Jungle Run



Dominic Wood (1999-2000)

Chris Jarvis (2001-2)

Michael Underwood (2003-6)


Yorkshire Television for ITV, 10 September 1999 to 29 November 2006 (92 episodes in 6 series + 7 specials)


Say what you like about Jacques Antoine's biggest creation, but with Fort Boyard he didn't so much invent a show as invent a whole flipping genre and here's yet another tasks 'n' time limit challenge show, and this time it's set in a jungle. Now that IS a shock, isn't it?

Now for anyone who hasn't experienced a task 'n' time limit challenge show before, they're great - there's just too many of them nowadays especially from children's television but none of which are as good as the originals. They work like this: Members of team A attempt to get as many B which will help them (condition B) in the final game (C) by playing and winning various games (D-X) set with various time limits (Y and Z). Sometimes, if chosen member of team A is particularly inept they are punished by not being allowed to help in C but A can buy back said inept member by relinquishing some of B. If people do well in C, probably by collecting lots of B, then they'll win a big prize. Follow, class? Good. Here's an example and we'll be asking questions later:

The show had three hosts over its (jungle) run, and funnily enough, all of them present or used to present on CBBC. Anyway, latterly hosted by Michael Underwood, would guide a team of children across a jungle (Well actually a purpose built set in an aircraft hangar in Nottingham).

The jungle guide would guide the team through a series of challenges where the aim was to collect monkey statues (or bananas in earlier series) which would give them time in the final challenge at the end of the show. Regular silver statues awarded 10 seconds each but one challenge offered a ruby statue which was worth 20 seconds.

And now, my William Shatner impression.

There were a nice variety in games, some of which were quite clever, some of which...not so much.

The Abandoned Camp - The team would have to try opening boxes which had spilled out of a crashed helicopter (complete with skeleton pilot).

Angel Falls - The team would have to swim in a pool to retrieve monkey statues out of sunken treasure chests or sometimes they'd have to swing on a rope swing and grab baskets dangling over the pool or divert water from the waterfall using bamboo pipes into narrow tubes containing statues.

To me, To you, To me, To you.
Still no Nemo down here.

The Pryamid - One team member would have to navigate an underground tunnel maze and retrieve statues. There path would sometimes be blocked by a stone door with a symbol on it. They would call out the symbol via walkie talkie and the other team members outside would help by standing on the corresponding symbol on a series of stone tiles. All in a time limit. Failure to exit in time would result in a lock in.

Winifred calling, I see King Cobra

The Tomb - one player would have to get across said tomb via narrow ledges without falling down in to the pit below. The other team mates would aid them by pushing bamboo bridges through holes in the wall the help them get across.

Let's go through his legs team. What?

The Dark Swamp - The team have to retrieve baskets containing statues while crossing a wobbly rope bridge over said swamp.

Aside from the host of the show. The other jungle inhabitants were Sid and Elvis. Two monkeys who generally caused a nuisance during challenges by throwing coconuts or trying to sabotage the games.

After playing a few of these games. The final challenge was the Temple of The Jungle King.

The team would enter with whatever time they had collected. Once inside there were a series of chambers with a puzzle inside. Each puzzle completed would open the door to the next chamber, each containing a much bigger monkey statue. Going up in value with each completed puzzle.

Wow! A giant picture puzzle. Never seen one like that before.
Rolling, rolling, rolling

The aim was to reach the final chamber and retrieve the golden monkey.

And that's my close-up for the day.

Prizes often included games consoles, mini disc players, watches, video cameras and the Jungle Run monkey teddy bear.

Although the format is (by the production team's own admission) a clone of The Crystal Maze, they took the unwise step of copying it just a bit too far because a major credibility hit is taken by the format in terms of "lock ins". If the kids are too slow on certain games, one of them gets locked in at that location. And Dominic Wood's magic tricks, used as quick throwaway links between the games early on in the show's life, somewhat jarred in this setting too. It's worth mentioning too the coincidence that third presenter Michael Underwood. Was a contestant on The Crystal Maze during one of the Christmas specials.

So, all in all not perfect but it did have good production values, especially given that it's a kids show. The show had a very Indiana Jones feel to it. The spooky tension building music during games was a nice touch. The show was at times on the edge of your seat tense as a team grabbed the golden monkey and had to exit the temple with seconds to spare and at times it was incredibly frustrating when a team failed to complete a four piece giant jigsaw.


Concept by Lesley Oakden


Perhaps surprisingly and perhaps not, Channel 5 commissioned an adult version of the show, Naked Jungle, for naturists with its infamous nude Keith Chegwin. There's something slightly disturbing about that, however it was this version which inspired the childrens show as the same set was used in the early series. This was then later recreated from scratch when the other presenters came along.

Special episodes were often made, including Olympians, young stars of Coronation Street, CITV presenters, and the cast of My Parents Are Aliens.


Unfortunately there are no plans to make any more series of Jungle Run, so it is not possible to apply to be on the show. Sorry!

Web links

Wikipedia entry


Who wants to bet that Ant & Dec are in these costumes
Lara Croft, eat your heart out


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