Game Show Memories – Game Show Stars Part 19.

This is someone whose long career has included a few game shows, that are at the more highbrow end of the genre, although one long-running show overshadows the others. Gordon Burns started out as a host of the news in the UTV region. By the late-70s, he had become the host of ITV’s The Krypton Factor, which would run for almost two decades.

This was of course the quest to find the United Kingdom Superperson in a variety of physical and mental tests. What was interesting about the show was that it always moved with the times, and it was always made sure that everything was kept up to date, from the opening theme and set design, to the technology used in the various rounds.

This meant that various rounds evolved, including the flight simulator being introduced in the Response round, and keypads being used to answer multiple-choice questions against the clock in the Observation round, long before Who Wants To Be A Millionaire came along. The Krypton Factor was always seen as a serious show, which really did challenge its contestants.

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Some people considered that this could be a little dull, but looking back, this definitely wasn’t the case, as he would often provide a breathless commentary on the Physical Ability round, especially when the contestants began to fall off the obstacles, and he was also involved in devising some of the tests used in various rounds, always making sure that things remained up to standard.

By the mid-90s, the format of The Krypton Factor was beginning to be a little tired, and this is another example of a show that had a total overhaul, which just hastened the end, it was felt that they were trying to fix something that wasn’t broken, and if viewers wanted to watch people carrying on as if they were on Gladiators, they would watch Gladiators.

After this, he went on to host a few other shows that had a similar idea. A Word In Ear featured celebrity teams who were challenged to show off how well they could communicate with each other in various games, which often had amusing results, and there was also Relatively Speaking, which was essentially a high-tech attempt at a team version of The Krypton Factor, but this lasted only one series.

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After this, he went back to regional news hosting, this time on the BBC in the north west of England. I had wondered what he was up to after the late-90s, not realising that if I had been up north, I still could’ve seem him on TV regularly. The Krypton Factor is still great to watch in repeat runs, and he also approved of the short-lived revival.

Game Show Memories – A Word In Your Ear.

A Word In Your Ear (BBC1, 1993-1994, The Family Channel, 1995)

Around the time that the long-running The Krypton Factor finally began to run out of steam, Gordon Burns moved on to host a similar show, but this time featuring celebrity teams. A Word In Your Ear (which was also co-created and co-produced by Burns) featured several games where contestants had to use their observation and communication skills.

The show featured two teams of two, and celebrities took part including Jim Bowen, Bob Holness, and Leslie Grantham, along with many others having to work together. Occasionally, a team would consist of a married couple such as Paul Coia and Debbie Greenwood, so we really could find out how much they knew about each other and how well they could pass on information, and there was plenty of humour in how well (or badly) they did this. vlcsnap-00515

There were usually five rounds. These included one contestant having to describe the shape of an object, and the other having to draw it on a board and then guess what it is, and there was also a round where one provides commentary on a clip that the other one can’t see, and then they are asked questions about it, so all the important information has to be passed on. vlcsnap-00538

Other rounds included having to piece together a picture of a face from a description against the clock, one where there is a shape and one has to describe it while the other makes it out of building blocks, and one where phrases had to be described using particular words. They would then be marked out of ten by Gordon, and although a winner was announced, there were no prizes, but they all got very excited about their success anyway. vlcsnap-00540

There were about 50 editions of A Word In Your Ear, and the scheduling is rather curious. The first series was shown on BBC1 in a daytime slot. The second series was promoted to a Saturday evening slot, but later editions went back to daytime. The third and final series moved to The Family Channel, the predecessor of Challenge, and some BBC1 editions were repeated in daytime in 1998. vlcsnap-00542

One good thing about the show was that it revealed more about a celebrity’s personality and abilities than most. In 1996, about a year after A Word In Your Ear ended, Gordon returned to BBC1 with a similar series called Relatively Speaking, featuring more communication challenges that also used the latest technology, but this time families took part, and it can almost be considered to be an attempt at a team version of The Krypton Factor. However, there was only one series, and I don’t remember watching it.