Interceptor (ITV, 1989-1990)
One of Channel 4’s most-successful shows in its earliest days was Treasure Hunt. After this ended, production company Chatsworth launched a new hour-long show on ITV with a similar idea that again combined action and adventure in an against-the-clock challenge. Interceptor was hosted by Annabel Croft, who was also the skyrunner in the final series of Treasure Hunt. Every edition would be set in a different part of the UK.
Two contestants took part, one in yellow, and one in blue. They were both given backpacks featuring five infrared sensors. One contained £1,000, and the other contained no money, they didn’t know which was which. The two contestants are then flown to separate locations about six miles apart blindfolded, so they’ll have no idea where they are going. Then the 40 minutes on the clock begin.
First, they have to find the key to the backpack. So they have to travel as quickly as they can (cue aimless running around), and can use various forms of transport and technology to help them. They keep in touch with Annabel who tells them their location using a map, and they can also ask locals for clues and advice. However, the Interceptor (Sean O’Kane, who played the villain role for all that it was worth) is determined to stop them, and he will do anything that he can to do so.
He also has access to transport, including a helicopter (where he often bickered with the pilot Mikey, and they almost became a comedy double-act), a car and a motorbike. His aim is to zap the contestant’s sensors with his special gun, meaning that the backpack will be locked, so the key won’t open it, and they will fail (he only has a limited number of shots though). If he gets them in his sight, he becomes rather overexcited.
The contestants don’t meet the Interceptor beforehand, so they don’t know what he looks like, but they will soon realise that he’s on their path, with his big black coat and strange squawking noises. They have to get the key and meet each other before the time runs out, which led to some tense finishes. If they run out of time or get zapped, instead of the money, they take away some consolation prizes.
There were clearly hopes that Interceptor would be a success, especially as attracting Treasure Hunt fans shouldn’t have been a problem. And it was to some extent, but it was rather expensive to produce, and surprisingly there were only eight editions in one series, it could easily have run for much longer. Honestly, they didn’t even get as far as a celebrity special!
Interceptor is still held in high regard three decades on though, with several repeat runs on Challenge helping to maintain a cult following with many viewers. There would be better things to come for Chatsworth though, when their next action/adventure game show with an even more ambitious idea called The Crystal Maze ended up not doing too badly.