Full Metal Challenge
Cathy Rogers and Henry Rollins
RDF Television for Channel 4, 2003
Vehicular modification spectacular from the makers of Scrapheap Challenge. 27 teams from around the world converge on a patch of waste ground in the Meridian region, bringing with them vehicles which they have modified to tackle anything and everything (within strict limits, natch). Three teams take part in each heat; the winners progress to the semis, and the winners of those go into the final.
Each contest has four rounds, starting with Tenpin and ending with Sumo, with the two between chosen approximately at random from the remaining seven available (well, six really, as one is held back for the grand final).
Ten Pin: The teams drive their vehicles at a giant set of skittles. Simple as that, really. Maximum points for the team that knocks down the most. The invariable opening game in the heats.
King of the Hill: A hill-climbing challenge. All three teams start at the same time. They have seven steep mounds of earth to climb in their vehicles and the aim is to knock down the flags at the top of two of the outer mounds, then ascend the giant central mound. The clever bit is this: Each team has one mound all to themselves, and one shared with each of the other team. So the trick is to get to the top of at least one of the shared mounds before the other team does. And try not to get stuck.
Pitball: Giant football. With cars. The three vehicles are in a circular arena with raised sides, a giant flaming ball is pushed into the centre, and each team tries to manouevre it up the side and out, or at least prevent the other teams from doing so.
Bumper Cars: The vehicles drive around a slippery arena in which are placed some, sort of, beacon-type things. The aim is to score points by ramming becaons while they're lit up.
Hall of Mirrors: Basically just a big maze.
Rollercoaster: The teams drive their vehicles around an obstacle course vaguely resembling a giant Scalextric set-up. There's all sorts of tricky bit and pieces along the way including a see-saw, a three-way tilting table, sharp bends and water being poured all over the driver. Excellent!
Wetropolis: Giant obstacle course - that just happens to be under three feet of water.
Sumo: The finale. The two vehicles that remain face off and attempt to push each other out of the sumo circle.
The Grand International: A super-tough off-road course, held back for the grand final.
After the first three rounds, the team with the fewest points are eliminated, and their car goes into a giant furnace. Well, the car is towed toward the furnace and some pyrotechnics go off, anyway. No doubt they only do this so that Channel 4 don't have to pay for the cars to be shipped back to their countries of origin, but it provides a nice visual motif anyhow.
Overseeing all this are Cathy Rogers and Henry Rollins (the latter chosen, according to the former, because "I just thought, who would look good striding around a wasteland? It's as simple as that."). They're a good team, with Rollins being hugely, hilariously over the top, and leaving Rogers frequently on the verge of corpsing. Shame they never got to make a spin-off christmas single, though.
Aquaholics (UK) (Adam Russell Kyte, Martyn Pitman & Tony Stankus)
The Japanese interpreter whose irrepressible enthusiasm pretty much upstaged all the actual contestants.
'Tis Cathy Rogers herself.
Channel 4 show site via archive.org