Japan's outrageous 'Human Tetris' show to be remade for the BBC

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A cult Japanese series in which Spandex-clad contestants in hard hats try to hurl themselves though a series of holes in a wall is being adapted for the BBC.

Human Tetris, which is one section of the hit Japanese show Tunnels no minnasan no okage deshita, has been described as "deeply compelling rubbish". The BBC said a production company, Talkback Thames, has bought the rights and was creating a series based on the original. It will be aired on BBC1 this year.

The original Japanese 'human tetris'

The adapted show, Hole in the Wall, involves two teams of celebrities in shiny, skintight catsuits attempting to contort their bodies through a moving hole in a wall. A BBC spokeswoman added that if they failed, "they will fall into water".

The physical challenges change with each episode in the Japanese version, with guests being asked to take part in ever-more outrageous pranks.

The rights were bought from Fuji TV, Tokyo's largest television station, which has made the programme for 11 years and has sold the format to eight other countries. In Italy, producers decided to swap celebrities in Spandex for models in bikinis.

The British show is aimed at a family audience and its launch follows a successful pilot episode made last year.

But despite its seemingly universal appeal – YouTube videos of the Japanese version have been viewed more than five million times in the past nine months – the move is likely to stir debate on whether it strikes a new low for the BBC.

Linda Dryden, a senior lecturer in cultural studies at Napier University, said: "Maybe the issue is a cultural one... some kinds of humour do not carry and homegrown shows seem more in tune with British sensibilities. I'm not sure of the cultural difference in this case. It may be risky."