Scavengers (game show)

Scavengers was a British TV game show produced by Carlton Television, which aired across the ITV Network. It aired as a two series of 6 episodes the first of which was broadcast on Saturday Evenings at 7:00pm over the summer of 1994. The second series was relegated to daytime viewing in the summer of 1995 typically being broadcast at 9:25am. UK Game Shows - Scavengers There was a single champion of champion episode also broadcast in the summer of 1995

Plot summary

The Commander of the shuttle-craft Vulture John Leslie Stott UK Game Shows - John Leslie leads two teams of Scavengers to the stricken cargo ship Cyclops in an attempt to retrieve salvage. Each team of Scavengers is formed from one man and one woman. One team competes in yellow the other in red and the salvage they are attempting to recover is usually marked with their team colours. The Commander and The Scavengers are joined by a female android played by actress Anna Galvin IMDBwho provides directions and tactical information to the team once the game has begun.

Game Mechanics

Once the teams set foot on Cyclops they have just 51 minutes to explore the ship via a pre-determined route and return to Vulture; any scavenger who fails to return on time is left behind and their teams score is null and void. Along the way the teams face a series of six physical and mental tasks in an attempt collect salvage from Cyclops; each item of salvage having a salvage points value referred to frequently as "sp's". Sp's for an individual item of salvage range from 1sp to 50sp and there are typically 100sp available between the two teams for an individual challenge. Each individual challenge must be completed within a strict time limit otherwise all salvage collected is rendered useless and has no sp value. Twenty teams were divided into two divisions, with each division consisting of five heats and a final. In each heat two teams competed with each other to gain Sp's with their final scores registered on a leader board for that series. The top two scoring teams of the series then competed in the final with much more demanding challenges, the winners from each of the two series finals competed once more to earn the right to become Scavenger Captains.


While on board Cyclops the teams would complete six challenges. All teams competed in Crusher and all heats ended with The Final Abyss the remaining four events varied from week to week.

The Android would introduce each challenge by stating its aim, value and special difficulties. The Commander would often embellish these instructions and seemingly impose his own rules such as making certain events a race or setting a minimum amount of salvage to be collected.


*Aim:Recovery of 10 Fuel Rods from Cyclops waste crusher.

*Value:Each fuel rod is worth 10 Salvage Points.

*Special Difficulties:Crusher activated by Scavenger interference.

*Time Limit:4.00 Minutes


:In this test the four scavengers entered the waste crusher inside which was a large amount of debris typically to waist height, and a full compliment of ten fuel rods. Scavengers had four minutes to retrieve these before the crusher completed its cycle and killed them.

:While it is unlikely that anyone would have actually been left to die in the crusher the moving wall and spinning blades certainly unsettled the scavengers often causing them to leave without collecting all of the fuel rods.

:If a team found more than five of the fuel rods they would still only score a maximum of 50sp, however the other team would still be unable to score the maximum score of 50sp a result.

:In the finals the fuel rods were larger and came in two pieces, only fully reconstructed fuel rods were counted towards their score.

The Final Abyss

*Aim:Construction of a swing to carry salvage across the void. Additional salvage available.

**Existing salvage carried across the void valued at the original rate.
**Two Pulse Barrels valued at 20sp
**Two Fuel Rods valued at 15sp
**Three Ammunition boxes valued at 10sp

*Additional Salvage in Final
**Two Component Crates valued at 30sp

*Special Difficulties:All failed Scavengers will be abandoned on Cyclops

*Time Limit:6.00 Minutes


:In this test scavengers first slid down a rope to a gantry housing the equipment needed to build a rope swing for each team. Construction of the swing involved several time consuming steps:
##The male Scavenger must climb up a large girder several meters long and inclined at a 45 degree angle and attach a carabina and rope to the end.
##The female Scavenger must then winch up the end of the girder to the correct position for the swing to function.
##The male Scavenger then secures an A-Frame to support the swing.

:Once the swing is constructed the male Scavenger swings across ensuring that the swing has one additional rope with him and one left with his partner. This allows the swing to be pulled to and fro with salvage attached. The Scavengers must then use their remaining time to get their existing salvage and any additional salvage across the void followed finally by the female Scavenger.

:Fuel Rods were typically put into the teams existing salvage bags giving them an easy 30 point boost while the remaining salvage could be transferred most efficiently one piece at a time - although several teams attempted otherwise.

:In the final pyrotechnic explosions were used to make the scavengers panic and an alien character attempted to pull Scavengers back into the void after their rope-swing.

Bomb Disposal Chamber

*Aim:Recovery of four detonators from Cyclops' armoury.

*Value:Each detonator is worth 25 Salvage Points.

*Special Difficulties:Bombs must be disarmed and deactivated before salvage is recoverable.

*Time Limit:No Time Limit


:Each team has two attempts to recover a single detonator by trying to lift the plate up from the top of a missile. The plate is held by three tall pins, the centre one being tallest and if the plate touches any of the pins the bomb will activate. The scavengers must, therefore carefully remove the plate and collect the detonator.

:The Commander shows the team a 'dud' detonator that explodes loudly when he throws it out of range. This came as a surprise to the teams and no doubt made the test more difficult. Whenever a team activate a bomb the Commander will quickly remove the detonator and throw it out of range.

:There are no restrictions on how the plate is removed; one team used straps on their uniform to prevent the plate touching the pins.

Solar Tower

*Aim:Recovery of solar cells from base of deep chamber.

*Value:Each cell is worth 10 Salvage Points.

*Special Difficulties:Scavengers must navigate incomplete pulley system.

*Time Limit:Event is a race between the two teams.:Only the winning team will score.:Scavengers must collect at least two solar cells to complete the race.


:The Scavengers begin at the top of a tall tower with the cells illuminating the base. The female Scavengers must abseil down to the bottom of a chain about halfway down the tower and attach her safety harness to the chain. The male Scavengers can then winch the female scavengers down to the base then they flip upside down to grab the cells and place them in net bags.

:The male Scavengers must then winch them all the way up the top of the tower where they can scramble over the railings and back onto the gantry.

:The first female Scavenger with both 'feet on the deck' earns the Sp's for the cells collected; the other team earns nothing.


*Aim:Recovery of two transformers from the Airlock.

*Value:Each transformer is worth 50 Salvage Points.

*Special Difficulties:Airlock code needed to open doors.

*Time Limit:Event is a race between the two teams.:Only the winning team will score.


:As the teams pass through the airlock the doors begin to close at either end. The Commander instructs the female Scavengers to run through the doors leaving himself and the male Scavengers trapped.

::Commander: Android, we're in Airlock and the doors are closing.::Android: Scavengers now trapped, oxygen decreasing.::Commander: Oxygen decreasing! Android, why didn't you tell us?::Android: Because Scavengers would not have gone in.

:The male Scavengers must wire up a battery to their door before describing a series of six symbols to their partners. If the female Scavengers input the correct symbols in a keypad the correct order of these symbols will be revealed. They can now describe these back to their partners who can input their symbols on their own keypad, in the right order, and open the doors.


*Aim:Recovery of four water filtration flasks from rupture chamber.

*Value:Each flask is worth 25 Salvage Points.

*Special Difficulties:Flasks must be floated through pipes by redirecting the flow of water.

*Time Limit:Event is a race between the two teams.:The first team to collect two flasks will end the game but both teams will score.


:The teams begin this challenge working together to fasten the base on to a structure to stop it leaking. Once this is done water will flow up four pipes onto of the structure causing the flasks to float up. Each pipe has a series of holes that must be plugged; the corks provided however are very long and will physically prevent the flasks from rising.

:The solution is to plug the holes below the flask and slowly work up. In practice the teams simply use their hands to close off the holes while a team member reaches down the tube.

Steel Works

*Aim:Recovery of twenty titanium ore nuggets from boxes located high on chamber wall.

*Value:Each ore sample is worth 5 Salvage Points.

*Special Difficulties:Steelworks construction extremely unstable.:Scavengers must hunt as a pack and share salvage.

*Time Limit:6.00 Minutes


:As the team cross a bridge into the steel works a hostile alien shoots down the bridge preventing their retreat. The commander leaves the team on the central platform via the exit bridge but this too is shot down - almost killing the commander.

::Android: Commander should remember the first principle of salvage missions. Scavengers are dispensable, Commanders are not.

:The team, now stranded must use the sides of one of the collapsed bridges as a ladder to climb to a high locker where four boxes are hidden. These must be returned to the team where they can be searched for the ore samples. The boxes contain white packing material along with both golden and silver ore samples; the Scavengers are expected to know or remember that titanium ore is silver.

:The team must now use their makeshift ladder to climb down onto the second broken bridge, now at a sharp angle. From here they can traverse to the finishing platform.


Scavengers can be broadly summarised as summer filler for the Gladiators time slot. Which took inspiration from other popular shows of the day the future zone from Channel 4's the Crystal Maze and the idea of characters rather than presenters from Anglia's Knightmare as well as Sci-Fi films and television series.

Scavengers was hyped quite highly by ITV as a sci-fi adventure game-show; garnering a feature article in several television magazines including the Radio Times prior to its broadcast. The show had incredible production values; the ship interiors were lovingly crafted and detailed, and the CGI "Cyclops" impressive for the time. The musical score written by Peter Griffiths was a particular highlight.

Unfortunately, its games lacked the 'play-along' element that made the Crystal Maze a success, it couldn’t provide the sport-related excitement that could be found in cheering on either contender in Gladiators and it's characters weren't nearly so deep and engaging as those of Knightmare.

Scavengers appeared to be a live-action Space Crusade in many of its pre-broadcast trailers and articles. This meant that the brief cut-scenes featuring the alien inhabitants of the "Cyclops" with the Commander were especially disappointing for many viewers expecting something more akin to Laser Quest on TV. The trailers also made it look as if a Quasar-style game was being brought to TV, but these were only small segments shown between the games, rather than the games themselves.

Scavengers greatest flaw was its own ambition. The alien make up, huge sets and expansive camerawork along with huge volumes of CGI footage had to be done on a game show budget. While it tried to have an epic storyline the 2-3 minutes of plot an episode just wasn't well written enough to keep us engaged and John Leslie's self admitted poor acting skills UK Game Shows - Scavengers did nothing to help it.

However this is not to say that Scavengers didn't have its fans. It joined ITV at a time when Saturday night television was beginning it's now well-documented decline yet it still maintained a loyal fan base allowing it reach 27 in the UK Game Shows top 30 Game Shows poll in 2002 UK Game Shows - 2002 Poll.


During the opening sequence of the show, a voiceover provided viewers with a summary explaining the "Cyclops", the Scavengers mission and the nature of the enemy.

::"The time - the future. The place - deep space. ::Aboard the mother ship Scavenger the shuttlecraft Vulture prepares for take off. ::At the helm Commander John Leslie accompanied by a trainee, rookie squad. ::Their mission - to locate the stricken cargo ship Cyclops; legacy of a long gone intergalactic war."

::"To Scavenge, Salvage and Survive with Honour these are; The Scavengers."

The voiceover was provided by former Man from U.N.C.L.E David McCallum.

Scavengers was filmed on set built at Pinewood Studios.

Perhaps the most famous piece of dialogue in the whole show was when John said "Ever heard my dog impression?" before shooting an alien, then curtly responded "Woof, woof", not sounding like a dog at all.

John would also plead with Android for more time if any Scavengers were abandoned on Cyclops, which she would always refuse.


* [ IMDb website]
* []

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