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Series / Interceptor

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"Ha ha ha, I like it!"
The Interceptor

1989 Thames Television game show. It only had 8 editions (due to reasons of ITV politics) considered a Cult Classic and turns up in re-runs among the other vintage Game Shows on the Challenge channel every so often. Hosted by Annabel Croft, a former tennis player and star of the not dissimilar series Treasure Hunt, from which Interceptor was a Spin-Off.

In essence, hide-and-seek with a helicopter.

Two contestants (one male, one female) were given two outwardly identical backpacks, each being a kind of wearable strong-box. One was empty, the other contained £1,000, a respectable but not lavish sum in 1989. They were blindfolded before being dropped by helicopter six or seven miles apart in scenic areas of rural Britain, with just a compass and a large walkie-talkie set each. They then had to establish their positions by describing their surroundings to Annabel, navigate across country to find a strategic location where the key to the other box was secreted, and meet up, all within 40 minutes.

Standing (or rather flying, driving, riding and flipping over five-bar gating) in their way was The Interceptor, a blond and angry Scottish dude in black leather Badass Longcoat with an infra-red zapper mounted to his left sleeve. He had twenty shots in it, with each backpack having five separate receivers. One hit on any of them – the box was locked permanently.

The way to avoid this, of course, was not to show your back to him (IR rays not being capable of going through a human body – try it with your TV remote at home), which was harder than it sounds and resulted in unintentionally amusing face-offs.

Two important things to note – the contestants weren't told what The Interceptor looked like (which resulted in something known as the "Derbyshire Tractor Ambush"), and no-one knew if either box was locked until the contestants rendezvoused at the end of the show.

This was one hard game show to win.

This show contains examples of:

  • '80s Hair: Eighties everything. The huge and cumbersome walkie-talkie sets could be replaced by a Bluetooth headset today. At least one contestant commented on the sapping weight of the communications equipment they were having to run around the countryside carrying.
  • Antagonist Title: Interceptor is named after its antagonist character, the Interceptor.
  • Arm Cannon: The Interceptor's "zapper", a military-grade infrared laser. He could take it off, but mostly kept it mounted on his left arm.
  • Black Helicopter: Black and yellow, but mostly black.
  • Briefcase Full of Money: The contestants' backpacks are briefcases - one holds nothing, the other holds £1000. The Interceptor's objective is to hit the IR receptors on the packs to jam the locks, while the players attempt to get the keys to the locks and meet each other.
  • Bumbling Sidekick / Hypercompetent Sidekick: The Interceptor's long-suffering helicopter pilot, the almost entirely unseen "Mikey". In fact tended toward the latter, thanks to his aeronautic skills, but frequently accused of being the former by his belligerent boss whenever a manoeuvre or plan (of the Interceptor's own devising, most often) didn't quite come off.
  • Casual Danger Dialogue: Some of the contestants would engage in this while being actively chased by the Interceptor. One notable example is Claire from episode 6, who even stops to wave at the Interceptor!
  • Catchphrase: The Interceptor's gleeful "I like it!", exclaimed whenever a hunt/ambush/manoeuvre came off.
  • Color-Coded for Your Convenience:
    • The Interceptor, dressed in head-to-toe sinister black including a Badass Longcoat, which coupled with 'futuristic' trappings such as his "zapper" made him look like a sci-fi b-movie Bounty Hunter who'd fallen through a wormhole into the British countryside. This look could, though, be disguised in such ploys as the above-mentioned tractor incident.
    • The players themselves: one wears a blue uniform, the other wears a yellow one.
  • Egomaniac Hunter: The Interceptor plays himself as one, referring to the contestants as various game animals and shouts with glee when he thinks he's zapped them. Actor Sean O'Kane describes his character as being "a wealthy futuristic Viking".
  • Executive Meddling: From the other ITV franchise holders; when Thames proposed a second season, the other regions felt it had too much of the ITV primetime pie. In addition, a new franchise round was coming up and Thames needed to improve its profitability; as the expensive show wasn't produced by them directly, it fell on the chopping block. Thames still lost the franchise to Carlton anyway.
  • Hell Is That Noise: The Interceptor's signature screech, which O'Kane likens to that of a bird of prey.
  • Hunting the Most Dangerous Game: The show is a nonlethal implementation of this trope.
  • Large Ham: The Interceptor, emphatically. Prone to rushing up into the faces of helplessly pinned-down contestants while flapping his leather coat-clad arms like a giant black bat and hissing like a banshee, or screeching like an eagle.
  • Mission Control: Annabel, who only had access to an Ordnance Survey map, the locations of the two keys – which were revealed after figuring out the two starting locations – and audio links with the two contestants.
  • Mutual Disadvantage: The Interceptor was not permitted to touch contestants, so if one were cornered then as long as they could keep their backs up against something, or covered, he might be only inches away yet unable to 'zap' their pack – but at the same time they would be unable to move or turn around until he left them alone again. This frequently resulted in epic (and comical) stand-offs, usually lasting until the Interceptor would get bored and go off to hunt the other contestant in search of easier prey.
  • Not My Driver: The Derbyshire Tractor Ambush's inevitable payoff.
  • Public Domain Soundtrack: The show's theme tune is a cover version of Chopin's Revolutionary Étude.
  • Race Against the Clock: Teams had 40 minutes to get each others' keys and meet up with each other.
  • Real Time: Although filming wasn't done like that (shows would typically take about an hour), the clock ran in real-time and was visible throughout gameplay.
  • Servile Snarker: The Interceptor's much put-upon pilot Mikey, who very occasionally would retaliate to his verbal abuse with surprisingly snarky comebacks when he thought his boss (sitting next to him in the cockpit) was busy enough ranting about something else not to hear him properly above the noise of the helicopter.
  • Stalker without a Crush: Interceptor's out to impede and generally harass the contestants.
  • Supervillain Lair: Interceptor had a series of fairly modest ones for each episode, where he'd be seen doing something (usually tending to animals) while the contestants are being briefed.
  • Vanity License Plate: Three of them.
  • Violent Glaswegian: Not so much violent as highly insulting, but the idea is still the same.