Series / Fort Boyard

"Monique, the tiger's head if you please."
"Félindra, tête de tigre!"

Fort Boyard is a summer Game Show, originating in France in 1990 and, so far, running for 25 seasons in the French version, but several foreign versions have been made. As of 2012, the French, Swedish, Dutch, Finnish, Russian and Algerian versions remain in production, along with a joint venture between the United States and the UK featuring teenagers.

All the shows take place on Fort Boyard, a 19th century fortress off the west coast of France.

Depending on the version, four to six contestants take part in physical and mental challenges under time limits to firstly acquire keys to a treasure room and then to acquire clues to a password that, inside the treasure room, will release a load of coins. All against some sort of countdown clock. Some versions have contestants playing to win actual money, but the French version features teams of celebrities playing for charity since the mid-nineties.

In the UK version, these challenges were set by Boyard, master of the fort (played by Leslie Grantham in the first UK version). Whether or not he's evil seems to vary according to the version.

In the current French version, the challenges are set by the Père Fouras, an old, bald intellectual, and the show itself is hosted by Olivier Minne since 2003 (it was hosted by Patrice Laffont from 1990 to 1999 and Jean-Pierre Castaldi in 2000-2002). Three dwarves, "Passe-Partout", "Passe-Temps" and "Passe-Muraille" (since 2004), are frequently present to assist the master of the fort by escorting the team, bringing information about the next challenge, and holding on to what the team's won. The actor playing "Passe-Temps" was fired in 2010.

When Channel 4 wanted to make a UK version, the filming schedule of the French original meant they couldn't use the fort, so they went and built The Crystal Maze instead. Many years later there was indeed a British series of Fort Boyard, but by that time it was viewed as a poor man's The Crystal Maze.


  • Adaptational Villainy: Downplayed with the Père Fouras. In the latest seasons, he's presented in the plot as the man who created the game in order to prevent the contenders to "steal" his money. (It's worth noting here that the aformentioned contenders play for charitable associations). Of course, he's still fair-play enough to create games that are winnable and to reward the winners.
  • Cain and Abel: The backstory of Blanche, the ruler of the fort in the story, and her sister Rouge. Rouge is Cain, Blanche is Abel. Rouge tried to fight her sister for the throne but lost and ended locked up.
  • Cool Old Guy: Père Fouras
  • Cordon Bleugh Chef: Since 2013, Willy Rovelli defies contestants to eat his horrendous cooking for a key or a clue.
  • Dwindling Party: While this isn't a Deadly Game and contestants are imprisoned rather than killed, they can be eliminated for the rest of the episode (with occasional shots of them suffering in cells). It is uncommon for just a single team member to reach the treasure, but such things happen from time to time, especially when the team aren't in best physical condition and don't pay attention to water clocks.
  • Excalibur in the Stone: One challenge is to pull a sword out of a wooden stump, and use it to chop a rope holding the key in place. It was named "excalibur".
  • The Faceless: Before entering the treasure hall, the team goes to the Council and they must face four challenges in order to gain more time. They play games with Masters of Darkness who all wear a metal tiger mask. They look very intimidating and often try to make the contestants nervous. Though a person without a face is creepy enough already.
  • Face Your Fears: A contestant doesn't like heights? Chances are good that said contestant will find themselves walking a tightrope or performing another challenge at a high altitude. Also present in several challenges and ordeals involving mice, snakes, spiders, insects...
  • Fanservice:
    • The cylinders.
    • The mud Cat Fight.
    • One clue challenge involved finding the word written somewhere on a topless woman.
  • Game of Nim
  • The High Queen: Blanche is presented as the ruler of the Fort.
  • Laser Hallway: The 2012 French edition features a laser hallway challenge, though involving wires rather than actual lasers.
  • Lock and Key Puzzle: Literally, keys are required to open the treasure room, clues to retrieve the gold. Also, some challenges and ordeals fall under this category, with keys or other items required to retrieve the prize... or, in several cases, to exit the cell in which the challenge takes place.
  • Losing Horns: If a team loses in the Treasure Room, a sad version of the show's theme tune is played. There's no falling off at the end, so it's a partial type A.
  • Ms. Fanservice: The Naked Woman (Arianne in France).
  • Mud Wrestling: One challenge involves a female contestant fighting a strongwoman in a pit of mud. As of 2013, though, the challenge now can feature a male contestant facing a strongman in the mud... or a pair facing them both.
  • Only Smart People May Pass / Riddle Me This: Many of the challenges, most of them are provided by the Père Fouras. In some cases, degenerating to "Only the dumb may not pass".
  • Pure Is Not Good: Blanche is said to be pure (or purer than her sister), but the narration also heavily implies that she is either Ambiguously Evil or Above Good and Evil.
  • Race Against the Clock: Each challenge, ordeal, or puzzle is like this, with varying consequences for running out of time ranging from being locked in the challenge cell to watching a clue word burn up to losing all the money earned in the Treasure Room.
  • Red Eyes, Take Warning: Rouge has red eyes and is one of the most antagonistic persons in the Fort.
  • Saw a Woman in Half:
    • The Halloween 2012 here had a key on the box covering the upper part of the Woman's body, which had to undo a manacle that had the main Key the contestant needed. The trick was, you had to saw her in half, then move the upper half of her body (the table she was on had wheels, though) to the manacle to get the Key.
    • This 2010 episode had the Key the contestant needed IN a compartment on the top the box covering the upper part of the Woman's body, so you needed to still had to saw her in half to get to it. This time, though, no extra lugging a part of a woman's body was needed.
  • Sexy Soaked Shirt: One of the challenges is to fill a container with water that is kept in buckets hanging from the ceiling. The person has to move on a running belt. They usually end soaking wet.
    • One of the oldest challenge is a shell game (called "bonneteau" in French). Performed by Serge Avril, a stage magician, it consists of finding a little key under the cups; 3 keys (hence, 3 successes) in a limited time are necessary to win the challenge. Very, very few contestants ever made it through, 'cause the gambler is really good.
  • Shout-Out: Between her bow, her braid and her clothes, Rouge brings in mind Katniss Everdeen.
  • Sibling Yin-Yang: The two princesses of the Fort, Blanche and Rouge. Blanche is a graceful ruler, wears white robes and is the purer of the two. Rouge is said to be evil, dresses like a fighter in black and red clothes and weilds a bow.
  • Sticky Situation: A 2015 challenge involves crawling underneath a bionic spider to steal its eggs, while struggling against its extremely sticky webbing.
  • Theme Naming: The three dwarves, "Passe-Partout", "Passe-Temps" and "Passe-Muraille".note 
  • Thing-O-Meter: Some of the second-part challenges have a "Trouillomètre" ("chiken-o-meter") measuring how scared the contestants are based on their screams.
  • Troll: The Père Fouras in the latest seasons, who's also the case of a downplayed Adaptational Villainy (see above), sometimes trolls the contenders. One of his gems:
    Fouras (after a duel in the Council): "I have a good news and a bad news. The good news is, the duel has been won."
    Contenders: (cheers)
    Fouras: "The bad news is, it was won by the Master."
    Contenders: (audible noises of frustration)
  • Wizard Beard: The Père Fouras sports a long white beard and he looks like a mysterious sorcerer.