Fort Boyard (game show)
Logo of Fort Boyard since 2015.
|Also known as||Les Clés de Fort Boyard|
Melinda Messenger (1998–2001)|
Jodie Penfold (2003)
Patrice Laffont (French version, 1990–1999)
Jean-Pierre Castaldi (French version, 2000–2002)
Olivier Minne (French version, 2003–)
Leslie Grantham (1998–2001)|
Christopher Ellison (2003)
Geoffrey Bayldon (1998–2001)
Tom Baker (2003)
|Theme music composer||Paul Koulak|
|Country of origin||France|
|No. of series||
158 (in total, all countries up to 2017)|
28 (French version)
5 (English version)
|No. of episodes||
1,748 (overall total, all countries up to 2017)|
317 (French version, at the end of 2017 season)
78 (English version)
|Production location(s)||Fort Boyard, France|
UK: 60 mins (inc. adverts)|
France: 100 mins (2011–)
France: 60–120 mins (1990–2010)
Adventure Line Productions|
Grundy Productions (UK: 1998–2001)
Thames Television (UK: 2001)
Ronin TV (UK: 2003)
Pearson Television (UK: 1998–2001)|
FremantleMedia (UK: 2001)
Zodiak Media Group (now Banijay Group)
Antenne 2 (France: 1990–91)|
France 2 (France: since 1992)
Channel 5 (UK: 1998–2001)
Challenge (UK: 2003)
16:9 (most countries, 2008–)
16:9 HD (2013–)
French version: |
7 July 1990 – present
16 October 1998 –
3 December 2003 (UK)
Fort Boyard: Takes On The World|
Fort Boyard: Ultimate Challenge
The Crystal Maze|
The Desert Forges
|Official French website|
Fort Boyard is a French game show created by Jacques Antoine that was first broadcast on 7 July 1990 (originally as Les Clés de Fort Boyard, however shortened to Fort Boyard from the second series in 1991). Foreign versions of the show have aired around the world since 1990.
Set and filmed on the real fortress of the same name in France, the programme appears similar to The Crystal Maze (which was created as an alternative format by Antoine for Channel 4 in the United Kingdom, after Fort Boyard itself was unavailable to film in because of its then ongoing refurbishment during 1988–89). Channel 5 later bought the rights to Fort Boyard and made their own British version, using the now refurbished set, which aired from 16 October 1998 to 29 December 2001 for four series. It was briefly revived by Challenge in 2003 for one series and the show later returned to UK television in January 2012 under a new format aired on CITV, Fort Boyard: Ultimate Challenge. This version ended in December 2014 after 5 series, the first two of which were co-produced with Disney XD.
In both programmes the contestants have to complete challenges to win prize money. However, while The Crystal Maze varies the type of games quite considerably, Fort Boyard tends to focus mainly on physical and endurance challenges. Although Fort Boyard was something of a pioneer in the area of game show fear and adventure, later programmes such as Fear Factor have pushed things even further, requiring Fort Boyard to react and adapt with new twists and games, including a couple of seasons in which the contestants spent the night in the Fort (this was particularly popular in the French and Russian versions).
In the UK, two sets of presenters have been used for Fort Boyard. The first set appeared during the first four series of the show, which were broadcast by Channel 5, with the second appearing in the 2003 Challenge-aired fifth series. The Channel 5 years were produced by Paul Kirrage and executive produced by Richard Holloway, later known for producing The X Factor and other high-profile shows on UK television. Although pulling in reasonable ratings for the channel, in March 2002 it was announced that Channel 5 had cancelled the show as part of a station revamp.
The leading presenters of Fort Boyard on Channel 5 and Challenge were Melinda Messenger (series 1–4) and Jodie Penfold (series 5). Their roles were to give advice and support for the teams, commentate for the viewers, and match wits with Boyard, the "Master of the Fort".
The other characters in Fort Boyard are:
- Boyard (played by Leslie Grantham in series 1–4, Christopher Ellison in series 5) is the "Master of the Fort", who sets the challenges that the team must complete to win. In the UK versions of the show, he is portrayed as a selfish, commanding, and malevolent character who takes great pleasure in ensuring that fear and failure plague the contestants. Grantham portrayed these traits slightly more strongly, with Ellison sometimes showing sympathy, or even being generous to the contestants.
- The Professor (Geoffrey Bayldon, series 1–4) is an eccentric scientist who has become mad over the years as a result of being kept prisoner by Boyard in the 'Watch Tower'. His task is to ask the contestants riddles, which, if answered correctly, will give the team a key or clue word. If they don't answer it correctly, he would throw the key into the sea. Along with Captain Baker, he also talks to the contestants briefly before asking the riddles and to the viewers.
- Captain Baker (Tom Baker, series 5), the replacement for The Professor, is an insane sea captain held captive by Boyard.
Fort Boyard cast
There is also the resident Fort Boyard cast, who first appeared in the French version, and were subsequently featured in most of the other international formats, including the original UK versions, however these were all excluded for Fort Boyard: Ultimate Challenge:
- Jacques (1990–) and Jules (1990–2009) (André Bouchet and Alain Prévost respectively) are two dwarves who lead the team through the Fort to the next challenge. Denis (Anthony Laborde) later in the show replaces Jules, who retired in 2010. Deni has appeared in the foreign versions since 2000 (replacing Jules) and from 2004 in the French series. The three are called Passe-Partout, Passe-Temps, and Passe-Muraille respectively in the French version.
- Jacques (Passe-Partout) is also responsible for locking the contestants in the cells of the Fort if they fail to get out within the time limit; whilst Jules (Passe-Temps), in later series, Deni (Passe-Muraille) takes contestants to the Watch Tower. In duel versions, Deni plays the same role of Jacques. This is because two teams are playing at the same time.
- Monique (1991–1997, 1999–2005, 2007–) (Monique Angeon) turns a statue shaped as a tiger's head to release the gold or close the gate in the 'Treasure Room'. She is called Felindra in the French version and was absent in 1998 and in 2006, replaced by Kareen Le Portier (Thierry's daughter).
- In 1998, the unnamed Tiger Master (Thierry Le Portier) performs this role. He is called Major in the French version.
- La Boule (1994–2013) (Yves Marchesseau, 1952–2014) sounds the "gong" to indicate the start and end of time and locks the contestants in cages when they fail to get out of challenge rooms in time. La Boule is a whaler, who has possibly found refuge in the Fort. He left the show in May 2014 for health reasons. Marchesseau died of oesophageal cancer and diabetes in September 2014 at the age of 62. Since leaving Felindra, the tiger tamer, handles the sound the gong (now inside the Treasure Room) with her whip.
- Mr Boo and Lady Boo (2011–) the two wrestlers. Mr Boo has replaced La Boule since 2014 by taking prisoners to the dungeon.
As of 2014, there have been 41 characters in the French version. Most appeared in various games on the fort.
On 26 December 1999, a celebrity edition of Fort Boyard was broadcast, featuring Gabby Logan, Frank Bruno, Sharron Davies, Samuel Kane, and Glenda McKay as contestants. As a one-off, the show's length was extended to 80 minutes so that the team had to get five keys (instead of four) and the code word in fifty-five minutes. The team won £7,910 for their nominated charity.
Series 3 aired two celebrity editions of Fort Boyard following the success of the 1999 special; broadcast on 5 January and 25 August 2001, one edition featured Rhodri Williams, Lisa Rogers, "Handy" Andy Kane, Tricia Penrose and Phil Gayle as the contestants. Rhodri was the team captain and the team won £14,350 for charity. The other featured Anna Walker, Victor Ubogu, Annalise Braakensiek, Tim Vincent and Troy Titus-Adams. Anna Walker captained the team and they won £7,190 for charity.
Another celebrity edition aired at the end of series four (episode 14) in 2001 featuring Sally Gray, Scott Wright, Nell McAndrew, Keith Duffy and Tris Payne. Sally Gray was the team captain and the team won £10,130 for charity. Episode 4 of series 4, on 13 October 2001, was a special featuring contestants from series 1 of The Mole.
Celebrity editions were also broadcast during the 2003 series by Challenge. It featured Doug Williams, Nikita (now stars in TNA), Paul Burchill, James Tighe, and Sweet Saraya, all of whom were wrestling stars from British promotion FWA. Doug Williams captained the team. Other celebrities appearing in series 5 included Tim Vine and Craig Phillips, Big Brother 2000 winner. The team won £1,860 for charity, which was topped up by a further £5,000 because Tim Vine accepted a challenge to tell 10 jokes in one minute.
Since 1993, teams on the French version of the show consist entirely of celebrities. These include: cyclist Laurent Fignon, figure skating champion Brian Joubert (appearing in 2004, 2007, 2008 and 2012), Djibril Cissé, Omar Sy, R&B singer Leslie (in 2002, 2003 and 2013), Tony Parker and Eva Longoria in 2009, and many others. Many former/new hosts of the show have often appeared as contestants.
However, in 2010 the formula was dramatically changed and the squads, of four members each, did not consist of any celebrities. The "duel" format was used that year. The celebrities returned in 2011 playing for charity.
In most series of the Danish and Swedish versions, teams have consisted entirely of celebrities. In the 2010 and 2012 series of the Finnish version, team members were celebrities. Most (or all) episodes of the Russian series consisted of famous national singers, actors, TV presenters and sportsmen.
In the 2013 Canadian version, the teams consisted of 24 participants in total; 12 celebrities and 12 members of the public, divided into six teams of four equally.
In the Argentine version of the show, aired in 1999 and 2000, a celebrity joined the other 4 people to help them on their challenges.
In the Moroccan version, aired in early 2015 but filmed the previous year, 3 celebrities joined teams with 2 unknown people for the challenges. The first episode of Jazirat Al Kanz aired on 24 February and was watched by 6.4 million viewers, a record 59% audience share for 2MTV.
Fort Boyard around the world
Fort Boyard is a French game show first broadcast in 1990; but the fort is also used by television stations from other countries to produce their own versions of the show. Foreign versions of the show can last between 22 and 80 minutes, depending on the country and format used. In total, 31 foreign versions of the show have broadcast around the world since 1990.
Italy has only ever made a pilot for Fort Boyard, in 1991. In October 2010, it was reported that Brazil and Tunisia had signed on for 2011. However, no series was later produced for either country. A Chinese version of the show was confirmed to be filmed in mid-September 2015, however it was later cancelled due to censorship worries.
In December 2012, Ukrainian channel ICTV announced they were due to film the country's second season of the show. However, for unknown reasons, the filming did not take place.
Legend: No longer airingCurrently airing or returning
|Country||Local title||Format||Presenters||Channel||Fort's Tower||Airdate|
Bourj El Abtal
|One team (Classic)||Momo Djender & Samira Zitouni||Canal Algérie||Yousfi Toufik||2006, 2008–2012|
|Fort Boyard||Julián Weich & Araceli González||Canal 13||Isabel Achaval||1999–2000|
|Fort Boyard||Tina Kandelaki & Ruben Jaghinyan||Armenia TV||Hrachia Harutyunyan||2009|
|Fort Boyard||Two teams (Duel)||Zaur Bakhshaliyev & Metanet Eliverdiyeva||ATV||Orxan Fikretoglu (2013)
Fariday Karimov (2014)
|De Sleutels van Fort Boyard (in Dutch)||Two teams (Duel countries)||Hans Schiffers & Alexandra Potvin||BRT||Jan Wegter||1992|
|Fort Boyard (in Dutch)||One team (Classic)||Dagmar Liekens & Chris Van den Durpel||VT4||Luk D'heu||1999–2001|
|Fort Boyard (in French)||Jean-Michel Zecca & Sandrine Dans||RTL-TVI||Jean-Paul Andret (2006)
Yann Le Gac (2007)
|Fort Boyard||Tri-nations (Duels)
One team (Classic) (2010)
|Dimitar Pavlov & Monsieur Rochelle||bTV||Philippe Leray||2008–2010|
|Fort Boyard (in French)||One team (Classic)||Guy Richer & France Beaudoin (1993)
Guy Mongrain (1994–2001)
Marie-Soleil Tougas (1994–97)
Sylvie Bernier (1998–2001)
|TVA||Yann Le Gac||1993–2001|
|One team (Classic), Two teams (Duel)||Guillaume Lemay-Thivierge & Dave Morissette (2013–2014)||2014–2015|
|Pevnost Boyard||One team (Classic)||Libor Bouček||Prima||Jan Rosák||2016–2017|
|Fangerne på Fortet||One team (Classic)||Thomas Mygind (1993–2000)
Camilla Sachs Bostrup (1993–95)
Kamilla Gregersen (1995–97)
Camilla Ottesen (1997–2000)
|TV3||Ove Sprogøe (1993)
Tage Axelson (1993–95)
Ole Ernst (1995–2000)
|Two teams (Duel)||Camilla Ottesen & Peter Schmeichel||N/A||2009–2010|
|Fort Boyard – Linnake||Two teams (Duel)||Merja Larivaara & Kari-Pekka Toivonen||SuomiTV||2010|
|Ellen Jokikunnas & Ivan Puopolo (2012)||Nelonen||2013|
|Fort Boyard Suomi||Joanna Kuvaja & Ilkka Uusivuori||MTV3||2018|
|Les Clés de Fort Boyard (1990)
Fort Boyard (1991–)
|One team (Classic)
Two teams (Duel) (2010)
|Patrice Laffont (1990–99)
Marie Talon (1990, first 9 episodes)
Sophie Davant (1990–91)
Valérie Pascal (1992)
Cendrine Dominguez (1993–2002)
Jean-Pierre Castaldi (2000–02)
Olivier Minne (2003–present)
Sarah Lelouch (2003–05)
Anne-Gaëlle Riccio (2006–09)
|Michel Scourneau (1990)
Yann Le Gac (1991–present)
Didier Hervé (2002)
|7 July 1990 – present|
|Fort Boyard||One team (Classic)||Duta Skhirtladze & ?||Rustavi 2||Unknown||2004|
|Fort Boyard||Reiner Schöne & Rita Werner||Sat.1||Michel Scourneau||1990|
|Fort Boyard – Stars auf Schatzsuche||Steven Gätjen, Alexander Mazza & Sonya Kraus (2000–01)||Pro 7||Sonya Kraus||2000, 2002|
|Fort Boyard||Two teams (Duel)||Andrea Kaiser & Alexander Wesselsky (2010)||Kabel 1||N/A||2011|
|One team (Classic)||Matthias Killing||Sat.1||TBA||2018|
|Fort Boyard||One team (Classic)
Two teams (Duel) (2006–2008)
|Christos Ferentinos & Orthoula Papadakou||STAR||Angelos Papadimitriou||2004–2008|
|Fort Boyard AZ ERŐD||One team (Classic)||Vizy Andras & Demcsák Zsuzsa||TV2||György Bárdy||2000|
|Aki Avni & Sigal Shachmon||Channel 2||Yehuda Fuchs||1998–1999|
Hella wo Ehtalla
|Tony Baroud & Karen Derkaloustian||LBC||Gabriel Yammmin||2002–2003|
|Hicham Masrar & Rachid Allali||2M TV||Kamal Kadimi||2015–|
|De Sleutels van Fort Boyard||Bas Westerweel & Ria Visser||NPO 1||Jan Wegter||1991|
|Two teams (Duel countries)||Hans Schiffers & Alexandra Potvin||1992|
|Fort Boyard||Two teams (Duel)||Gerard Ekdom (2011–12)
Lauren Verster (2012, 2014)
Art Rooijakkers (2011)
Freek Bartels (2014)
|Fangene på Fortet (1993–97, 1999, 2010–11)
Nye Fanger på Fortet (2000)
|One team (Classic)||Jon Michelet & Lise Nilssen (1993)
Steffen Tangstad (1994)
Nils Ole Oftebro (1995–96, 1999–2000)
Elisa Røtterud (2000)
|TV3||Helge Reiss (1993)
Toralv Maurstad (1994)
Lars Andreas Larssen (1995–96)
Trond Brænne (1999–2000)
|Two teams (Duel)||Daniel Franck (2010–11)
Jenny Skavlan (2010)
Henriette Lien (2011)
|Fort Boyard||One team (Classic)||Robert Gonera & Katarzyna Glinka||TVP2||Janusz Weiss||2008|
|Fort Boyard||Paul Ipate & Octavian Strunila||Pro TV||Marius Manole||2017|
|Форт Боярд||Leonid Parfyonov & Yelena Khanga||NTV||Vadim Gushchin||1998|
|Sergey Brilev & Yanina Batyrchina||Rossiya 1||Nikolay Denisov||2002|
|Leonid Yarmolnik & Oxana Fedorova||Vasily Livanov (2003)
Aleksandr Adabashyan (2004)
|Two teams (Duel)||Leonid Yarmolnik, Ekaterina Konovalova & Elena Korikova||Aleksandr Filippenko||2006|
|Nikolai Valuev & Anna Ardova (2013)||Channel One||Viktor Verzhbitsky||2014|
|Fort Boyard||Tri-nations (Duels)||Ivan Jevtovic||Fox televizija||Philippe Leray||2008–2009|
|Pevnosť Boyard||One team (Classic)||Stano Pavlík (1998–99)
Andrea Timková (1998)
Kveta Horváthová (1999)
|TV Markíza||Ľubo Gregor (1998)
Marian Zednikovic (1999)
|Martin Nikodým & Diana Hágerová||Michal Ďuriš||2017|
|Fort Boyard||Nam Hee Suk & Lee Hyori||SBS||Ji Seok Jin||2003|
|Fort Boyard||Paula Vázquez & Félix Álvarez||Telecinco||Óscar Ladoire||2001|
|Fångarna på fortet
|One team (Classic) (1990–2000)
Two teams (Duel) (2003–2017)
|Erik Blix & Anne Barlind (1990)
Gunde Svan (1992–98, 2010–17)
Agneta Sjödin (1992–94, 1998, 2010–14, 2016–17)
Kayo Shekoni (1995–97)
Hans Fahlén & Kristin Kaspersen (2003–04)
Marie Serneholt (2015)
|TV4||Martin Myrberg (1990)
Stig Ossian Ericson (1992–2000)
Felix Herngren (2003–05)
Rolf Skoglund (2010)
Lasse Brandeby (2011)
Peter Magnusson (2012)
Börje Ahlstedt (2013–16)
Rikard Wolff (2017)
|One team (Classic)||Gry Forssell & Henrik Johnsson (Spring)
Håkan Södergren & Linda Nyberg (Autumn)
|TV3||Stig Ossian Ericson||2000|
|Fort Boyard||Lolita Morena & Enrico Carpani||TSR||Cito Steiger||1995|
|Hazine Adasi||Yosi Mizrahl & Jancet Paçal||Star TV||Princesse Yassémindé||2000|
|Fort Boyard||Tri-nations (Duels)||Evrim Akın||Fox Turkey||Philippe Leray||2008–2009|
|Форт Буаяр||One team (Classic)||Gregory Hlady & Vita Smatcheliouk||1+1||Bohdan Stupka||2004|
|Fort Boyard||Melinda Messenger & Leslie Grantham||Channel 5||Geoffrey Bayldon||1998–2001|
|Jodie Penfold & Christopher Ellison||Challenge||Tom Baker||2003|
|Fort Boyard: Ultimate Challenge||Two teams (Duel)||Laura Hamilton & Geno Segers (2011), Andy Akinwolere (2012–14)||CITV||N/A||2012–2014|
|Conquer Fort Boyard||Chris Berman & Cathy Lee Crosby (1991)||ABC||1993 (pilot)|
|Fort Boyard: Ultimate Challenge||Two teams (Duel countries)||Laura Hamilton & Geno Segers||Disney XD||2011–2012|
Some countries, such as Portugal, aired the original French version dubbed or with subtitles as opposed to producing their own. Azerbaijan (Lider TV, 2009–2010), Czech Republic (French version: TV Nova (1994–1995); Prima Cool since 2012, airs series 3–5 of the UK version and the French version), Poland, Finland (Yle TV1 in 1993), Romania (TVR1, 1992; Pro TV, 1995–1997), Russia, Slovakia and Ukraine also did this before producing their own versions in later years.
In France, reruns of their own version have aired on Gulli (2006–2014), TV5Monde Europe, 1ère, and France 4 since 6 September 2014. In Belgium, since 2017, RTBF acquired rights allowing it to broadcast the show on the eve of its release in France. Ukraine (ТЕТ, 2006–2007), Georgia (Rustavi 2, 2010), Slovakia (Dajto, 2013), Algeria (A3), Quebec (Prise 2, 2009–2010) and the UK have also repeated past series.
Other versions have aired in a number of countries, including:
Belarus (Russian version on ONT in 2013) Canada (Mentv aired the UK version, 2005–200?) China Cyprus (Greek version on Sigma TV until mid-2010) Indonesia (TV5Monde Asie) Japan Jordan (JRTV Channel 2) Malaysia (NTV7 since 2010, aired series 1–2 of the UK version) Portugal (RTP1, 1994–1995) Slovenia Thailand Venezuela
|Table of countries and format used in all versions (1990–present)|
|Single team version|
|Joint teen games|
Each year, several episodes are recorded from May to July (or August in 2000; due to a large number of countries attending) for various television networks around the world, mostly in Europe.
Returns to the fort
The United Kingdom, Norway and Sweden returned in 2011 to film new series' of the show. That same year, the Netherlands also returned after a 20-year absence. These have all adapted to the new "duel" version. Finland and Russia returned in 2012, after a break of one and five years respectively. Canada returned to the fort in 2013, after an absence of 12 years since the last season was recorded in 2000 (broadcast in 2001) and produced their first "duel" version of the show.
Belgium, Denmark & Germany returned in recent years for a new series, but have not since 2011. Armenia and Bulgaria (as a solo nation) in 2009, Finland in 2010, Azerbaijan in 2013, Morocco in 2014, Czech Republic in 2016 and Romania in 2017, joined to produce their own versions. Bulgaria previously took part in a Balkans tri-nations version during 2007 & 2008, with former participant Turkey (who last filmed a single-team version in 2000). Slovakia returned in 2017 after an absence of 18 years.
Currently, the year 2000 contains the most episodes filmed of any year (123 for eleven countries). To date, 2005 has the least (26), with just the French and Greek versions attending.
- 1990: 40
- 1991: 37
- 1992: 32
- 1993: 54
- 1994: 64
- 1995: 76
- 1996: 76
- 1997: 57
- 1998: 59
- 1999: 115
- 2000: 123
- 2001: 45
- 2002: 35
- 2003: 100
- 2004: 81
- 2005: 26
- 2006: 72
- 2007: 61
- 2008: 78
- 2009: 52
- 2010: 71
- 2011: 84
- 2012: 64
- 2013: 53
- 2014: 71
- 2015: 32
- 2016: 42
- 2017: 57
- 2018: 34
- Overall number of episodes filmed since 1990 = 1,748 (at the end of 2017 filming)
- Overall number of French episodes filmed = 317 (in 28 seasons)
Fort Boyard's format varies from country to country, but the basics are the same. A team of friends enter the Fort with the intention of winning the gold. To do this, the contestants have to successfully complete a series of challenges set by Boyard himself.
The first thing done in the game is the sounding of the Fort's gong by French character 'La Boule'. Once the gong sounds the game time begins ticking down. In the UK version the game lasted for 40 minutes, in the French version 60 to 120 minutes, depending on the year. As of 2013, most countries use the show's new "duel" version, except the French.
The show's original format is outlined in the following sections, starting with 'Phase One'.
The first set of challenges the contestants have to complete is to win a certain number of keys (in series 1–4 of the UK version four keys were needed, whereas five were need in series 5; five were needed in the Canadian version, and seven in the Swedish and Danish versions. The current French version requires 9 keys). These keys, once won, are used to open the gate to the Treasure Room, a central room in the Fort where the gold is held.
The challenges that are set to win the keys are located in small cells around the Fort, with small water-timers (a Clepsydre) outside to give the contestant a time limit (around 2–3 minutes, depending on the game) to complete it; in the UK version, Boyard would start the timer upon saying to a contestant that "their time starts now", whereas in the 5th series, Boyard would start it after telling Jacques to open the door of a challenge room. If a contestant fails to leave the challenge room before the time runs out, he or she is locked in and then shortly after taken away to a cage (by La Boule or Mr Boo since 2011) meaning they are not allowed to continue with the rest of the key games and must stay there until the end of Phase One. In the UK's 4th series, La Boule would give the contestant a large bunch of rusty keys. One of these keys would unlock the cage allowing the contestant to re-join the team.
During this phase of the game, one contestant goes up to the Watch Tower to win an additional key for the team (see below). This could be done twice.
Once the contestants reach the end of Phase One, usually towards the end of their game time, there is a trip to the Treasure Room with all of the keys that they have won so far. If they have enough to unlock the Treasure Room Door then the keys are entered and the gate is unlocked. However, it does not open until later in the show.
If they are short of keys to open the gate then team members are 'sacrificed' for keys, one team member for each key short. The 'sacrificed' contestants are then placed in an underground cell and locked in. These team members remain for the rest of the game, and are therefore unable to contribute any more for the team. Although this never happened, hypothetically at least in Series 5 in the UK, if no keys were won in Phase One, it would have been impossible for the team to continue the game since in Series 5 in the UK five keys were needed to open the treasure room door, and since there are only 5 contestants, and no one is allowed to swim for the Captain's keys, every contestant would have to make a sacrifice for all five keys leaving no contestants spare to get clue words to workout the code word and release the gold.
In the recent seasons of the French version, if a team is short of keys then team members could be 'sacrificed' by facing "Judgment" (Le Jugement), hosted by the character Blanche. In Judgment, each sacrificed team member would have to complete a challenge set by Blanche. If the sacrificed team member was successful in his/her challenge, Blanche would grant him/her their freedom and would be able to rejoin the team. However, if the team member fails the challenge, he/she would be sent to prison.
If the team has more keys than necessary to unlock the gate then any extra keys gained can be swapped for free clue words to assist the team in the next phase of the game.
Phase One challenges
From 1990 to 2014, there were 185 different events (key games). The name of the game may change, but the game itself usually remains the same; where possible, this list will use the names from Ultimate Challenge.
Note: This is NOT the full list of games that have been played. The years below are for when the game was played or last present at the fort, in the French version or Ultimate Challenge (some games are present but not played every year). A full list of games can be found here.
Here is a selection of some of these challenges:
|List of selected games|
|Cell No.||Name (in France)||Year(s)||Information||Status|
|Arm Wrestling (Bras de fer)||1990–2002,|
|The contestant has to arm wrestle against the strongman, whilst trying to grab the key, which is in a little box, with the other hand. Between their hands is a lever, so as the contestant pushes the strongman's arm down, the key is lowered so it becomes accessible to grab.||Removed |
|113||Asylum (Asile)||2001–2006||Upon entry, the contestant notes that the key is trapped in a metal shaft. He or she then pulls a lever, which raises the key on this axis, but the lever moves to the other side of the partition that separates the cell into two. The contestant must then pass to the other side of this through a padded door rocker, the latter operating in the strength of the shoulders by throwing themeselves on the top to push it over. Once on the other side, he or she can once again operate the lever, which will again raise the key further. After several trips, the key is released from its axis and the contestant can finally collect the key and exit the cell.||Removed |
|202 (balcony)||Balancing Brollies (Parapluies)||2013–||In this event, the contestant must walk a very narrow airway strap placed across the width of the courtyard and above the Treasury Room. It starts from the balcony of the 212 cell and progresses on the strap holding two umbrellas for balance. The two umbrellas are themselves held by cables. The goal is to get a portfolio at the end of the strap. When this first action is made, the contestant must do the opposite and return to its starting point. When returned, he/she must open the wallet with a clip, since it is closed with a wire. Then it remains for him/her to open it and send the code to the team, to open the lock of the safe containing the key.||Present in foreign versions|
|114||Ball Surfing (Aiguilleur)||1998–2002||To release the key the contestant has to get one ball into the bucket at the end of the runway, four sections of which are not in position. Contestants stand on a surfboard, which swivels these sections, but if they don't move quickly enough to line up the next section in time, the ball drops to the ground, so they have to start again.||Removed |
|207||Barrel (Barillet)||2006–2010||To reach the door of the safe containing the key, contestants are required to move through two partitions using a giant barrel. These partitions have the fingerprints of the barrel. Contestants must have the barrel and insert it into the wall. But the cylinder has three sets of rods. So it must be run each time to find the right position to move it into the wall. After passing through the two walls, the door is safe to be opened with the same barrel and the same technique as for partitions. If they can open the door, they can get the key and exit the cell, going back through the walls, but without the barrel.||Removed |
|217||Barrel Maze (Débarras)||1999–2004||The player must move a barrel from one end of a maze to the other where the key is locked in a vice. On the barrel is a tool which releases the key. The maze consists of 20 barrels, including one that cannot move, and these barrels must be moved so that the key can be freed.||Removed |
|Barrel Walk (Tonneau)||2002–2010||The contestant enters a cell decorated like a wine cellar. The key is at the bottom of the cell, hanging from the ceiling. To get it, the contestant must pass through the cell while walking on a barrel lying on the ground and keeping balance by using a rope attached to a ceiling track. If he or she loses control of the barrel, the contestant can drop from the rope and put the barrel in the right direction, but doing this means the rope will reset back to the beginning of the track. Obstacles on the ground include bottle caps and large ropes. Also, a metal curled wire runs across the cell, near the end of the track, to make the game more difficult. Contestants have sometimes injured themselves when jumping from the barrel to reach the key hanging above.||Removed |
|105||The Barrier (Mur)||2000–2001||Inside the room the key is locked in a perspex cube which is easily opened, but when it is tampered with a door comes down blocking the exit. To get out, the contestant has to remove the boxes which make up the barrier until there's a hole big enough to get out of.||Removed |
|211||Board (Planche)||2001–2002||The contestant has to walk along the board (similar to a surfboard) to the end and collect the key hanging from above.||Removed |
|101||Boiler Room (Menotte)||1996–2013||The contestant is handcuffed to a pipeline which runs around the cell. He or she has to guide the cuffs along the pipes, navigating through valves and so on which screw off, to the end where they can grab the key and exit the cell. In Ultimate Challenge, the player is not handcuffed to the pipeline; instead, they move the key which is attached to a chain through the pipe maze until they reach the exit.||Removed |
|113||Spider's Web (Toile d'araignee)||1996–2000||The contestant jumps into a revolving web made up of a series of bungee cords and must cross to the end to retrieve a tool. This device is then used to access the key halfway back along the bungee web. This last stage is the hardest because, as the web revolves, the player must release the key, which is going from below to above the player very quickly. As a consequence, some players have been locked in due to running out of time.||Removed |
|110||Buzz Off! (Secousse)||1998||The contestant has to carry a heavy machine that vibrates violently along the wire without touching it, just like in the classic game. Jaba the Pirate stands in the background trying his best to distract the player. If he or she successfully gets it to the end of the wire, the key is released.||Removed |
|214||Candy Roll (Cylinders)||1993–2017||The contestant must get across a series of variously sized rolling cylinders to get to the key. Also known as "Cylinders". In Ultimate Challenge the cylinders were painted to resemble pieces of candy, giving the challenge its UC name. Contestants fail more often than they succeed at this.||Removed|
|108||Capstan (Cabestan)||1994–2007||One test where the contestant faces the 'Strong Man'. In the cell is a capstan. Each of the two must push the bar in the same direction to another, which requires a real show of strength and force. The contestant must push the bar all the way to the catch, to retrieve the key that is in the axis of the capstan. On one occasion, the contestant was injured during the game and could not compete in the show further, with a key given as consolation.||Removed |
|102||Cargo Maze (Antre filet)||1992–1998||In the Fort's cell is a cargo net in a box shape. Inside here is another box and so on, with the key lying in the centre of the maze. The contestant has to find their way through the entrances of each layer until they get to the key. They must exit in the same way.||Removed |
|218||Coffee Grinder (Percolateur)||2012–||Before entering the cell, the contestant receives a pierced shovel grain. At the bottom of the cell is a coffee grinder. To make it work, the contestant must insert coffee beans in the container. The grains are in bags located on the other side of the room near the entrance. With the shovel, the contestant must take the grain to go pour into the machine whilst the floor below the machine is spinning violently to make the game more difficult. After at least five round trips, depending on the amount of grain brought into the machine. If the contestant manages to put enough grain in the machine, a green light will start flashing. It tells the contestant he/she should press the red button on the machine, so to pour the coffee into the cup. This action automatically pushes up the key in the pipe and makes it accessible.||Present|
|209||Cold Room (Chambre Froide)||2012–||The contestant must guide the padlock key (which opens the glass box with the real key/canister or code inside) along a pipeline underwater and through ice. In 2013, metal bars are added above the ice tank. The contestant is now obliged to enter the water to continue the progression of the key.||Present|
|120||Cushioned Cell (Cellule capitonnée)||2017||In this cell, the contestant is dressed in a straitjacket, and enters a room that spins, causing him to walk on the ceiling, in an attempt to put 4 balls that are on his straitjacket into 4 holes in the room before the key is released.||Removed|
|118||Crazy Billiards (Billiard)||2009–2010||The contestant enters the room and finds a pool cue. They must shoot a ball on a tilted billiards table into three targets on the opposite side, to release the key in a tube. The catch is that the cage and the holes are moving constantly||Removed |
|118||Dark Descent (Égout)||2011–||At the bottom of a long perspex tube (although shorter than in the previous game), that winds around the cell, is an area infested with rats and where the key/code can be found. The contestant climbs a ladder and enters the cell, which is in complete darkness, via its window. The contestant has to crawl down, locate the key amongst the rats, turn around and then climb back up the tube. In some versions, when the time limit expires, a lever is pulled blocking the exit from the cell (similar to the museum game). This test is a modern 'dark' version of Tube (Tuyau transparent), present on the fort between 1990 and 2010.||Present|
|109||The Neverending Rope (Bobine)||1998–2011||The player must climb a rope and guide the key through a maze, but the trouble is that the rope descends as the contestant tries to go up it. In 1998, the key was in one of four tubes suspended from the ceiling. The contestant had to unscrew the bottom of the tubes to access the key.||Removed |
|114||Dizzy Dash (Casino)||2013–||In this test, a slot machine saves tokens that can release the key enclosed in a balance. Upon entering the cell, the player sits on a chair and must operate the handle of the one-armed bandit. The chair begins to turn on itself very quickly for a few seconds. At the end of the rotation, the player obviously dazed and with the head still spinning, must walk on the beam and not fall. However must act quickly, because the chips are already falling from the machine. If player manages to reach the slot machine in time, they must collect as many chips as possible, with the container it has since its entry into the cell. When the bowl has some chips, the player must return to the seat side (back through the beam) and pay the balance in its collection. After obviously several trips and once there's enough chips in the balance, the rocker key is made available.||Present|
|120||Dolphin (Dauphin)||2000–2011||The player, secured to a rope, has to follow the rope through an obstacle course requiring them to climb over and under a series of bars to grab a key and return the same way. The rope has just enough slack to allow the contestant to move through the course, but, if the key is dropped, it can't be retrieved.||Removed |
|219||Excalibur||1991–||The mighty sword is stuck is a wooden stump. The contender has to pull the sword out, and then use the sword to cut a rope on which the key is attached. The cutting is actually the harder part, due to the relative bluntness of the sword, and it is at this point that people usually fail the game.||Present|
|105||The Fan (Soufflerie)||1995–1999||The two strongest contestants are sent into a room, at the end of which is a giant fan. They have to slot a perspex cover in front of it to stop the fan and release the key. As the fan is so loud the contestants are unable to hear anything; a red light goes on when there are 10 seconds left to get out.||Removed |
|Giant Catapults (Bascule(s) Magyare(s))||1996–2000,|
|In this simple yet rare challenge, the contestant must bounce cannonballs of various weights into differently sized barrels by jumping on a device similar to a seesaw. A similar game returned in the French 2010 duel format and in other duel versions.||Removed (2001),|
Present in foreign versions
|220||Giant Chopsticks (Baguettes)||2000–2014||The two contestants must transport a vase/bucket using two giant chopsticks through a course to the basket at the end, which is very difficult. If they drop the object, they must return to the start and try again. At the end of the course are two empty baskets; when both baskets are filled the key is released. Previously, three objects were needed in the baskets to win the key; this was later changed due to its difficulty and to make the game easier. Despite that, it has rarely been won in many versions of the show.||Removed |
|Giant Loom (Métier á tisser)||2001,|
|The contestant transports corn in a holey bucket from a barrel to a pair of scales. The corn must weigh down one side of the scales to lift the key which is on the other side. Inside the room are chickens. In later series, the chickens pen were replaced with having the contestant step through a giant loom, hence its Ultimate Challenge name. This game has been removed from the fort in 2013 and replaced by new game, Casino.||Removed |
|115||Hanging Tough (Étriers suspendus)||1990–2013||The contestant(s) must first climb to one of two strings hanging from the ceiling. These strings are found to have a bracket with a foot hole. The contestant must advance by using these two brackets by detaching the rope from a ceiling hook and putting into the next hook (and so on) to get to the end of the course and collect the key. To save time, it is advisable that the contestant(s) leaves their feet in the stirrups. This game is also played as a duel with two tracks on the ceiling.||Removed |
|206||Haunted House (Manoir)||2013–||In this cell plunged into darkness, spirits have taken up residence and the player is going to meet them. The principle is simple, the player has to find two small pieces of metal (hexagonal) in the mansion. These rooms each have a piece of code to the lock of the safe containing the cartridge. But it is possible that some pieces of metal has no figures to complicate the task, strange phenomena will trap the player and scare them: a drawer that opens and closes by itself, a skeleton who wakes up, fire explodes, a chandelier that moves, closets trapped air currents and many other surprises. When the player manages to find a piece of metal, they shout the numbers written above to the rest of the team outside. When the second part of the code is known, the team will open the lock and retrieve the key/cartridge.||Present|
|110||Infernal Ladder (Échelle infernale)||1993–2015||The contender has to hook the metal bars into slots in the wall and ceiling to climb the overhang and reach the key. However, there are only two bars at the bottom, with another two hanging down, so the bars have to be re-used. This game was not visible in France from 2012. The cell 110 is occupied by the authority allowing operation of high-tech tests (Interactive Cell, Visual Enigma etc.). This game is also played as a duel with two tracks.||Removed (2016)|
|112||Interactive Cell (Cellule Interactive)||2011–2013||The contestant enters a room to participate in a touch-screen-based computerised challenge introduced by a new resident of the fort, Luciole. These challenges vary from mazes to memory puzzles.||Removed |
|The Library (Colonne du libraire)|
|When the player enters the room, the door is automatically locked. The only way out is to get the key. Fake books must be piled up, allowing the contestant to reach a lever to release the key and open the door again. This challenge was only featured on the show for a brief period due to the difficulty, but mostly because contestants often tried to stand on an unstable table for height, which was dangerous. This game returned to the fort in 2013 and was located in a new cell.||Removed (2001, 2016)|
|The Magician (Bonneteau)||1990–2013||The contestant(s) faces the 'Magician of the Fort' in a simple but difficult game. A small key is under one of three cups he has available on the table, he turns and moves the cups with his talents as a manipulator. The contestant must find what cup the key is inside. There are three small keys in total, each key opens a padlock. When the three locks are open, the real key can be collected.||Removed |
|106||Mission Impossible (Ventouse (Vacuum))|
|The contestant climbs a ladder and enters the cell (a museum) via its window. Inside are a number of obstacles, such as ladders and nets, which the contestant must climb over to get to the key. If the floor is touched an alarm goes off; the contestant automatically loses and is taken away to the cages. The key is in a locked cylinder which is opened using a tool (either a suction cup or a magnet, since 2010) given to the contestant at the beginning. The contestant must leave out the window, still not touching the floor. Some players have dropped the key or the tool or even knocked pieces of the scenery loose, resulting in a lock-in.||Present|
|211B||Mousetrap (Souricière)||2001–2005||Two candidates enter the cell, a man and a woman usually. They are left with a mousetrap. The one contestant sits in the cage of the trap while the other will raise the cage using arm strength. To raise the cage, the contestant must remove a plug on one side of the trap so that his/her teammate can elevate the cage up a notch. To lock the cage, he or she only has to insert the plug into the new hole. This is than repeated on the other side of the cage. By doing this, the cage will rise gradually. Once at the top of the mousetrap, the contestant can pass their hand through the cage (which contains rats/mice in some versions) to unhook the key. To exit, he or she can exit through a door at the top with some help. But if the cage is not brought to the top before the end of the hourglass, the contestant can not exit and will remain a prisoner inside the mousetrap.||Removed |
|117||Mr. Tchan||2007–2009||Mr. Tchan replaced the Monkey Bridge in 2007. Mr. Tchan chooses someone to be a "sacrifice". Mr. Tchan will then show a tangram puzzle which another chosen team member must replicate in a box full of creatures. About halfway through the challenge, Mr. Tchan will give a hint. When the time runs out, Mr. Tchan does a jump and the sacrifice becomes a prisoner. It has only had 2 wins out of 20, with no teams winning in 2008. He returned in 2009 with a new style of game, involving completing a pattern while the template rotates. 2 teams won in 2009, making the running total 4 wins out of 30.||Removed |
|208 (1990–99, 2011–)|
|Mud Wrestler (Lutte dans la boue)||1990–2006,|
|A male or female contestant takes on a strong woman or man, who wrestles her in the mud. The contestant must reach the key, which hangs from the ceiling at the other end of the room. The role has been played by many over the years. In addition, the strong woman (or strong man) plays another game called Cotons-tiges (Joust) which also returned in 2011 and is similar to the "Duel" event seen on Gladiators.||Present|
|102||Water Carrier (Porteur d'eau)||1999–2005||The contestant has to fill up a long tube with green neon water which lies just by the cell's entrance. They must then carry the water through an obstacle course and fill up three cylinders with the luminous liquid. The player has to cover up both ends of the tube so that little water is lost.||Removed |
|215B||Net-Ball (Filet-boulet)||2004–2010||A net inclined at 45° occupies substantially the entire length of the cell. Upon entering, the contestant grasps a ball under the net he or she will have to bring up this thread evolving on it, passing the arms through to hold the ball and advance it. If the contestant drops the ball, it will return to the starting point and will have to start again. At the top, he or she passes the ball into a hole, then it will roll down the path and release the key near the exit. In some years, the key was required to exit the cell.||Removed |
|209||Planetarium (Planétarium)||2006–2009||The contestant enters the cell via a corridor down to recover from his head in his hands and into the openings of a large circular plate in permanent rotation. On this plateau, several balls of different colours and sizes. The contestant must return one of the balls (red) which is smaller than the others, into the hole provided for this purpose, by tilting the pan in all directions. If the contestant succeeds, the fall of the red ball triggers a system and the key is released near the exit door of the cell.||Removed |
|211||Pole Position (Perches)||2005–2014||A male and two female contestants enter the room. On the ceiling are the numbers 1–9 with poles attached to them. The contestants must climb the poles to find the red buttons near the correct 3 numbers. Then they must all push the buttons in unison to fry the string holding the key in a box near the entrance. This game is still on the fort but was not played during the 2011 French series.||Removed |
|Pots of Fear (Jarres)||1990–2017||There is a long row of large jars in one of the Fort's cells. The contestant has to feel inside each jar, which contains things such as worms and rats, until the key is found.||Removed (2018)|
|207||Powder Keg (Baril de poudre)||1992–1995,|
|In this test is a cell with a bass drum, a contestant must get on it standing to reach a transparent maze hung up high, in which lies the key inside. To successfully recover the key, he/she must move it toward the exit of this maze using the two long hooks provided. But to destabilise the contestant, boxes explode in the cell around them. When 10 seconds remain, the bass drum the contestant is standing on explodes, quickly prompting them to exit the cell. From 1992 to 1995, it was a puzzle with iron rods entwined in one another.||Removed |
|Power Pedal (Manolier)||2000–2015||The contestant has to pedal a handbike overhead across the cell to push the key along. The key is only accessed if the handbike reaches the end and the key falls to the floor.||Removed |
|221||Power Pull (Pierres extérieures)||1990–||Hanging at the bottom of a rope out the cell window are some weights, and the key. The contestant has to pull on the rope until the rope locks into the pulley. Then the contestant must climb out of the window into a cage on the side of the Fort, and reach out for the key.||Present in foreign versions|
|Ground floor||Pressure Tank (Entraînement sous-marin)||2013–||The contestant is in a vertical plexiglas cabin. Start at the top, player must open one of eight tubes coming out the sides of the cabin, with the aim of opening the nut who has the corresponding colour. In opening tool first pipe, it is a new tool for a new colour and must try again by opening the pipe that fits this colour. Player must repeat the process until it finds a new tool. In the last tip, it will fall on the plate containing the 4-digit code, it will show the team to open the lock of the safe containing the key/cartridge. To complicate the task, the cabin fills with water throughout and eels can get out from opening some pipes to come swim around. In case of panic on this part, the team has a button they can trigger to stop. This action will clear the cabin of water in a few seconds, but the test will be lost.||Present in foreign versions|
|Punch Ball (Ring)||2007–2016||The contestant is equipped with boxing gloves. The contestant then enters the cell and mounts a small boxing ring, which is equipped with a treadmill. The contestant must hit a punching bag, to hit the target behind and must keep up with the treadmill. With the more punches the target receives, the key will come down lower and lower until it's released and can be collected. The contestant must be careful not to get hit in his face by the punching bag.||Removed (2017)|
|221||Pyramid (Sacs)||2007–2015||In the centre of the cell is a pole placed on a pyramid base. The pyramid is filled with weighted bags connected to the pole, which also lies the key underneath them. To remove the key, the contestant has to climb the pyramid and remove each bag one at a time in order. The key is also attached to the pole.||Removed |
|Red Alert (Topkapi/Alerte rouge)||1990–93,|
|The contestant has to traverse a corridor of red wires without touching them to retrieve a key at the end. The key is located on a stand protected by glass box, which lowers each time a wire is touched. If the wires are triggered, the key becomes more and more inaccessible and, ultimately, can cause the player to be locked in (a gate at the entrance will shut if the wires are triggered five times or more). Once the contestant has the key, they can exit the cell via a different corridor running alongside (marked "Exit"). However, in 2013, the corridor was removed and the contestant will now have to go back the way they came once they retrieve the key. This test is a modern version of Topkapi, present on the fort between 1990 and 1993.||Removed (2017)|
|Rock The Boat (Pied marin)||1997,|
|This challenge manifested itself in two incarnations. In 2011, it consisted of a contestant having to guide a container containing the key along a rope through obstacles in a violently shaking room; in 1997 and 2012, however, the contestant must instead search for the key in the cabin.||Removed (1998, 2016)|
|(Horloge de la chapelle)|
Rocket Launcher (De la Terre à la Lune)
|In the cell, the player is on the bottom of an inclined track on which a roller shell is located. At the other end, on the top, is a pendulum movement. It is on this clock is the key. Before it can be recovered, the player must launch the shell up the pendulum. But the shell is very heavy and there is a relatively small area for momentum. In addition, the clock is always moving, so you launch the projectile at the right moment. Hit the nose of the shell to the hole in the clock, the key is then released and falls down near the player who can retrieve it and exit the cell.||Removed (1996, 2018)|
|119||Round The World (Balles de coton)||2003–2014||A cargo net in the centre of the room is filled with bales marked with cities and other destinations and a box containing a slip of paper naming a destination. The contestant must go to the bottom of the cargo net, find the sheet of paper, and then find the corresponding cotton bale which may contain either another destination or the key. However, once the contestant enters the room, a gate locks shut behind them that can only be unlocked with the key; if the contestant does not acquire the key and exit the cell within the time limit, they are automatically locked in. The challenge was done with the rules of the red hourglass in French 2003 version (beyond the time of the hourglass, the contestant is not a prisoner but time is deducted from the overall timer).||Removed |
|213||Running Water (Tapis roulant)|
|1995–||Above a treadmill, hanging on the ceiling, are a series of buckets containing water. The contestant has to jog on the treadmill, lift down the buckets and pour the water into a tube. This tube leads into another, so that the key is pushed upwards by the water.||Present|
|206||Sand Boxes (Taupe)||1999–2003||A contestant enters a chamber that is full of sand, with wooden bars blocking the way. The contestant must slide under holes in the bottom of the bars. The contestant must then use boxes (also pushed under the holes) to reach the key. In the later series with Jodie Penfold, the rooms included snakes and spiders with the sand.||Removed |
|Saw (Scie)||1999–2000||Two male contestants enter the cell. The key here is locked into a timber block that they will have to cut, using a 2-way saw provided, to release the key. The saw is suspended from the ceiling and is weighed down by two 40 kilo counterweights, which makes handling it very difficult. They must push/ride the saw into the timber in a "see-saw" like motion to cut the timber successfully.||Removed |
|203||Shrinking Room (Cellule qui rétrécit)||1992–2014||On the ceiling of the room are many keys. The contestant has to use these keys to try to open a wooden box which has three locks on it. Each lock requires a different key. The drawback is that the ceiling is continually lowering. This game is rarely completed as the players often forget to try each key for each lock, or lose concentration due to fear of the shrinking room. As of 2011, this game is played for a clue and also features a large snake and a smaller number of keys, but the keys have to be guided along tracks running on the ceiling to free them.||Removed |
|114||Sliding Wall (Mur glissant)||1990–1997,|
|The contestant has to simply slide down or climb up the wall, collect the key, and climb back up, using the hand/foot grips or side wall, or slide down to exit the cell. This game is very difficult and usually resulted in a lock-in. The test was done with the rules of the red hourglass in the French 2003 version (beyond the time of the hourglass, the contestant is not a prisoner but time is deducted from the overall game time).||Removed |
|206||Slot Machine (Tord-boyaux)||2008–2012||In the room is a spinning, square-shaped tube on the right mechanism on the left. The contestant must go through the tube, pick up the plates, go back through the tube, and slide them through the mechanism which causes plates on the other end of the tube to come out. This must be repeated until the key is found. A similar game called Drawers was present on the fort between 2000 and 2002. The current version was removed in 2013 and replaced by a new game, the Haunted Manor.||Removed |
|207||Spin Cycle (Laverie)||2013–||Two contestants enter the cell and place themselves in a giant drum 'washing machine'. They run in the drum, like a hamster on a wheel, so water can fill a nearby tube which contains the key. Foam and water sometimes pours into the drum. Obviously if the running stops, the water does too. They need to run fast enough so that the water flows continuously and the key has time to rise to the top.||Present|
|Sucking Key (Mange-fil)||2001–2010||The key is attached to a string inside a narrow chamber. A contestant is locked into stocks, and must use only his or her head to pull the key through the chamber and into a tunnel, where the other contestants collect it. The chamber is full of creatures such as scorpions, spiders, maggots and millipedes. If they fail to get the key, they therefore cannot be released and then become a prisoner.||Removed |
|112||Swaying Rock Wall (Mal de mur)||2009–2010||The key is rotating on a fan on the ceiling of the room. Against the wall is a wedge-shaped rock wall that the contestant must climb. The catch is that the rock wall sways freely and if the contestant loses his or her balance, the wall will fall to one side, usually knocking the contestant off and requiring him or her to start again.||Removed |
|Second floor||Tight Rope (Pont de singe)||1992–2005,|
|Strung high across the Fort are two ropes, one higher than the other. The contender must walk across the bottom rope, whilst holding onto the top one. At the other end they find a key, which they must then take back across the commando ropes so that their team can open the box which holds the clue word. From 2006, this challenge can use the format of a duel. A contestant competes against a gymnast (only in 2006), and must move along a rope bridge, grab a sack with a key attached, and move back along the bridge. Then, using the key, the contestant must unlock a box and retrieve a code before the gymnast destroys it. The code will enable the team to retrieve the key. This game is also played as a duel in Ultimate Challenge and other versions.||Present in foreign versions|
|Terror Walk (Précipice extérieur)||1995–||The contestant climbs through the cell window where, on the outside wall of the Fort, there is a row of very thin ledges. The player has to climb along these to the next window, grab the key, and shuffle back again. This game is also played as a duel in Ultimate Challenge and only present in the foreign versions.||Present in foreign versions|
|Thief (Voleur de clé)||1990–2000||The contestant is placed on one side of the table, on the other side there is the 'Fort Wizard'. On the table there is a white circle drawn and two handprints. The contestant must place his hands on the prints, while the magician places the key on the circle. But the key is hanging on a ribbon held by the magician. The contestant should therefore try to catch the key before the magician pulls. There are two locations on the table that the Wizard uses randomly during the test. When the contestant gets the key, they can exit the cell.||Removed |
|Ground floor||Tiger Fishing (Chambrière)||2009–||The contestant is given a fishing pole and must climb atop a cage of tigers and hook a key, pull it out of the holder, and retrieve it. The game is still played against the clepsdyre and the contestant can be locked in the cage. Unfortunately, the key may fall into the tiger cage and be irretrievable. Since 2012, it is present in the foreign versions only, but not Ultimate Challenge for safety reasons.||Present in some foreign versions|
|111||Torture Room (Salle des tortures)||1990–1994,|
|The contestant has to traverse a seriesof ropes, rings, bars, and ladders attached to the ceiling to reach the key. As of 2015, however, when the contestant enters the room, a gate locks shut behind them that can only be unlocked with the key; if the contestant does not acquire the key and exit the cell within the time limit, they are automatically locked in.||Removed (1995, 2017)|
|Trapdoor (Bizutage)||1994–2016||In the cell, the female contestant has to climb onto the male contestant's back and grab the baton which hangs from the ceiling. Then, using this tool, she must bang the white latches on the ceiling boxes to open them. There are various things in each box, such as flour and gunge, but from one box a key falls. Also played as a duel.||Removed (2017)|
|224||Tube (Tuyau transparent)||1990–2010||At the top of a long perspex tube that winds up to the ceiling is the key. The contestant has to crawl up, grab the key and then slide back down. It has been adapted for the Ultimate Challenge and the 2011 French version, among others, as Dark Descent (Egout).||Removed |
|107||Turnstile (Tourniquet)||1998–2012||The contestant has to unscrew a panel to get to the key, whilst avoiding the revolving paddles of the turnstile. In 1998–99 there was also a metal grid, which meant the contestant had to run forwards, but that was changed in 2000 for safety reasons. The turnstile was removed in 2013 and the cell was taken by The Library, which has returned after a 12-year absence.||Removed |
|211||Unstable Table (Table instable)||2000||One contestant lies atop a plastic "hammock" and has to balance while the other team member turns a crank to raise the hammock. Once the hammock is high enough, the person on the hammock can reach the key when a lever is pulled by the one turning the crank.||Removed |
|Wall Walk (Corniche)||1990–1994,|
|This test is probably one of the games that has generated the most prisoners, due to its extreme difficulty. A wall stands the length of the cell. On this wall is a ledge halfway up to about 2 cm wide. The contestant must move forward on this ledge, using the ceiling to help them, to retrieve the key that is at the end of it. Once the key is recovered, he or she must come back the same way, taking care not to fall from the ledge and risk getting locked in. If the contestant falls from the ledge it is near impossible to exit the cell. In 1998, a variation of the game was made so the contestant could easily exit the cell. A two player version was also created in 2005, but removed in 2006 when the original game returned in the same cell (112).||Removed |
(1995, 1999, 2009)
- New Games for 2011
- Visual Enigma (cell 112)
- New Games for 2012
- Gagarin (cell 109) – A similar game, also using a gyroscope, was present on the fort between 1995 and 1997.
- Anvil (outside, between the fort and the platform)
- Balance (outside, between the fort and the platform)
- New Games for 2013
- Cuisine de Willy (cell 215A) – First time this cell has been used since 1991. A new character, an Italian Chef, played by Willy Rovelli (a contestant in 2012) appears in the fort's kitchen. This cell is not used in international versions and is covered up.
- Père Fouras Show (cell 215B) – Replaced the Code Braille in French version, known as Creature Code in Ultimate Challenge. In the international versions, Creature Code is still present on the fort.
Note: Some clue games are also played as key games and vice versa.
Once again in this part of the game the contestants have to complete a series of challenges, but instead of playing for keys they are playing for clue words. In addition, these games are more physically and mentally challenging to the contestants than those played in Phase One. Before these challenges, one contestant goes to the Watch Tower to try to win a clue word. Phase Two is around 10–20 minutes long in the UK version, this depends on how long the team take to win the required number of keys needed to open the Treasure Room gate.
The objective in this phase is to try to figure out the password, which, if answered correctly, will release the gold. To do this, they must try to win clue words to help them in working out the password.
These clue words can be placed either before or after the password to make a common phrase. For example: if the clues words were hall and line then the password would be dance, as in dance hall and line dance.
To make it even more difficult to get the clue word, a time limit (3 minutes usually; occasionally between 2:00–3:30 minutes) is placed on each game. The clue words are usually written on pieces of paper and kept in canisters filled with gunpowder, and if the contestant fails to reach the canister in the allotted time the clue word explodes and the contestant loses the challenge. Unlike the First Phase, players are not locked in a cage if they fail to win the clue word.
Phase Two challenges
From 1991 to 2011, there were 71 different adventures. This section details some of Fort Boyard's most famous games. The name of the game may change from country-country; but the game itself remains the same (like in Phase One, where possible, names from Ultimate Challenge will be used). The years below are for when the game was played or last present at the fort, in the French version or Ultimate Challenge.
Examples of the clue games, also known as "ordeals" or "adventures", are:
|List of selected games|
|Name (in France)||Year(s)||Information||Status|
|Balloon Breaker (Rocket-man)||2006–||A contestant is harnessed to the inner walls of the fort. The rest of the team must pull the rope attached to the contestant all the way down to the ground and release it sending the one in the harness flying upwards. Meanwhile, they have to break a balloon containing the number code using a stick given before the challenge. This number code must be used to unlock the box containing the clue scroll.||Present|
|The Catapult (Catapulte)||1995–2004,|
|In the centre of the Fort sits the contestant, attached to bungee cords. Another member of the team stands with an axe, while the rest of the team turns a wheel which takes the strain of the bungee. The person with the axe then has to cut the rope, which catapults the contestant up into the air. The contestant has to look out for the clue word, which is written on a large blackboard somewhere on the top of the Fort. Since 2003, instead of a clue word, the contestant has to look out for a 4 digit code, which is written on a large blackboard somewhere on the top of the Fort. The team then have to unlock a box with the code to get the clue canister. This game was replaced with Balloon Breaker in 2006. The game returned in the 2012 Halloween Special. The game is similar, but the contestant is launched by a detonator pressed by another member of the team.||Removed (2014)|
|Two parallel cables are strung above the 'Treasure Room' at the same location as the Tight Rope game. The contestant(s) are roped and use boards to transport themselves to the centre to reach the suspended key or canister hanging from above. In the duel format, the contestant(s) must then return to their platform, unscrew the canister using a tool and read out the code for the key box.||Present in foreign versions|
|Chain Pulley (Surplomb)||1996–1999||The contestant moves along a traverse using a chain pulley. In turn they reach three keys, which they must collect. Every time they take a key, one of the chains holding them up collapses, so that by the end they are hanging vertically. Once at the end of the traverse, they have to open a box with one of the keys, and get the clue.||Removed (2000)|
|Clockwork (Culbuto)||2000||The contestant is strapped into a frame which is attached to a giant clockwork mechanism. When they squeeze the top of the frame, it spins around, and traverses downwards. The contestant has to spin down to a key, pick it up and throw it down to their team mates who open a safe which contains the clue word.||Removed (2000)|
|The Darkness (Labyrinthe obscur)||1991–2001||The player must go through a series of chambers, which are in complete darkness, and follow a string and the other players' directions (with the use of a map) to reach the end. Along the way, the contestant goes through some water, coal, a skeleton, and such features to eventually meet a room filled with light by a flame held by a naked person of the gender opposite to the player. The clue is written somewhere on the person's body, but some players miss the word due to the multiple tattoo-like prints also on the body. Although the genitals were never in view, when Fort Boyard was aired before the watershed, the topless woman's breasts would sometimes be blurred.||Removed |
|The chosen contestant climbs up two parallel ropes to reach the clue.||Present in foreign versions|
|Fireman's Climb (Balancier)||1999–2002||In this game the contestant has to traverse the overhead ladder to reach the key or cartridge which is at the other end. As they get further out, their weight pulls the ladder down. The game was last played in the French version in 2002, however the equipment was still on the fort until 2007 before being used for a new game from 2008 to 2010, Beam on the sea (Poutre à la mer).||Removed (2008)|
|The Hammock (Hamac)||2004||The chosen contestant attempts to climb down a hammock to reach the clue, but climbing down the hammock destabilises it and causes it to twist and swing even further. This challenge appeared only once.||Removed |
|Human Bell (Cloche)||1999–||One person is strapped into the Fort's giant swing, which is hung at a right angle to the inside Fort wall. The rest of the team pulls on a heavy rope, which moves the swing back and forth. The clue is hanging so that the swing must be horizontal in order for the contestant to grab it. The person in the swing seat has no control, so even if they want to stop, they can't unless their team lets them.||Present|
|Human Catapult (Saut intérieur)||1991–||The contestant stands at the top of the Fort, looking down into the centre. He or she must then jump off the platform, and grab the canister which contains the clue while bouncing back up again. Some contestants failed to pluck the courage to make the jump, in which case, the clue is automatically lost.||Present|
|Ladder Race (Échelle spéléo)||1994–||This game is suspended from the bridge of the Human Catapult game (see below). The contestant has to climb up a thin metal ladder to get the cartridge or key hanging from above. His or her team will help to achieve this, by holding the ladder down (which starts at 2 metres 50 off the ground), which is too flexible and mobile to climb alone. The game can also be played as a duel and has featured in many versions.||Present in foreign versions|
|Leap of Faith (Saut de l'Ange)||1996–||The contestant has to do a bungee jump off the side of the Fort. After jumping, while hanging upside down, the player has to climb partway up the rope and undo the canister which contains the clue word. Cowardice will automatically cost the clue.||Present|
|Ocean Plunge (Tyrolienne)||1991–||Two contestants, one male and one female, zip-line down from the top of the Fort's bastions into the sea. One of them, usually the female, then swims to the pontoon, whilst the other has to swim over to a buoy, where he dives down deep to reach the lobster pot. Once he has it, he swims over to the pontoon where the second contestant opens the lobster pot, takes out a key and opens a box which contains the clue word. Once they have it they shout it out to their team using a megaphone. There have been a few variations to this, where the second player swims to a boat as opposed to the lobster pot. Once there, one of the pair needs to climb a ladder to reach the numbers for the other person to shout back to their team for the clue. An alternate version of this, named Raging Sea, is also played. |
In 2012, a new version came out, replacing the old one. This time, One contestant sits on a board facing up and one contestant is next to a buoy containing a locked wallet with the code. When the board drops, the contestant goes down the zip-line and throws the key to the other contestant.
In 2017, a new version, called "T.N.T." came out, replacing the previous one. In this case, the contestant sits on the board like in the previous version, but he holds a smoke bomb in his hands. When the board drops, he has to throw the smoke bomb in a barrel on a raft for it to explode and the cartridge containing the clue to be released.
|Poles Apart (Ascension du poteau)||2003–2010,|
|A wooden pole is outside the Fort, above the sea, starting at cell 119 up to the terrace. The contestant must climb the pole to retrieve the canister/key at the top of it. Team members located at the cell window 219 or the terrace throw down small blocks, which the climber uses to move up the pole to reach the top. If the team run out of blocks, the climber is unable to reach the top and can not collect the canister or key. This game can also be played as a duel with two poles.||Removed|
|Rapid Ascent (Varappe)||1991–||The contestant(s) must climb up the side of the fort using only the rocks on the wall face. It is usually very windy and very difficult. This game can also be played as a duel.||Present in foreign versions|
|Sailing (Esquif)||1997–2006||The contestant finds himself in a skiff (a kind of kayak) on the stairs outside the Fort. The rope drops, he descends the stairs and enters into the sea where there are three baskets. Once collected and attached to the rope, his teammates pull them back in. The team can then open the safe containing the clue, using the three small keys found inside the baskets. The keys are the same, but only one key works in each lock of the safe.||Removed |
|The Searching Head (Tête chercheuse)||1996–||The contestant moves along through a series of small chambers, with only the head exposed. In each chamber is a word which the player has to shout out to the team, who cross it off a list of similar words. The one left is the clue word. Each chamber is filled with a number of creatures to scare the player, which are in order: frogs, stick-insects, rats, cockroaches, and flies.||Present|
|Sky Bike (Cablocypède)||1998–||Cycling along on the upside-down bicycle, the contestant comes to three rolled up flags. When unrolled each displays a letter, which the rest of the team must key into a combination lock to open a safe and gain the clue.||Present|
|Snake Pit (Serpents)||1991–||A contestant is lowered into the snake pit, via a ladder. The clue word is split in two, each half being written on a snake. The contestant must find the two-halves to make a whole, and to do so they have to pick up each snake and check its belly to see if one of the two-halves of the clue is on it. There are hundreds of them, but the clue is always written on the big ones, one half usually being in a barrel and the other half in one of the small cupboards at the side of the pit. Cowardice will forfeit the clue.||Present|
|Spiders and Scorpions (Araignées et scorpions)||1991–||A contestant enters a room filled with tarantulas and scorpions in a chest. Three of the arachnids hold slips of paper, but only one of them has a clue word on it. In 2011, during the French version, the game was replaced by Stretcher. In 2015, the game returned to the French version as the Doll House (Maison des poupées). However, in the international versions, Abandoned Cabin is replaced with the original Spiders and Scorpions design (now located in a smaller cell nearby). Both Stretcher and Spiders and Scorpions are played in some versions.||Present|
|Sunken House/Underwater Dome||1991–2013||The contestant climbs down a hole into a series of flooded cellars. He or she exits the first two chambers underwater, and then climbs a ladder and crawls along a low corridor, on the floor of which is a word written in sand. This word is washed away by a torrent of water after a few seconds. The contestant climbs down another ladder into another chamber, where underwater are a series of boxes. One box has the sand word on it, and in here is the clue. The player then has to swim out via an underwater corridor. From the fourth series (2001), the contestant instead has to guide a spanner tied to a chain/illuminated cable through obstacles in the flooded cellars to a bolted cylinder, which the player must open to reach the clue.||Removed (2014)|
|Tiger Buggy (Cage aux tigres)||1997–||The contestant is sat in a buggy which they have to pedal round the Treasure Room. On the floor are two keys, which they need to collect to open a small box inside the buggy which contains the clue word. In series 3, the contestant now has to collect just one canister which contains the code to a safe, which the rest of the team opens to gain the clue. Three versions of the game have been used: 1997, 1998–2013 and from 2014 as Safari||Present|
|Tight Rope (Funambule)||1997–||The contestant has to walk from one end of the tightrope to the other where the clue hangs in a canister.||Present in foreign versions|
- New Games for 2011
- Stretcher (cell 212) – replaces Spiders and Scorpions
- Abandoned Cabin (cell 218 (2011), 216 (2012–)) – French Exclusive
- Immersed Cell
- Cell RecRec – previously Shrinking Cell
- Tanks (cell 209) – replaced by Cold Room in 2012
- Sewage (cell 118) – called Dark Descent in Ultimate Challenge
- Creature Count/Code (cell 215B) – called lotto in the French version
- New Games for 2013
- Circle (outdoors, above courtyard) – Ring Run in Ultimate Challenge
- Submarine Training (outdoor, ground floor patio) – Pressure Tank in Ultimate Challenge
- Umbrellas (outdoors, above courtyard) – Balancing Brollies in Ultimate Challenge
- Vélibérateur (indoor basement, tank flooded) – Pedal Pump in Ultimate Challenge
- Hammocks (cell 115) (Duel)
- Underwater Balloons (Duel)
- Deadly Drop (Duel)
Note: Some of these games are still in place on the fort, but have not been played recently in the French version and others. Most of these games are listed by their Ultimate Challenge names. Not all of the clue games played have been mentioned above.
The Watch Tower
In the Watch Tower of the Fort lives a usually eccentric character that sets riddles for certain contestants; if the contestants give the correct answer within the time limit, they receive a key. In the case of the clue riddles, the answer to the riddle is the clue word, so even if the contestant doesn't solve it in the Watch Tower he or she can still think about it during the rest of the game. During the riddles, the contestant can keep guessing until the time (indicated by Jack or Jules holding up a sand timer) has elapsed. If the contestant fails to guess the correct answer within the time limit, the key is "thrown" into the sea, and another contestant has to swim for it. This was always won as the strongest swimmer would retrieve the key. The swim was removed in series 5 of the UK version, but was re-introduced in Ultimate Challenge as Key to the Sea (without the Watch Tower riddle).
Since 2006, the contestants can no longer swim for the key; it is just put back where it was held. The clue word is also different and is not the same as the riddle. Therefore, the riddle must be solved within the time limit to obtain the clue.
In the French version from 2011 to 2013, The Watch Tower wasn't used; instead, there were three trips to the Interactive Cell. The second trip was a Visual Riddle, about halfway through the key games, with Father Fouras on screen. The Clue Riddle is replaced by a telephone riddle where the player is in a booth inside one of the cells and has 1 minute to solve the riddle, given by Father Fouras over the phone, whilst cockroaches are dropped on top of them. This takes form of a game, called Abandoned Cabin, in the French version. The Watch Tower was however used in the 2012 Russian version of the show (the only country to use it that year) and in 2013 for the Azerbaijan, Canadian and Swedish versions.
The Treasure Room
The Treasure Room (or Treasure Chamber in Ultimate Challenge) is the climax to each episode of Fort Boyard. The gold is stored here, which is guarded by Boyard's tigers (except in Ultimate Challenge until 2013).
Once the Fort's gong sounds for a second time, the game time is over. When the gong is struck (by La Boule) the tigers are taken away by Monique, the gate to the Treasure Room rises and will only stay open for 2:00 minutes in UK series 1 to 4, the time stated did not include the 20 seconds before the gate started to rise or 3:00 minutes in UK series 5. The 3 minutes includes 20 seconds before the gate started to rise (to open canisters/organise team). The gate takes 30 seconds to open and close fully for every version of Fort Boyard worldwide.
The French version have extra games which are played to win extra time in the treasure room. Four or six members of the team play a game each against the "Master of Time", if they win they will be get extra time in the treasure room, making it a full 4 minutes. The starting time is 3:00 as normal, but the team must bet on the duels with this time. In 2012, the duels against the "Master of Darkness" could reduce the team's time to 2:15 (2:00 in 2011) and give them a maximum time of 3:45 (4:00 in 2011).
If by this time the team has still not figured out the password from the clues won, they can "sacrifice" players in exchange for extra clues to help them. The sacrificed players have to reach the clue by putting their hand into one of the tiger-shaped hand traps around the Treasure Room entrance; once their hands are inside they cannot release them and participate in collecting the gold.
The contestants now have to spell out the password on the giant alphabet on the floor of the treasure room by standing on the corresponding letters on the grid and using cannonballs if there are not enough players. The team must also ensure the word is spelled correctly, as a mistake could cost them the prize.
Once this is done, Monique rotates the tiger's head (a statue), and the word will either be declared correct or incorrect, and the gold is released if the word is correct.
Then the contestants have the remaining time to collect as much gold as they can and place it in a bucket outside of the treasure room. It is only what is in this bucket that they get to keep; any that lands on the floor is not counted. When the time is nearly up in the treasure room, a bell rings, and the gate begins to close slowly. The contestants have to leave before the gate shuts completely because when the door shuts the tigers are released back into the treasure room. (the release of the tigers is delayed until the contestants are out of the treasure room, a portcullis is pulled in some versions to block the tigers from being released). In the 1990 French version, and in the 2006 Russian version of the show, contestants were "locked" in the treasure room. On both occasions, the gold collected was lost as a result.
If, however, they declare an incorrect word, the gold is not released and instead the gate to the treasure room begins to close immediately, prompting the contestants to make a quick escape, and they complete the game with no winnings.
The won gold is then weighed and converted into currency; this makes the contestants' prize money. In most countries, the money won by the team is given to a charity.
Some countries, including Spain, Argentina, the UK, and Belgium, give the money directly to the members of the team. Some give vacations instead of money, dependent on how much the team won.
In France, between 1990 and 1992, the treasure was given to the team, but since 1993, the whole prize goes to charity. Then again in 2010, the prize money was given to the contestants.
Summary of the UK rules
|Series||Year(s)||Number of Keys
|Game Play||Treasure Room
|Missing Keys||Extra Clues||Notes|
(1 free key
|40 minutes||2:00 minutes||Dungeon
(1 person per
(Tigers head outside
|arrival on boat|
|2||1999–2000||arrival on boat +|
open gate to enter Fort (before the gong)
|4||2001||arrival onboard helicopter|
|5||2003||5 (no free key)||3:00 minutes||arrival on boat|
Note: Opening titles shown the original series (1–3) boat, and did not actually show the 2003 remake series arriving outside the Fort.
In total, 57 episodes were shown in the original Channel 5 series; including four celebrity specials and a special edition with contestants from the first UK series of The Mole.
On 1 July 2014, Challenge announced on social media that they had re-acquired all the Channel 5 years of the show (previously repeated by the channel from 2002 to 2006) and would begin airing series 1–2 in August that year, with series 3 and 4 following in 2015. Series 1 started on 4 August at 5 pm, followed by series 2 on 18 August 2014. Series 3 starts on 7 May 2015 at 6 pm.
|Series||Start date||End date||Episodes|
|1||16 October 1998||25 December 1998||10|
|2||19 November 1999||18 February 2000||14|
|3||3 November 2000||18 August 2001||16|
|4||22 September 2001||22 December 2001||13|
|5||20 October 2003||3 December 2003||20|
|26 December 1999|
|5 January 2001|
|25 August 2001|
|29 December 2001|
Takes on the World
|Series||Start date||End date||Episodes|
|1||18 October 2004||29 October 2004||10|
From a broadcasting perspective, Fort Boyard itself was refurbished during 1988–89 to become, essentially, a large outdoor television studio. The Fort has its own doctor, catering facilities, as well as production gallery and veterinary centre.
The Fort is equipped with 10 portable television cameras, one camera crane for overhead shots, one under-water camera as well as a number of smaller cameras which specifically cover individual games and challenges around the Fort.
The majority of shows are filmed in the 4:3 aspect ratio, although some shows, for countries including Sweden and France since 2008, now use the more common 16:9 widescreen aspect ratio. PAL is the favoured recording format for Fort Boyard, offering the highest quality pictures. From 2013, the fort is now able to record programmes in HD for the first time.
Variations to the format
In 1996, at the height of the French version's popularity, a mini-series entitled Fort Boyard at Night was shown in the autumn. It was filmed entirely at night, and the teams also had slightly more time in which to complete the challenges. In 1997, there were three night-time specials, at Halloween, Christmas, and New Year. In 2012, three further night-time editions were filmed and aired between Halloween (31 October) and Christmas (22 and 29 December).
In some of the French (Seasons 14–16, 2003–2005) and Russian versions (2003–2004), the contestants stay overnight in the Fortress. During this time, they played endurance, mind, and psychological games both for the release of any prisoners they may have had, and for keys to, or time in, the Treasure Room at the end of the game.
Although most seasons have seen changes (not least in hosts), recent changes to the French version of Fort Boyard included:
- From 2006 to 2009, the number of keys determined how much access the team had to the Treasure Room. 5 keys were the minimum needed to open the gate, but the gate would only open to a certain height, which made carrying coins through the gate difficult. A 6th key would open the gate roughly halfway, but it was still not easy to get through. To open the gate fully, 7 keys were needed. In 2006, when the host pulls the switch the Treasure Room gate would start to open immediately. If a team member did not get out of the Treasure Room in time, a portcullis was activated which stopped the tigers, but the money collected was lost forever.
- In the council, teams no longer play to free prisoners; rather, they play for up to 60 extra seconds of extra time in the Treasure Room, in addition to the three minutes guaranteed. From 1995 to 2011, there were a total of 31 different council games.
Hall of Imprints
- There was a new section in which one member donned a diving suit and dived down to the underwater control centre. There, he or she was guided by the team through an underground passage filled with traps and coded doors towards the "Hall of Imprints", freeing their prisoners along the way. Once all members (except the diver) had reached the Hall, they used their right hands to release the crystal, which they needed to enter the council.
- They have extra games which are played to win extra time in The Treasure Room. Four members of the team play a game each against the Master of Darkness, if they won they got 15 seconds each, a total of 1 minute, of extra time in the Treasure room, making it a full 4 minutes.
The Treasure Room
- 2007 was the only season the time in the Treasure Room started at the opening of the gate. The team had 3:00–4:00 minutes from when the host pulled the switch to open the gate. The team also had 25 seconds (if they had 6 keys) or 15 seconds (if they had 7 keys) before the start of the time; this made the time actually 3:15–4:25 minutes in total.
- In 2008, the diving section changed. All members except the diver entered the control centre. They had to put 9 coloured cubes in the correct order, using clues provided by the host. Once the 9 cubes are in place, the trap door for the diver opened. The diver entered a flooded room, with a treasure box, a drawing, and a maze with various coloured keys in it. He or she has had to describe the small drawing to the other team members. The drawing corresponds to a drawing on one of the 9 coloured cubes. The colour of the matching cube determined the key to retrieve from the maze. The team members had to guide the diver through the maze, as the diver only see it from behind. After the key had been freed, it was used to unchain the treasure box. The box was then lifted from the water, but couldn't be opened yet. The key to open it was inside the Treasure Room and would fall down together with the gold.
2009 saw many more changes. Main changes included new opening titles, graphics and a wall of progress which Demi (Passe Muraille) was in control of which lined the wall of the Fort (the wall above the Treasure Room). There were 6 new key games and 2 new clue games in 2009.
- One of the first major changes on the Fort was the before game challenge, called The Tube, which was only used this season. There was a large tube full of coloured water. The team had to find 2 black scratching posts, situated around the Fort, to find the numbers which was the combination to unlock the box containing the cup which was connected to the tube . If they could fill the cup with water before the tube ran out they got a bonus key game after the 45:00 minutes of key games had finished. This game was played in the central circle before the gong.
- Another change was that teams no longer stopped collecting keys at 7 keys but could continue on to collect up to 10 keys. These extra 3 keys were exchanged for clue words at the Treasure Room.
- The middle section of the game was also different. There were now 3 boxes which contained money. The problem was that 2 of them were sealed with glass. During this the prisoners would play Fear Factor style games in an attempt to win "pieces" to eliminate colours. The prisoners were released but if they did not win their games they were not allowed inside the Treasure Room.
- Duels were different in 2009. The team could see what was happening through a window. The starting time was 3:00, but the team needed to bet on the duels with time. These times were 30 seconds, 20 seconds, 10 seconds, and −15 seconds. If they win on −15 Seconds they did not lose any time. This made the minimum time in the Treasure Room 2:45, with the maximum being a full 4:00 minutes.
The Treasure Room
- The Treasure Room had changed in 2009. Firstly, the 6 key sign was raised to shoulder height. Secondly, teams couldn't trade clues for extra keys; they had to play with the keys they had. (If they got under 5 keys someone was sacrificed to Mr. Chan to gain a key.) In the Treasure Room they collected keys for boxes containing extra gold. They were allowed to pick only one box, at the end, and were allowed as many keys as there were people in the Treasure Room. Picking the correct box earned the team the extra gold.
Since 2003, a duel/tournament format has been used by other countries, who prefer this version of Fort Boyard. Two teams play in the Fort at the same time, with only one of them winning at the end. A similar format was used in 1991.
In 2007 and 2008, a formula with duels between three countries (Bulgaria, Serbia and Turkey) was used; two countries (Belgium and Netherlands) in 1991 and with teams of teenagers in 2011 (United Kingdom and United States).
Countries that have used this format include:
- Azerbaijan (2013–14)
- Belgium & Netherlands (1991)
- Balkins (Tri-nations of Bulgaria, Serbia and Turkey) (2007–08)
- Bulgaria (2009)
- Canada (2013–14)
- Denmark (2009–2010)
- Finland (2010, 2012, 2018)
- France (2010)
- Germany (2010)
- Greece (2006–08)
- Netherlands (2011–12, 2014)
- Norway (2010–11)
- Russia (2006, 2012)
- Sweden (2003–04, 2010–17)
- United Kingdom (2011–14)
- United States (1991 pilot, 2011)
In 2010, the duel format was introduced to the show following the low ratings for the previous season in 2009. Although, this was not successful in the French version and was later dropped the same year. The show returned to a more classical version in 2011.
The changes made to the French version in 2010 were:
- Passe-Temps and Mr. Chan left the show.
- Olivier Minne became the only host.
- Two teams competed to try to win the most keys in the first section.
- 12 teams of 4 play 2 sections of the game. The Special team play only section 2 in game of episode 1 because all 4 members are former contestants in Fort Boyard.
- The team who won were called the "champion team" and would return the following week. Until the last episode, the Special team would play as the "normal team".
- Key games not only included the ones inside cells but also the clue games, which were played against a clepsydre. If the team lost a clue game they were made prisoner.
- There were 3 rounds of key games. Before each round there was a duel. Winning the duel not only won them a key, but also meant the other team had to win their game or their player was automatically made a prisoner.
- If there is no clear winner after the 3 rounds a new section of the show, Crossbow Relay, was introduced. Before this, the prisoners were released. All members had to complete a relay course for keys.
- The team with the lowest number of keys was sent off the Fort and a new team (champion team from last week) was sent back to compete against the current champions.
- The champion team from the last episode then faced the round 1 winners in clue games. These clue games can be key games with clue canisters, or clue games which were against the clepsydre.
- There were 3 rounds of clue games, with each round starting with a duel. Again the losing team was made prisoner if they didn't win their clue game, but the winning team also got to choose which team got to play which game.
- After the clue rounds, any prisoners were released by the duels in the council room. 2/3 was required to win.
The Treasure Room
- At the Treasure Room, both teams used their clues and wrote down the codeword on a slate. Once this was put in place they had the remaining time of 3:30 (which included working out the code word). After 1 minute the gate started to open and began closes after 3:00 minutes (took 30 seconds to close fully). At around 0:15 seconds the slots were closed so the team couldn't insert any more money.
- The gold was then weighed and the codes were revealed. The team with the highest gold and correct codeword won.
- If both teams had the correct code, the team with the highest weight of gold won €10,000 and returned the following week.
- If both teams had the incorrect code, the champion team would return the following week, but didn't win €10,000.
- The team which won the Grand Final (episode 7) would receive €50,000 prize (includes the €10,000 won previously).
2010 German changes
- Most of the show's characters are gone.
- The Watch Tower and the riddles have been removed.
- The duel/tournament format was used.
2011 French changes
- Olivier Minne continues as the only host.
- Return to a more "classic" format, one team and seven keys required. (45 mins of key games, 25 mins for the adventures)
- Return of celebrities playing for charity.
- 3 new characters, including the return of the mud wrestler (Lady Boo).
- Father Fouras now chairs the Council.
- The team can see what is happening in the Council through a window. The starting time is 3:00, but the team must bet on the duels with this time. The times are 20 seconds, 15 seconds, 15 seconds and 10 seconds. If they win on their choosing time it will be added to the 3:00 minutes, but if they lose it will be deducted. This makes the minimum time in the Treasure Room 2:00, with the maximum being a full 4:00.
The Hall of Judgement
This takes place after the key games. The Hall of Judgement provides opportunities for candidates to obtain the missing keys against the sacrifice of one of them but also to free the team members locked in during the first half. The challenges are set by new female character, the White Judge; played by Louise-Marie Hustings in 2011, then Raphaëlle Lenoble during 2012, and Delphine Wespiser since 2013 (who was a contestant at Halloween 2012). The challenges used are similar to those on The Cube and Minute to Win It.
- Each team member is free to be sacrificed to receive an extra key. The White Judge, sets a challenge the sacrifice/prisoner must complete to be released. If failed, they go directly into the terrible jails of La Boule until the end of the show; if they succeed, however, they are released and return to their team.
The Treasure Room
- When the host pulls the switch, the Treasure Room gate will start to open immediately. This was also done in 2006.
- The team have 12 seconds to process the password, instead of the normal 15 seconds.
2011 UK changes
- The show is now called Fort Boyard: Ultimate Challenge.
- Laura Hamilton and Andy Akinwolere, previously Geno Segers, present the new series.
- Teams are made-up of teenagers aged between 13–19 years old.
- The show's characters are gone and until series 4, the tigers were not used.
- The teams only collect keys and the Treasure Room section is changed.
2012 French changes
- The times are 20 seconds, 15 seconds and 10 seconds. If they win on their choosing time it will be added to the 3:00 minutes, but if they lose it will be deducted. This makes the minimum time in the Treasure Room 2:15, with the maximum being 3:45 if all bets are won. The second duel is now a word puzzle rather than a contest with the Master of Shadows.
2014 French changes
- The times are 10 seconds for three games and 30 seconds for two games. If they win on their choosing time it will be added to the 3:00 minutes, but if they lose it will be deducted. This makes the minimum time in the Treasure Room 1:30, with the maximum being 4:30 if all bets are won. The prisoners will be released with 15 seconds deducted for each player.
2015 French changes
- A new area was added, called The Cage. This happens at the 25-minute mark in part 1. The team must sacrifice 1 key to enter The Cage, where three of the team members will compete in individual games against one of the Fort's guards. Each challenge completed successfully adds a key to the team's total, meaning if all 3 team members win their games, the net profit is 2 keys.
- Prisoners are now allowed to escape after Part 2, completing a course to get out of prison. The prisoner has 1:30 to escape, and any additional time taken is deducted from the team's starting 2:00 in the Treasure Room.
- Duels no longer deduct from the team's Treasure Room time, they only add time depending on the team member's performance in the duel. This includes a new clock for Father Fouras' riddle, which is divided into three sections, 30, 20, and 10. Should the team member solve the riddle in time, the amount of time added is determined by the section the clock pointer is in, meaning the riddle is worth less time the longer it takes to solve it.
The music for the original French version of Fort Boyard was composed by Paul Koulak, a French music composer. He composed the main themes for the show as well as the incidental music and game music that is used throughout the show. His music has been used for every version of Fort Boyard around the world, except the German version, where they composed their own music for the show and games.
Up to 2017, seven different opening theme songs have been used on the show; the first was used until 1994, the second in 1995, the third from 1996 to 2000, the fourth in 2001 and 2002 (used by the UK in 2003 during the Treasure Room), the "Dance Version" (used by France during the end credits of the night editions in 1996 and the UK from 1999 to 2001), the sixth theme song which was introduced in the 2003 French version and the seventh, introduced in 2016. Fort Boyard Ultimate Challenge uses a different opening theme and game music but does use the recent French opening credits and logo.
Some of the original music for Fort Boyard was released on CD in France, both on CD single and CD album form, in 1999. Tracks that featured on these CDs include:
- Fort Boyard Main Title Theme
- Fort Boyard Main Theme, Dance Version
Fort Boyard: Takes On The World
Broadcast in October 2004 by Challenge, Fort Boyard: Takes On The World was a ten-part documentary which introduced British viewers to various different versions of the show from around the world. Comedian and former contestant Tim Vine provided the voiceover. The show was split into sections including "The Good, The Bad and The Ugly", "Heroes and Zeroes" and "The A-Z of Fort Boyard".
There were also interviews with various characters of the Fort (with the humour provided by the fact that Tim cannot speak French and the characters cannot speak English).
Commercial replicas and merchandise
Fred Burton created a comic book adaptation of the French-language edition of the show, published by Éditions Jungle.
Fort Boyard: Le Défi
Fort Boyard: Le Défi is a PC CD-ROM game based on the television show and released in 1995. It provides the player the possibility to become a team member, playing the well known game in the Fort. The game was created by Microids, France Televisions and R&P Electronic Media. The game was available in French and Dutch.
Fort Boyard: La Legende
Fort Boyard: La Legende is an action adventure game, based in and around La Rochelle and on Fort Boyard. It was only released in the original French version (as a sort of tie-in to the game show) and the later Dutch-spoken versions. The lack of an English version made this game highly obscure: it doesn't have a MobyGames entry. The hero of this game has no name; he is going to look for a treasure that was hidden by Napoleon at Fort Boyard. For this he needs to look around for clues, and get people to help, in and around La Rochelle.
The game is quite long: one can finish it in two hours. One attempt to stretch it is by putting in a lot of points where the player has lost the game. For instance, if the player is rude to Liliane Denis in the bar, she will not help, so the player cannot finish the game.
Fort Boyard: La Legende was released in 1996 by Expand Images, Microïds, France Télévisions, and R&P Electronic Media.
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