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Series / Fort Boyard

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"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 30 seasons (as of 2019) 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 La Rochelle on 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.


In 2019, a spin-off called Boyard Land was launched.

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).
  • Adaptational Villainy: Downplayed with the Père Fouras. In earlier seasons, he simply was a member of the Fort who rewarded the contestants with a key or a clue if they successfully answered his riddles. In the latest seasons, he's presented in the plot as the main antagonist: The man who created the game in order to prevent the contestants from "stealing" his money. (It's worth noting here that the aforementioned contestants play for charitable associations). He also sometimes enjoys trolling the contestants. Of course, he's still fair-play enough to create games that are winnable and to reward the winners.
  • 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 candidates' 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 candidates themselves.
  • Arrowgram: This is how Rouge signals the start of her (out-of-chrono) challenge, by shooting an arrow on fire with a scroll on the next cell door.
  • Ascended Extra: Père Fouras. While he's always been one of the symbols of the Fort, he used to be a mere Trialmaster in earlier seasons, appearing two or three times an episode to ask a riddle. Later seasons turned him into the master of the Fort and the closest thing the game has for an antagonist, giving him plenty more appearances, as he is the one giving each new trials and presiding the challenges with the Masters of Darkness.
  • Ascended Fanboy: Francis Lalanne was a contestant on the show in 2005. He was such an enthusiastic candidate and the episode in which he appeared grew so famous that they simply had to hire him as a Trialmaster. Thus "Narcisse" was born, and became the sole professor at "Boyard Academy" in 2018.
  • Audible Gleam: A constant with Cyril Gossbo's Twinkle Smiles. Most of the jingles of the "Slaime" challenge use the same audio effect.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Chez Restaurant: Chef Willy's challenge is naturally called "Chez Willy". Though it can hardly be called gastronomic...
  • 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.
  • Cool Helmet: The Masters' tiger helmets.
  • Cool Old Guy: Père Fouras is a wise old man sporting a nice Wizard Beard.
  • 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), natt#333;, 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), 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 tomato sauce fabric, the 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".
  • 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 another challenge at a high altitude. Also present in several challenges and ordeals involving mice, snakes, spiders, insects...
  • Failed a Spot Check:
    • It happens that a candidate 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 candidates 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 percussions, violin or xylophone), but its most triumphant and iconic part is heavy on the brass.
  • Fanservice:
    • The cylinders. They 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 was Miss France 2012), whose outfits have grown increasingly revealing over the seasons. Lampshaded by Narcisse during her intro, complete with Male Gaze.
  • Forging Scene: The intro to the 30th anniversary season includes a scene of Père Fouras having the 9 keys of the treasure room forged.
  • Friend to All Children: Rouge, of all people, in order to humanize her and make her seem less like an outright villain. During the 2018 season, she "adopted" a bunch of kids who also happen to be professional athletes to serve as her champions during her challenges. They have a much better record than her previous champions.
  • Game of Nim: One of the challenges against the Masters of Time involves one.
  • Genie in a Bottle: The 2019 edition introduces Magik (Magloire), the genie whose lamp derived on the ocean until it reached Fort Boyard. Freed by Passe-Muraille rubbing his lamp, the genie pledges obedience to Père Fouras in gratitude, and offers him an Elixir of Youth (or a haircut). Instead, Père Fouras asks Magik to protect a key in a new challenge, "The Fakir".
  • 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.
  • The High Queen: Blanche is presented as the graceful ruler of the Fort.
  • 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.
  • 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 candidates' knowledge in the Boyard Academy... while doing the absolute minimum of effort himself. And usually taking a little nap right afterward. When outside the watchtower, he moves around on a motorized bed.
  • Little People Are Surreal: Passe-Partout, Passe-Temps and Passe-Muraille are silent dwarf assistants because of this trope.
  • 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), 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.
  • Odango Hair: Maï-Linh, one of the Fort's Children, is a Karate fighter sporting this Chinese hairdo.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 a case of Good Is Not Nice or Above Good and Evil. Not to mention she has a snake motif.
  • 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.
  • Red Eyes, Take Warning:
    • Rouge has red eyes and is one of the most antagonistic persons in the Fort.
    • Magik's eyes glow red at the end of his introduction, to remind us he isn't a nice genie.
  • 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, and some of Narcisse's challenges.
  • 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".
  • 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.
  • Self-Deprecation: The character of Narcisse is a caricature of his Real Life actor, singer and songwriter Francis Lalanne.
  • 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:
    • Between her bow, her braid and her clothes, Rouge brings in mind Katniss Everdeen.
    • In 2018, a new character called "Megagaf" is introduced. He's a superhero parody, but wears a costume rather similar to Bob Parr's. Also, his intro song is modeled over the one from the French version of Choudenshi Bioman (or its well-known parody, Biouman, by Les Inconnus).
    • Narcisse is both a self-parody of Francis Lalanne, and a reference (in terms of his outfit) to Gilderoy Lockheart.
  • 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.
  • Spiders Are Scary: The "Doll House" challenge involves picking up live tarantulas and removing small notes tied to their undersides to decipher a code.
  • 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 an arachnophobe 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.
  • White Void Room: The throne room where Blanche challenges the candidates is bathed in white light with no walls visible.
  • Wizard Beard: The Père Fouras sports a long white beard and he looks like a mysterious sorcerer.


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