G&TV logoHere’s one that’s been doing the rounds lately – a full, decent-quality (in technical terms at least) episode of Cyberzone has recently been uploaded to YouTube by Red Dwarf fan Chris Toone. The short-lived virtual reality game show was notable for several reasons. It was a new format from the brain of Tim Child and his production company Broadsword, in the same vein as their technologically-groundbreaking and hugely entertaining Knightmare. Cyberzone only duplicated that success in one regard, but it will always have its place in fandom folklore thanks to the presenting style of one Craig Charles, who adopted Hattie’s cry of “awooga” from Marooned as a catchphrase, which was in turn “borrowed” by footballer-turned-presenter John Fashanu – a guest on the first episode of the series – as his own catchphrase on the much more popular Gladiators.

The show saw Craig as the “Zone Warden”, guiding two competing teams of two through a series of virtual reality challenges set by arch-villain Thesp, a hybrid of the GamesMaster and Knightmare‘s Lord Fear, played by James Grout. One team comprised two members of the public, taking on a pair of sportspeople, in this case world rally champions Louise Aitken-Walker and Tina Thorner, in the second episode of the series, aired 11th January 1993:

Yeah, it’s not very good, is it? Craig does the best he can to add a little oomph with a presenting style not too different from his later Robot Wars stint, only with added awoogas that soon became irritating. The games are extremely repetitive; each round consists of distinctly themed but fundamentally similar environments (calling the urban one “Cyberswindon” made me chuckle), with teams navigating from room-to-room, solving puzzles to win points as they go. The first two rounds give the teams a go each at racking up as many points as they can, while their opponents also navigate the level in a big virtual vehicle, attempting to block and hinder their progress, although in practice this adds very little, as there’s minimal impact on the gameplay. The big finale adds the exciting twist of having both teams competing for points simultaneously, at the cost of making it even more difficult to follow.

It’s fair to say that the admirable ambition of the series was not matched by the technology of the time, with the blocky, textureless graphics and painfully slow frame-rate resulting in a frustrating watch. The games were dreadfully limited by the players only being able to walk or interact, not both at the same time. As a result, most of the “puzzles” weren’t particularly puzzling, just a series of straight-forward but time-consuming actions to complete. Although there is a brief round of Play Your Cards Right at one point, which perks things up a bit.

On the plus side, this particular episode does manage to conjure up a fairly exciting finale, and the Red Dwarf influence is just about enough to hold the interest. As well as Craig, the lighting and set design were by John Pomphrey and Mel Bibby respectively, giving the studio sections a cosily familiar style. As indeed does this particular outfit choice by a random member of the audience, as glimpsed just before the 17-minute mark:

Sadly, this show was just too far ahead of its time, but maybe there’s a place for it on TV in 2019, now that the technology has caught up with the concept. After all, there are clear parallels to be drawn with this recent Crystal Maze game. Just imagine how angry Gemma Collins would have been if she’d have had to deal with Craig Charles shouting “awooga” every two minutes as well.

25 comments on “G&TV: Cyberzone

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  • I remember watching this during its run. Recycled Red Dwarf sets and Inspector Morse’s boss playing a GamesMaster rip off. Good times.

    * Please don’t mention bloater Collins again please? She would have broken the set anyways…..and not with just her ego!

  • There are many things to mock Gemma Collins for, why be a cunt and opt for her weight?

  • There are many things to mock Gemma Collins for, why be a cunt and opt for her weight?

    Because it’s simply normalizing its ok to be obese. You see young kids queuing for her to sign her book. I mean really? This how far we’ve come. What a fucking role model eh?

  • That last photo has made me remember my own home-made Holoship costume that I wore to school as part of Red Nose Day. I was such a cool kid.

  • Because it’s simply normalizing its ok to be obese. You see young kids queuing for her to sign her book. I mean really? This how far we’ve come. What a fucking role model eh?

    Which is fine, because it IS normal to be fat. Despite what you may believe, your body weight is not actually easy to control, nor is being heavier inherently a problem. What IS a problem is people such as yourself demonising and mocking fat people like this, which doesn’t make anyone thin but does make lots of people miserable.

    Like maybe, just maybe Gemma Collins works as a role model despite her flaws because young fat kids can look at her career and realise that their fatness is not a personal failing that they need to overcome to be successful?

  • Indeed. Look how happy and thin the audience were back then. Then again the country seemed a much better place in 1993. Since 2010 in the main not so much. Thankfully Magic Grandpa will save us!

    Anyway. Did anyone else see the original run back in 1993?

  • Yes, I watched it fairly religiously even though I could tell it was fairly crap even back then.

    I was only just getting into Red Dwarf around that time and was very into videogames (although I never liked playing that early basic VR – it was too clunky and flat and slow) so it was a perfect show for my Venn diagram of interests.

  • I recall liking it. It was a time when VR was becoming more and more prominent. Though I only watched it really cause of Craig.

  • Collins is obese though not just simply fat. Whole different ball game.

    Ah yes, the whole “obese not overweight” classification, AKA the magic weight where it suddenly becomes OK to regard someone as not fully human, and declare their mere existence in the public eye to be problematic. Sure, that definitely sounds like something you’d bring up because you’re a concerned medical expert who just has everyone’s best interests at heart, and not because you’re a fatphobic misogynist.

    Also Rameses, if you genuinely cared about fat people here, then you’d know that dividing people into underweight, ideal weight, overweight and obese is about as medically relevant as dividing them into different skull shapes. :-(

  • It isn’t, but please stop giving this man the time of day, he’s just goading you for responses and that’s what he’s getting. Talk about the piece of shit that is CyberZone, not the piece of shit that is Rameses

  • Wow your hard Ben sat at your keyboard typing that. How do you know I’m not female and work for the NHS? You don’t so….

    Let’s get back on topic and stop being so salty about the bloaters.

  • I love how both people involved in that conversation type like such old men, run on sentences and no punctuation, just an endless thought stream that looks like it was written by a four-year old. It’s beautiful. Danny does it too. Bobby and Doug (you’d expect by this point) know how to write, lmao

  • I wouldn’t worry as sadly this thread is dead….at least in terms of role-playing. PMSL.

  • https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-48826850

    Being obese is not something that should be normalized. Especially by celebrities.

    Dude, you just came out as a bigot on here and you didn’t even get banned or anything. Just take the win.

    And if you insist on “… And another thing!”-ing me anyway, at least link to something that is actually related to or supports your monstrous arguments.

  • So I’m a BIGot for bemoaning about how an obese celebrity is given the limelight particularly to young kids.

    * I don’t think you know what bigot means dude.

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