51 year old Paul Hallsey, the last remaining ‘lock-in’ from the Richard O’Brien era of The Crystal Maze is to be freed after 24 years.
The former Team Captain from Slough has been incarcerated in the show’s Medieval Zone since November 1993 after failing miserably on a simple exercise to blow four pebbles up a bamboo ramp using a rudimentary propeller fashioned from faux animal hide.
Completing the actual challenge in record time, the erstwhile fax machine engineer then proceeded to fumble his crystal as he made for the exit, dropping it directly into the mouth of a conspicuous stone gargoyle that had been creeping up behind him for 4 minutes, earning himself an ‘automatic lock-in’, a quick blast of the blues on O’Brien’s harmonica and the contempt of television audiences across the country.
Selflessly instructing the team to carry on without him, Mr Hallsey was subsequently overlooked in the post-show frenzy as his team went on to win a fun-filled day out, travel expenses not included. Whilst the mistake was quickly identified, show host O’Brien later revealed that the strict rules of the Maze meant Mr Hallsey would have to remain imprisoned at ‘Mumsy’s pleasure’, but vowed to ‘put in a good word for him’ whenever he was in the area.
‘I felt terrible for a while’ recalls deputy team leader and Mr Hallsey’s former fiancée, Jayne Reynolds, who went on to lead the team to victory.
‘I sent motivational messages to his pager for a couple of days until I was sure the battery was dead. I like to think they helped… We’d made a pact to go back and get him of course but as the crystals started rolling in, we began to realise we were in with a real shot at the jackpot. How often does that happen? Should we have let Paul’s incompetence potentially deprive the rest of us of a full track-day at Slough Go-Karting Centre? What would you have done?’ she asks defensively, before seeming to mellow.
‘I’ve moved on with my life but I’m glad he’s getting out. Do you think he’s still got the keys to my Citroën Xantia?’