridge in his Maserati while Mark and Sue struggled to find each other. Although the two contestants met up with 1 minute remaining, the Interceptor had zapped both their backpacks.
First broadcast on 2 August 1989.
Episode 4: Cumbria
Contestant Max made his way on the Ravenglass and Eskdale Railway to his key challenge and the Interceptor climbed along the train in pursuit of Max. Contestant Suzanne got soaked in Wast Water while trying to get her key. At the end of the episode, the Interceptor blocked the entrance to the Eskdale Outward Bound Centre where contestant Suzanne was coming but her partner Max grabbed her just in time before the Interceptor. They won the money with 6 seconds to spare. Additionally, it turned out that the Interceptor had failed to zap both backpacks.
First broadcast on 9 August 1989.
Episode 5: Derbyshire
Contestant Martin had a brief chase with The Interceptor but got away in the nick of time. Contestant Hillary was unaware that she was taken on a ride in a tractor by the Interceptor. The farmers at the farm where she got 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 was a success. When he locked Hillary's pack, he shrieked many times and yelled in joy, only for Hillary to jump on a nearby van, jokingly threatening to hit The Interceptor with a spade if he didn'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.
First broadcast on 16 August 1989.
Episode 6: Borders
The Interceptor wouldn't leave contestant Mike alone as he got his key from the top of a factory, but while attempting an ambush, he was spotted by Mike and gave up. Contestant Sarah cycled down from her starting position to get to her key challenge on a river, only to see the Interceptor nearby in a dinghy. Mike and Sarah failed to meet up within the 40-minute time limit, and it turned out that the Interceptor had failed to zap Sarah's backpack — which contained the £1,000.
First broadcast on 23 August 1989.
Episode 7: Cotswolds
Contestant Marcel had to escape the chasing Interceptor by quadbike. Contestant Nikki was taken to her key at the top of a burning building and when he started chasing her on foot she finds a way to escape quicker and the Interceptor lost her and at the end of the episode, Marcel was getting his key on a chariot race and the Interceptor was ready to zap him but he was too late and the contestants won the £1,000 prize money.
First broadcast on 30 August 1989.
Episode 8: Cornwall
Contestant Clive was successfully ambushed by the Interceptor but had 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 was memorable for the Interceptor going to the extreme of going up to Sarah's face, shrieking, shooting his infra-red gun only for the locals to protect her. Unfortunately, whilst Sarah's backpack opened, Clive had the money.
First broadcast on 1 January 1990.
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 40-minute game time was also somewhat elastic, with filming and gameplay often suspended.
Two helicopters were used in the production of the series supplied, as in Treasure Hunt by Cornwall-based company Castle Air. 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.