Way back at the end of the 70s and the early 80s, there were two interesting trends. One was the arrival of the micro-computer. And with the arrival of the micro-computer came games. Screw work, hey?
Most important of all the new computer games, given the graphics of the time, were adventure games. These were commonly text-based: you got a load of text chucked at you – "You are in a small room. In the room is a chest of drawers" – to which you typed in a load of two word commands – "OPEN CHEST" – in order to solve all sorts of puzzles that had been set for you.
At the same time, role-playing games were taking off. In these, you had someone read out the words – "You are in a small room. In the room is a chest of drawers" – to which you responded as some kind of made up medieval character/spaceman/whatever "Doest the chest containeth anything usefuleth?"
Some people got a bit tired by that and decided they'd do it for real – imagine Michael Douglas in The Game or Steven Dillane in The One Game, except with someone rolling dice as you wandered round a deserted lunatic asylum dressed as a wood elf.
And then someone had a cracking idea. "Why," asked TV producer Patrick Dowling, "don't we do something like that on tele for kids?" And thus, The Crystal Maze was born.
Hang on. That's not right.
No, wind back a decade or so and switch channel. Because back on the BBC, someone had the idea of something more cerebral and a touch more sci-fi, in which celebrities and brainy members of the public would travel to a far off planet (the BBC studios), interact with shape-changing dragons, and try to solve puzzles that would allow them to go home.
It was The Adventure Game, it lasted for four series. It's never been repeated or released on DVD. It's a Lost Gem. Which is ironic because the pesky dragons kept nicking the gems every week.
Here are the titles to get you in the mood.