Mike Park, Cosplay Team leader
After the Cosplay (Furry) Team's episode aired, I got in touch with team leader Mike about the team's experience filming the show. Thanks, Mike, for such interesting information!

CMD: Who among the team decided to apply for The Crystal Maze, and what was the selection and audition process like?

Mike: Well, I think we all saw the interviews were opening up about the same time. However, as I run a group on Facebook for TV show applications, I guess I was the first. The selection process is pretty standard as they go, starting with a written part followed by a phone interview. After this, we were invited down to a physical interview with the entire team. Without giving everything away, the interviewers were absolutely amazing and we had a good giggle with them. Basically just like we were on the show, giggly, excited, and there for a bit of a laugh and a good time.

We knew there would be thousands applying (over 30,000 if I am correct), and I knew it was a long shot, but we must have made a good impression.

CMD: Is the Maze built as we see it on our screens, with continuous passageways linking the zones?

Mike: The set... is... FANTASTIC! We even started in my favourite zone!

Aztec - So much sand, was like Tenby 2.0. Just how I imagined it would be back in the day.
Futuristic - Very clinical, loved how they updated this to bring it bang up to date.
Medieval - Well, this looks like our local pub, so I felt right at home here. The lighting and slippery balance beam were cool to traverse. But someone needs to have a look at the void.
Industrial - My absolute favourite zone. Felt super solid, I'm just glad I didn't have to climb over that fence.

During this production they were not physically linked. I suppose that is due to the building they are housed in and that it would be easier to keep the sets physically separated so they can change games around between recordings.

CMD: Are the decisions as to who to put in each game really spontaneous, or planned beforehand? Did you have a plan coming in as to who was suited for each type of game?

Mike: Well, before the show, I asked the team what two types of game they would preferably want to play and zones they would prefer to play in. I knew that the type of games are predetermined, and LUCKILY we all got the two games we would like, just not the zones. The first game came up, and it was the Mystery where you have to turn the lights off. When choosing the team, I asked Martin and Jen if they wanted to do it, as I had totally forgotten our plan on what games we were doing, so I ended up doing it. This little part was cut.

With regards to knowing ahead of time we have no idea. It was a total surprise to what was happening with regards to zones and games as you see on the show, so basically the last game is a crapshoot with who is left. Hence I left Martin at the end as I was sure he could do a physical if it came up. As we had a mental second to last, I guessed the last one would not be the same.

CMD: Can you describe the experience at the studio as you arrived and got ready to play?

Mike: Well, when we got to the studio, we were tired, very tired. Murdock (Martin), when pulling into the studio, was too far away from the door to press the buzzer to get into the car park, and had to use a banana to reach the button. Thank you, banana - without you, we may still be trying to get in :P

Our tiredness was quickly rectified with coffee and energy drinks, we were then beautified and stuffed into the famous jumpsuits. We were basically like little kids, about to live the dream that we have had for many years. All of the staff were amazing, kept our energies high and ready for a LONG day of recording.

During the first zone, there was one issue of a fire evacuation where we all had to leave... While waiting outside we were still having a good laugh and on our way back in, I started singing (loudly) along with some amazing members of staff and our team, to such hits as 'Do you hear the people sing' and 'Um Bop', before getting told off by someone else who was filming in another nearby studio for being loud.

CMD: The audience sees team members being let into the game rooms and immediately start playing, but we get hints that editing is involved. What really happens there?

Mike: With some of the games, we went straight in as you see on the show. There were a few others where they had to get a few things set up first, and we had to not peek into the game cell as this was done. Tempting I know to get a bit of a preview, but you have to play by the rules. There were a couple of parts where they would retake for editing purposes, like reading the signs as you go into the room, however this was done at the very end after you play the games proper, so the 3 minutes is 3 minutes.

CMD: We as the audience don't think about the cameras, but there must be at least one camera operator in the room with you - does that make it more distracting? Were any zones or games worse than others for that?

Mike: To be honest, when playing you do not notice them, or at least I didn't. You are so in the zone of 'Doing the thing, and getting the points' that you kind of block things out like that. However there was one moment in the 'Number square' game in Medieval. After about thirty seconds one of the camera operators moved right in front of me, blocking my view of the puzzle to get the shots of us in the window. Was to be expected during filming and this honestly was the only time this happened. I think the only other time we noticed the cameras was during Rob's infamous trip into the solar system... We could see them physically laughing at the situation! By this point our entire team had almost melted into the floor shouting at Rob. (Sorry Rob)

CMD: Are any major retakes involved to get the footage for the final programme?

Mike: Really, no. We did a couple of the running from game to game again, and a few times there was a bit of extra footage taken of us 'picking things up and moving them' etc.

One of the games required a bit more patience - the radioactive rocks one. The adjudicators were extremely fair and advised us there was a short circuit of sorts where the alarm went off when it hadn't made a connection several times. We thought Jen had been locked in, and we recorded the bit where I would have bought her out four times. Each time we were then told, actually there was a small issue and it would reset to where the issue occurred. We continued and Jen was SOOO close to winning that crystal. This is why when she exited Richard and I said what we did.

Things like this happen when you have a production of this size, but I was amazed at how quickly everything was sorted.

CMD: Was there any editing in the broadcast that surprised you, or seemed significantly different from your experience on the day?

Mike: Well as with any broadcast, they record as much as they can, and this can then be edited in post as they need. For example, in our beginning interview we did a lot more than was shown and they cut about 2/3 of it out to my estimations, same with some of the banter we had with Richard. Some of his jokes would have probably made it post watershed. He had us in tears all the way round . Even when it looked like we would be going to the dome with 1 crystal.

CMD: Did Richard Ayoade really shave your beard? :) And is it coming back?

Mike: Richard didn't shave it himself. However out of my sense of honour, I had to do it. Though the thought of him chasing me through the car park, shaver in his wooden hand would be quite amusing. I was not expecting him to pull out the trimmers at the end. Well played Richard, well played!

Well, we did not win the pony-trekking holiday to Ullswater, but we had an AMAZING time that none of the team will forget!

Thanks to EVERYONE involved from the interview to the show being shown last week. You made our childhood dreams come true and brought back a truly inspirational show. May it continue on for many years to come!

And yes... the beard WILL come back some time soon, and I can start my Bob Ross cosplay again, and paint some more happy little memories...