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"Monique, the tiger's head if you please."
"Félindra, tête de tigre!"
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Fort Boyard is a summer Game Show, originating in France in 1990 and, so far, running for over 30 seasons there. Several foreign versions have been made — Swedish, Dutch, Finnish, Russian, Algerian, 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 La Rochelle on the Atlantic Ocean, 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. The French version features teams of celebrities since the mid-nineties, and all the money that they win goes to charity associations that they support. Some non-French versions have contestants playing to win money for themselves.

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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, reducing the numbers of dwarves to two again like it was the case during the show's early years.

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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.

The show had a short-lived spinoff, Boyard Land, which lasted two seasons in 2019 and 2020.


Fort Boyard provides examples of:

  • Abhorrent Admirer: Maria Bodin for Père Fouras; he'd rather avoid the old crone at all cost.
  • Adam Westing: Basically the joke behind Cyril Gossbo: Cyril Féraud, France Television's youthful and good-looking host in charge of afternoon shows aimed towards middle-aged ladies, plays a life-size, sentient Ken doll with the personality of an over-the-top pretty boy who constantly winks and flashes his Twinkle Smile at the camera. Even the name of his trial, "Slaime", is a pun on Féraud's trademark game show, "Slam" (but with more slime).
  • Agent Peacock: Narcisse, especially in the 2018 season. He even recorded theme music for the show and all of its characters.
  • Animal Motifs:
    • The primary animal motif of the game, and the very symbol of the show, is the tiger, from the felines guarding the treasure room. The Masters are wearing tiger masks, a tiger bust is turned to open the boyard coffer, and the tiger head symbol cover the Fort to the point of Sigil Spam.
    • The secondary motif is the snake. Snakes are the most common critters testing the contestants' fear (there are 127 snakes on the Fort in 2020). It's a prominent symbol for Blanche, who has an albino snake pet. The symbol is also present in the Council, opposing the Masters' tigers, thus making it the motif of the contestants themselves.
    • The Boo family also have their own motifs, with the adder for Little Boo, the spider for Lady Boo and the bear for Big Boo.
  • Audible Gleam: A constant with Cyril Gossbo's Twinkle Smiles. Most of the jingles of the "Slaime" challenge use the same audio effect.
  • Bad Vibrations: Big Boo's entrance in the Cage is preceded by the screen shaking with every of his steps.
  • Bait-and-Switch: The 2020 challenge "le cabinet du dentiste" is set up to look like a trial based on some Depraved Dentist antics. In fact, it's the entrance to Willy's new clandestine bar. He has to hide it from Père Fouras since the latter closed up his restaurant, Chez Willy, in retaliation for trying to take over Boyard Land.
  • Bear Trap: Gary Boo put a bear trap around the key of his cell, claiming he needed to protect it from a grizzly. This forces the contestant to try and catch it with a fishpole and hook.
  • Blazing Inferno Hellfire Sauce: The 2020 version of the Willymix involves eating a chili pepper ranking high on the Scoville scale. And lasting 20 seconds without any water.
  • Book Safe: For The Library challenge, the clue is inside a hollowed-out grimoire, which must be brought back from underneath the floor, which is filled with snakes.
  • Bridal Carry: A common tactic when looting the treasure at the end: since the rules forbid carrying gold in your clothes, a way to increase one's carrying capacity is (for the strongest contestants) to carry a woman and pile as much gold as possible on her belly before the time expires.
  • The Brute: Mister Boo is the go-to guy for doing Père Fouras' dirty work, notably kicking Megagaf out of the Fort whenever he sneaks in. Also one of the few characters that remains mute. Replaced by Big Boo in 2020, who's even bigger.
  • Catchphrase:
    • Pretty much every host says "Felindra, tête de tigre!" ("Felindra, tiger head!") at the end in order to unlock the treasure (with a tiger head-shaped mechanism).
    • When there was the character of La Boule, hosts said "La Boule, le gong!" to order him to hit the gong, thus starting the show.
  • Centrifugal Farce: The "Gagarine" challenge has the contestant tied to a gyroscopic chair and spun around while Père Fouras is asking him/her one of his riddles.
  • Chez Restaurant: Chef Willy's challenge is naturally called "Chez Willy". Though it can hardly be called gastronomic...
  • Clutching Hand Trap: The teams can sacrifice a player to give them an extra clue word for the treasure room. The player has to reach into a tiger statue's mouth for the clue, but their hand is then manacled to the tiger.
  • Cold-Blooded Torture: Parodied with the "Willymix", a torture chamber run by a Fort-devouring Willy Rovelli, who ties up a contestant and sprays them with mayonnaise and ketchup if they fail his trivia questions.
  • Cordon Bleugh Chef: Since 2013, Willy Rovelli defies contestants to eat his horrendous cooking for a key or a clue. His recipes have included surströmming (fermented herring), surströmming ice cream(!), casgiu merzu (Corsican cheese with maggots), nattō, fish-eyes maki, insect sushi, roasted scarabs, fried scorpions, tarantula kebabs, grilled centipedes, century eggs, rooster testicles and legs, pork brain, sea cucumbers in cod liver oil, huitlacoche (corn smut), kumis (fermented mare milk), Polynesian giant snails, raw ostrich egg, hákarl (Icelandic fermented shark), criadillas (bull testes), haggis, durian, and several combinations of the above.
  • Covered in Gunge: An unavoidable fate for the contestants facing several challenges is to end up covered in disgusting stuff, such as the mud wrestling, the spiderweb, the ketchup factory, the original Willymix or the "Slaime" game show. Though they are at least given the opportunity to clean up before the next challenge, and not stay that way for the rest of the game.
  • Creepy Doll: The "Doll House" challenge is full of them. They're not the worst part of the challenge, though: that's the Spiders.
  • 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 in their 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. In later seasons, they have the opportunity to escape near the end, but it will cost their team time in the treasure room if they are too slow.
  • The Eponymous Show: For the Spa challenge, the questions are asked as part of the "Père Fouras Show".
  • Evil Laugh:
    • Willy Rovelli easily indulges in evil laughter, betraying his sadistic tendencies.
    • Magik the Genie is no slouch either, his laugh ending with a Distant Reaction Shot above the Fort, and then in orbit.
  • Excalibur in the Stone: One challenge is to pull a (very heavy) sword out of a wooden stump, and use it to chop a rope holding the key in place. It is named "Excalibur", of course.
  • 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 (also called Masters of Games or Masters of Time depending on season) 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 a bungee jump or other challenges at a high altitude. Also present in several challenges and ordeals involving mice, snakes, spiders, insects...
  • Failed a Spot Check:
    • It happens that a contestant spend most of the time of the challenge looking for the key/the clue or how to free it without finding anything, even with the team yelling instructions all along. Makes for good Hilarious Outtakes compilation.
    • It has also happened for contestants to win the challenge and exit the cell just in time... except without taking the key with them.
  • Fanfare: The main theme has moments with other instruments (notably percussion, violin or xylophone), but its most triumphant and iconic part is heavy on the brass.
  • Fanservice:
    • The cylinders. They somehow always pick a girl to straddle that thing, and the camera always seems to point right down her shirt.
    • The mud Cat Fight.
    • One clue challenge involved finding the word written somewhere on a topless woman.
    • Blanche (played by Delphine Wespiser, who won Miss France 2012), whose outfits have grown increasingly revealing over the seasons. Lampshaded by Narcisse during her intro, complete with Male Gaze.
    • The outfits of Blanche's twin sister Rouge (also played by Delphine Wespiser) count too.
  • Forging Scene: The intro to the 30th anniversary season includes a scene of Père Fouras having the 9 keys of the treasure room forged.
  • Fun with Acronyms: A 2021 new challenge is the B.E.E.F.: Bureau d'Études des Épreuves du Fort.
  • Glowing Eyelights of Undeath: The King of Silence is a skeleton gisant, and if woken up (or at the end of the challenge anyway) it springs up with red glows in its eye sockets.
  • Gratuitous Latin:
    • "Dura Lex Sed Lex", emblazoned above Blanche's room. It means, "The law is tough, but it's the law." Doubles as her Pre-Mortem One-Liner, delivered right before a contestant who failed her challenge is sent to jail.
    • "Fortes Fortuna Juvat" ("Fortune favors the bold/brave") is written in the alcove where a contestant has to lay right after Blanche's challenges, to be sent falling down a pit leading to the Willymix.
    • "In Tigris Fauces Se Jectare" ("Throw yourself in the tigers' jaws") is emblazoned above the entrance of the council chamber, which is shaped like a tiger's head and the contestants have to crawl inside the mouth to enter.
  • Gravity Screw: A new 2021 challenge is "Le Monde à l'envers" ("The Upside-Down World"), which involves crawling through a oven to emerge in a kitchen with all furniture inverted, and the camera is upside-down too, giving the impression the contestant is walking on the ceiling.
  • I Broke a Nail:
    • In 2021, Nabilla managed to break one of her (very long) nail twice, in the challenges "Rodeo Dino" and "The Upside-Down World". The latter incident ended up closing the opening sequence of the season.
    • Celebrity contestant Sally Gray notices that she has broken a nail when she is hanging upside-down on the outer wall of the fort.
  • Institutional Apparel:
    • In 2021, Willy Rovelli is sent to prison by the Père Fouras for his clandestine bar the year before. Hence he's wearing the black-and-white stripped inmate outfit.
    • Also worn by Passe-Murailles from times to times.
  • The Jailer: The strong man is also usually tasked with dragging contestants who failed their challenge to jail.
    • La Boule in the earlier seasons, a rotund and red-faced sailor.
    • Later Sumo, a sumotori.
    • Then Mister Boo, a lucha-libre-style masked wrestler.
    • Starting 2020, Big Boo, a Giant (1.95m, 142 kg) Scary Black Man.
  • Key Confusion: Some challenges involve finding the right key to unlock the main key.
  • Large Ham: The second host of the French version from 2000 to 2002, actor Jean-Pierre Castaldi (who led a team of contestants in 1999), reprised some of his hammy comedic antics from his role in the first live-action Asterix movie, Asterix & Obelix Take on Caesar. And he had No Indoor Voice during the 2002 season.
  • Laser Hallway: The 2012 French edition features a laser hallway challenge, though involving wires rather than actual lasers. Played straight with the bank-robbing challenge in the 2018 season.
  • Lazy Bum: Pr. Kevin challenges the contestants' knowledge in the Boyard Academy... while doing the absolute minimum of effort himself. And usually taking a little nap right afterward. Or before. Or both. When outside the watchtower, he moves around on a motorized bed.
  • 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.
  • "Mission: Impossible" Cable Drop: Spoofed by Passe-Murailles for the intro to the Museum challenge.
  • Mountain Man: A new character introduced in 2021 is Gary Boo (Jean-Marc Généreux), a crazy Quebecois trapper who was attracted to Fort Boyard by the numerous exotic animals to hunt. He built his hut inside a cell with plenty obstacles for the contestants, and welcomes them there at the end of his rifle.
  • Ms. Fanservice: The Naked Woman (Arianne in France), and many other female characters throughout the years.
  • Mud Wrestling: One challenge involves a female contestant (with one exception) fighting a strongwoman in a pit of mud. As of 2013, though, the challenge now can feature a pair facing the strongwoman (called Lady Boo as of 2011) and the newly-introduced strongman, Mister Boo. The latter, though, can also fight against two female contestants trying to get the key in a box where he sits (2013, 2014 and 2016), or, as of 2017, against a male contestant.
  • Nice Hat: Narcisse's steampunk-inspired tophat.
  • Obvious Rule Patch: After singer Vianney managed to easily won the Ketchup Factory challenge by throwing as many tomatoes he could above the ketchup pool, the challenge was modified with a drawer delivering only eight tomatoes at a time to the contestant.
  • Parlor Games: One challenge is based on the Musical Chairs, held by the comedic duo Les Bodin's. Although the contestants are blindfolded and the chairs randomly rise from the floor, to add difficulty.
  • Parody Assistance: In 1992, comedic trio Les Inconnus made a parody sketch of the game titled Fort Boyaux ("Fort Bowels"). Which was filmed... entirely at Fort Boyard, with the help of the usual team responsible for the show, including then-current show host Sophie Davant As Herself. Recreating such an iconic set elsewhere would have been very hard (and costly).
  • Pinned to the Wall: Willy Rovelli gets pinned a couple times to a cell door by his cook uniform, from the Arrowgram shot by Rouge.
  • The Quiet One: A lot of the members of the Fort didn't talk at all in earlier seasons, with the exception of Père Fouras and the host, and Rouge and Blanche. In the later seasons, they're joined by the professors at Boyard Academy, Willy Rovelli, Megagaf, Rouge's kids, and the Bodins, to the point where the only really silent people in the show are the Père Fouras' assistants, the Boo family, and the Masters.
  • 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.
  • Reptiles Are Abhorrent: Snakes and lizards are among the various creepy-crawlies you can expect to deal with in certain challenges, such as the Spa, the Zoo, the Library, and some Boyard Academy challenges.
  • Revisiting the Roots: In the 2021, the B.E.E.F. challenge puts back Père Fouras in the lookout tower, which he occupied at the very beginning of the game to ask riddles, but hasn't for a long time, the tower having been instead occupied by the various professors of the Boyard Academy in the previous years. He even mentions that it brings back memories.
  • Rhymes on a Dime: In the French version, the short voice-over descriptions of every challenge are always rhyming.
  • 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". Although latter iterations have the riddles asked while the contestants are in very stressful situations (catapulted in the air, in a booth filling with water, creepy crawlies falling on them, etc.), which makes focusing on giving the correct answer much harder.
  • Rules Spiel: The UK C5 Version has two:
    • In the first phase of the game: "Fort Boyard's gold is guarded by tigers. To win some the team must first unlock the treasure room door. This requires four keys. These are obtained by succeeding Boyard's challenges or answering correctly the riddles set by the Professor he keeps locked in the watchtower. But getting the keys is only the beginning..."
    • And in the second: "The treasure room door is now unlocked, but it won't open until the gong sounds. By then, you need to know the password. Each time you successfully complete one of my ordeals, you get a clue. The password is the one word that can be used either before or after each of the clues to create a new word or familiar expression. When you enter the treasure room, the password must be spelt out correctly to release the gold, but you will only have a maximum of two minutes before the door closes again, and the tigers are released."
  • 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 1990 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.
  • Scenery Porn: The ending credits feature numerous aerial shots of the coast of Charente-Maritime near the Fort Boyard, which is extremely scenic.
  • Self-Deprecation: The character of Narcisse is a caricature of his Real Life actor, singer and songwriter Francis Lalanne.
  • Separated by a Common Language: Gary Boo's most opaque Quebecois expressions are subtitled in standard French.
  • 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 up soaking wet.
  • Shell Game:
    • 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.
    • Later refurbished as one of the Masters' challenges for time, with a boyard under three cups. Again, rarely won, since the Master is quite good at palming the coin unnoticed.
  • Shout-Out:
  • 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 wields a bow.
  • Sigil Spam: The tiger face/tiger head can be seen everywhere on the Fort, including inside the "O" of the title.
  • Skeleton Crew: A few challenges have skeletons adorning the scenery, such as the Underwater Cell (with a prison guard and a prisoner), the Phone Booth, the entrance to Gagarine, the Ghost Train or Tata Fouras.
  • Soft Glass: Invoked with the Bank Robbery challenge: the contestant has to break a "glass panel" to enter the coffers room, but it's completely safe since it's made of sugar commonly used in filming.
  • Spiders Are Scary: The "Doll House" challenge involves picking up live tarantulas and removing small notes tied to their undersides to decipher a code.
  • Spooky Séance: The "Tata Fouras" challenge features the skeleton of Père Fouras' aunt, a stereotypical gypsy Fortune Teller who's reading the future in tea leaves around a "table tournante". Except the table is really turning — and very fast.
  • Squirrels in My Pants: Comedian Booder ended up getting a snake slipping into his pants while doing The Library challenge.
  • Sticky Situation: A 2015 challenge involves crawling underneath a bionic spider to steal its eggs, while struggling against its extremely sticky webbing. Latter evolution of the game involves prying out the eggs glued to the floor while wearing a Spider-Man-like suite, and throwing them toward a target (which is very hard since they still stick to the gloves).
  • Tempting Fate: Out yourself as arachnophobic and you will be given "Doll House". Say that you hate bugs and you will be given the Telephone Booth. Fear of heights? There's a bungee cord and safety harness with your name on it. Admit to having a weak stomach, and you've just booked a reservation at Chez Willy. Basically, just keep your mouth shut about your phobias if you're on this show.
  • Theme Naming: The three dwarves, "Passe-Partout", "Passe-Temps" and "Passe-Muraille".note 
  • Then Let Me Be Evil: Parodied with Willy Rovelli. He got tired of people throwing up after eating his food starting in 2017, so he intentionally started serving even more disgusting concoctions, and then became an outright Torture Technician in 2018 after constructing the "Willymix".
  • Thing-O-Meter: Some of the second-part challenges have a "Trouillomètre" ("chicken-o-meter") measuring how scared the contestants are based on their screams.
  • Third-Person Person: Megagaf, like some of the superheroes he parodies, speak in third person.
  • Troll: The Père Fouras in the latest seasons sometimes trolls the contestants. One of his gems:
    Père 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.
    Contestants: [cheers]
    Père Fouras: The bad news is, it was won by the Master.
    Contestants: [audible noises of frustration]
  • Twinkle Smile: About any time Cyril Gossbo flashes his teeth, there's a sparkle for the camera. His teeth even glow in the dark!
  • Visual Pun: In French, a "table tournante" ("turning table") designates the table used during spiritism séances. For the "Tata Fouras" challenge, said table becomes a real turning table — with enough centrifugal force to press the contestant in the chair.
  • White Void Room: The throne room where Blanche challenges the contestants is bathed in white light with no walls visible.

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