Take the Tower



Dolph Lundgren


TwoFour for ITV4, 25 September to 30 October 2018 (6 episodes in 1 series)


A team of four action movie fans try to beat Dolph Lundgren at his own games.

Over the course of an hour, they'll use a lift to ascend a skyscraper. Success will keep the team together, and potentially win a trip to New York. Failure will result in someone taking a quick trip up to see Dolph in the penthouse, and then an even quicker trip down as he pushes them out of the window.

Leave. Now.

The challenges are high-octane physical stunts. Dangle from the roof, and try to work around a room without touching anything on the floor! Make some antidote to a toxin so deadly you're in a hazmat suit! Crawl around the air vents and distract guards!

Everything is properly spectacular, designed from the start to make good television. And the challenges are properly hard, only a good team will succeed in the limited time allowed.

Just hangin' around.

All of the challenges are based on familiar ideas from action movies. Interspersed are some trivia questions, all rewarding knowledge of action movies (which films has this actor appeared in, remember the title from some key words, that sort of thing.)

Take the Tower could be stuffy and nerdy about its subject matter. The show has chosen to be inclusive, those of us who don't know the first thing about Hollywood action movies will still find plenty to watch and enjoy.

The endgame is to shoot the right coloured figure.

And we don't just enjoy the challenges. Take the Tower has a clear and coherent design, right down to the typeface used. The good guys are dressed in black, because that's action movie cliche. There's plenty of humour, and Dolph Lundgren is happy to make himself the butt of the jokes.

Longer challenges allow the team to demonstrate their own relationships and explore their own dynamics. Wild Things did the same trick in similar bizarre circumstances, but we never get that insight from the shorter games on The Crystal Maze.

Take the Tower was a high-concept and relatively high-budget show. It bombed in the ratings, for reasons unrelated to its quality. ITV4 chose to air the show in a block of new commissions, at 9pm on Tuesday. Three problems became apparent: 1) The Great British Bake Off was pulling in much of the casual audience. 2) The target audience of young men was interested in Champions' League football. 3) When did ITV4 ever make anything new and entertaining? It's the channel of Kojak repeats and Tour de France cycling. As a result, viewing figures were flimsy.

A shame: this very strong show deserved a wider audience - or indeed any audience.

Theme music

Verbal Vigilante Music Ltd


Aired as part of ITV4's "Chooseday" strand of original programmes, alongside Football Genius and inventions show Made in Britain.

See also

Weaver's Week review


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