Game Show Memories – The Krypton Factor first and final series comparison.

The Krypton Factor was a long-running success for ITV. I was pleased when some editions from the first series in 1977 turned up online recently, making it possible to do a comparison piece. Now before you all start, I know that the final series of the original run wasn’t in 1993, but the 18th series in 1995 was hugely different to the more familiar format, and I’d rather forget it all happened really.

Scheduling. First series. Shown on Wednesdays at 7pm, and curiously, was just about the only primetime show on ITV that didn’t have an advert break. Final series. The show was now settled at Mondays at 7pm since 1980, and I’m fairly sure that the 17th series was the first to contain an advert break.

Opening sequence. First series. There wasn’t much of one really. Just the show’s title appearing on the screen, before the contestants were introduced with captions. The futuristic-sounding music (by 1977 standards) was by Mike Moran, and used until 1982. Final series. The familiar green and red “K” symbol wasn’t introduced until as late as the 10th series in 1986. The current opening was introduced in 1992, with the contestants now introduced by voiceover, and accompanied by a remix of the theme by The Art Of Noise also introduced in 1986.tkf1

Set design. First series. Rather plain and sparse. Not much beyond the contestants’ chairs, the monitors behind them, and the very much analogue scoreboard. There doesn’t seem to be much evidence of a present studio audience though. Final series. This was a show that always aimed to use the latest technology, and the studio was now very shiny and blue. It still featured the chairs and monitors. tkf2

Gordon Burns. First series. Gordon had hosted various news shows before this. They didn’t even give him a desk to sit at. Final series. Gordon hosted the first 18 series, and by this point he was even credited as being among the team who designed some of the puzzles. He went on to host further game shows including A Word In Your Ear and Relatively Speaking. tkf3

Contestants. First series. People aimed to be the United Kingdom Superperson. The champion’s trophy was an unusual metal sculpture that was able to detect pieces of kryptonite. It’s rather surprising how many computer programmers seemed to take part, even in those days. The scoring system was ten points for first place, six for second, four for third, and two for fourth. There were 11 editions with eight heats, the winners went into the two semi-finals, and the top two in those progressed to the final. Final series. They now played for a gold trophy in the shape of an athlete. The scoring system was the same, and now revealed on a computer-generated scoreboard. They also wore colour coordinated polo shirts. There were 13 editions with three groups with three heats. The heat winners and highest-scoring runner-up went into the group final, and the winners of the group finals and highest-scoring runner-up in those made the final. tkf4

Mental Agility. First series. This was occasionally played as the first of five rounds, alternating with Intelligence. Contestants put their headphones on to hear clues and had to make the right choices, or give answers in a knockout format. Final series. The first of six rounds, contestants stood on a spotlight and were asked testing questions for 40 seconds, their correct answers converted into points. tkf5

Physical Ability. First series. Round two. Contestants were given a handicap. There were various obstacles which took just over a minute to complete in sometimes rather tricky conditions. Gordon provided commentary. Final series. Round four. Again there were handicaps, and there were now 20 tough obstacles, including the famous water slide. Surprisingly, they still wore no protection like helmets. tkf6

Personality. First series. Round three. Contestants had to perform a script they had written on a subject given to them to camera for about 30 seconds in one take. An independent panel then voted for their favourite. Final series. This round probably not surprisingly was dropped after the first series.

Response. First series. The round didn’t feature at this stage, being introduced in 1986. Final series. Round two. The plane simulator had been used for a long time by this point, but that’s because it was determined to be the ultimate in hand/eye/foot co-ordination. Again, Gordon provided commentary. In the final, they had to land a real plane. Crikey.

Observation. First series. Round four. Contestants are shown about a minute’s worth of a film, and then they are asked three questions on what they saw and heard for two points. There was also an identity parade featuring nine people. Spot the one who was in the film for four points. Final series. Round three. They now watch a short sketch specially made for the show. There are then five questions with four options, they select their answer by pressing the button on their keypad as quick as they can. The identity parade had long gone.tkf7

Intelligence. First series. Played occasionally as round one. Contestants had to complete a logic puzzle with various shapes in about 2½ minutes before the buzzer, although this seems to be slightly deceptive, as the round was more likely edited down to 2½ minutes for TV. There was also some bleepy background music. Gordon provided commentary. Final series. Round five. The puzzle solving was the same, but there was now no time limit as such, or background music. tkf8

General Knowledge. First series. Fifth and final round. Questions on the buzzer. One point for a correct answer, one deducted for an incorrect one. There was no fixed time limit, but the round usually lasted three minutes. Every question had a link to the previous one. The camera awkwardly zoomed in as the contestant gave their answer. Final series. Sixth and final round. Still questions on the buzzer, but there was now a fixed time limit of 75 seconds, and it was two points for a correct answer, and two deducted for a wrong one. Everyone was now shown close-up too. tkf9

More TV Memories – Terrahawks.

Terrahawks (ITV, 1983-1986)

This is another one from the 80s that I don’t remember from the time, but I found out enough about the show to decide I wanted to feature it here. There are a few reasons I became interested in Terrahawks. Firstly, it’s another science-fiction show that was created by Gerry Anderson and features puppetry in a similar style to the earlier and very successful Thunderbirds.

Then there’s the scheduling. This is another one that, just like ALF and The Smurfs, only ever seemed to turn up on LWT in the afternoon when viewers least expected it. But as we’ll see there’s another reason that attracted me. Terrahawks was set in the year 2020 (!), and Earth is somewhat in trouble. Aliens including Zelda are trying to take over the world, and there are only five people who can come to the rescue. vlcsnap-01038

They were led by Dr Tiger Ninestein, and the crew also consisted of Captain Mary Falconer, Captain Kate Kestrel, Lt Hiro, and Lt Hawkeye. Between them they are able to access various vehicles including cars and planes and use the latest technology when they are needed in an emergency. Also featuring are the Zeroids, small spherical robots full of flashing lights and twinkling eyes who always have something to say about the situation. vlcsnap-01036

I’m very grateful that they saved the world of course, but this wasn’t the highlight of the show for me. Kate Kestrel took some time off from zapping aliens and also had a side career as a famous pop star. We often see her in the recording studio at the keyboard working on another guaranteed discobuster. Kate also performed concerts to excited crowds, and her hair changed colour in every episode. This is another show that unexpectedly contains a blue-haired pop star from the 80s. Well that’s great! vlcsnap-01034

Her career was on the up, with her poster on every wall, and a huge fanbase, her song “SOS” was even released as a single, and they found some woman to play Kate with bright pink hair in the video. Incredibly, it flopped. Every episode ended with the Zeroids and Cubes playing Noughts And Crosses, and there was a different outcome every time. The combination of all this is very enjoyable. vlcsnap-01031

There were 39 episodes of Terrahawks in three series. The show featured regularly in Lookin, and characters hosted CITV in October 1984. Many episodes were released on VHS in the 80s, along with a computer game and an annual. The show has been released on DVD by Network in a generous nine-disc boxset. There are a large amount of extras, including features on the special effects, some audio episodes, as PDFs of scripts and the annual.

More TV Memories – Movies Games And Videos.

Movies Movies Movies (ITV, 1991-1992ish)/Movies Games And Videos (ITV, 1993ish-2003)

This is a show that has been classed by some as the ultimate in cheap daytime TV, but as it is remembered by many including myself, I might as well feature this one. The show started out in 1991 as Movies Movies Movies, although I don’t think it was related to the ITV Night Time show Cinema Cinema Cinema. This was simply a showcase for the latest films at the cinema, featuring a few promotional clips and interviews.

Around 1993, the show was retitled Movies Games And Videos, when it was expanded to feature films that were available to buy or rent on VHS, along with computer games (from the Sega Mega Drive and Super Nintendo era, moving into the start of the Sony PlayStation era). I doubt that the analysis would’ve given anyone on Channel 4’s Moviewatch or CITV’s Bad Influence a run for their money though.

There was no in-vision host, everything was introduced by animated sequences (usually consisting of a roll of a film with a picture of a mouse or skull on it), accompanied by the cheery voiceover of Steve Priestley. There would also be a few other features including a look behind the scenes of films, news updates, charts, along with competitions where you had to answer a very easy question to win a prize.

I also remember that the captions for the films originally featured an animating BBFC symbol (sorry, that is probably the most boring observation that I have ever made on this blog, I can only apologise). Movies Games And Videos was usually shown on ITV on Saturday afternoons following The Chart Show for what seemed like years on end, although it varied from region to region. I think there was a late-night repeat sometimes too.

The show also had an unexpected moment in the spotlight in Christmas 1993 (which fell on a Saturday) when ITV rather famously practically gave up with the Christmas Day schedule, and they showed Movies Games And Videos in its usual afternoon slot as if it was any other Saturday. They didn’t try that again. There was also a short-lived spin-off magazine, but I don’t recall ever seeing it in the shop.

The show vanished off LWT around 1997, and I was very surprised when I discovered that some ITV regions contained to show Movies Games And Videos in various timeslots until as late as 2003. I feel as if I have missed out somewhat. After his time as host finally came to an end, Priestley then went off to the land of local radio and more voiceover work.

CITV Memories – Supergran.

Supergran (ITV, 1985-1987)

This is another show that was popular in the 80s. Who would’ve thought that some old woman could turn into someone so powerful that they could rival Superman? Well that’s what happened in this one. Supergran was based on a series of books, the first one was published in 1978, and the TV version launched in 1985. The show also had a memorable opening animated sequence, and the theme music became a hit single.

One day, a granny is walking along in the quiet town of Chisleton, and is accidentally hit by a magic ray from a machine being used by Inventor Black. And now, despite being about 107 years old, Supergran can jump high and run quickly, and becomes an unlikely hero! Now that’s impressive. The main villain in the show is The Scunner Campbell along with his useless team, whose plans never succeed. vlcsnap-00547

Every episode also featured a rather deep voice that introduced the story, the kind that you’re more likely to hear on those “critics are saying that if you don’t think that this is the greatest film ever made then you’re a total moron”-style trailers. Also featuring were a few children, including Supergran’s grandson, and there were some vehicles too that could fly, accompanied by some fancy special effects. vlcsnap-00589

These heroics definitely caused a big stir, leading to lots of fame for our tartan-wearing star, including appearances on the covers of Lookin, and more impressively, the Chisleton Bugle. The show was also enhanced by a huge amount of guest appearances from famous faces, including comedians such as Spike Milligan, along with many pop stars and sportspeople joining in. vlcsnap-00590

There were 27 episodes of Supergran in two series, including an hour-long Christmas special in 1986. The show was originally in a Sunday afternoon slot, although it seems that there were some episodes later repeated on CITV. There was also an episode shown as part of the Old Skool Weekend, and Supergran took control of the CITV spaceship in May 1985. vlcsnap-00657

There were some plans for a third series, but Tyne Tees only had enough money to make this or some more editions of Chain Letters, and well, people just can’t get enough of their daytime word games, so it was bad luck. There was also an annual featuring Supergran released, along with more books, and some computer games that weren’t very well received. All of the episodes have been released on DVD by Network.

The Comedy Vault – Adrian Mole.

The Secret Diary Of Adrian Mole Age 13¾ (ITV, 1985)/The Growing Pains Of Adrian Mole (ITV, 1987)

This is another show that I don’t remember much of from the time, but because I am always interested in discovering quirky shows, especially from the 80s, this seemed to be another one that was worth a go. The character of Adrian Mole was created by Sue Townsend, and he first appeared in the early-80s, and which point he was called Nigel Mole, although this was soon changed because there was a similar character around at the time called Nigel Molesworth.

I must admit that I haven’t read too much of the books, but I know that they have been consistently popular, and he came to TV in 1985. Adrian is at the age, where, to use a euphemism, he is beginning to discover the world around him. To put it a little more bluntly, he is starting to think about girls, and is wondering why they are now making him go all tingly down there. Whatever could it all mean? vlcsnap-00501

Adrian realises that one girl inparticular is doing this to him, his classmate Pandora. Indeed, the theme music was “Profoundly In Love With Pandora”, which was a hit single for Ian Dury in October 1985. He decides to keep track of all this in a diary, which has as much doodling on the pages as it does writing, where he tries to make sense of late-20th century Britain. Being able to write things down gives him an opportunity to help him through all this, and he is fond of writing poetry too. We are also able to hear his inner thoughts. vlcsnap-00491

Adrian lives in Leicester and we meet a few other characters, including his parents whose marriage is in trouble, the elderly Bert who he befriends, and his school friend Nigel. Adrian doesn’t really like going to school, he’s not that popular, all he wants to do is try his best to be an adequate pupil. You could say that the awkward time in life of becoming a teenager hit him harder than most. Pandora has a pony, and all he’s got is spots and a hole in his sock. It’s just his luck. vlcsnap-00486

Adrian was played by Gian Sammarco, who after this did a little more acting along with some TV presenting, but he had left the screen by the early-90s. The first series was much acclaimed, opening with an hour-long episode, and also around this time there was a stage show, a computer game, and plenty of parodies, which all helped to keep the sales of the books healthy, and proof of the success was that suddenly people were trying to work out their age in quarters. vlcsnap-00442

There were some changes for the second series. Now approaching 15, Adrian has begun to take an interest in politics, Pandora is still giving him those feelings, and by this point he is so angst-riddled he hasn’t realised that his mum has turned into someone else. Now that really is awkward. There were two series of Adrian Mole, they were made on location with no laughter track, and they have been released on DVD by Network, although they contain no extras. vlcsnap-00504

Almost 15 years on in 2001, Adrian returned to the screen in The Cappuccino Years, this time on BBC1. Adrian was now played by Stephen Mangan, who has gone on to have lots more success in various comedy shows over the past two decades. Adrian is now approaching 30, although he is a little wiser he is still rather curious about life, and ultimately he is still rather fond of Pandora.

More TV Memories – Worzel Gummidge.

Worzel Gummidge (ITV, 1979-1981)/Worzel Gummidge Down Under (Channel 4, 1987-1989)

This is a children’s show featuring a popular character that has endured for decades. Worzel Gummidge was created by Barbara Euphan Todd in the 1930s, and he was a friendly but rather dozy scarecrow who featured in various stories. His first TV series was Worzel Gummidge Turns Detective as early as 1953, but this is the most famous one.

Worzel Gummidge returned to TV in 1979, with the stories now written by Keith Waterhouse and Willis Hall. Worzel was played by Jon Pertwee, who appeared in various shows over the years, including Doctor Who of course, and he became fondly known for this role too. Worzel is a scarecrow created by The Crowman who magically comes to life on Scatterbrook Farm and has all kinds of adventures. vlcsnap-00952

He also befriends John and Sue (a pre-Marmalade Atkins Charlotte Coleman). Worzel is rather dirty and smelly, and he also has the ability to change his head depending on his mood, some of these were unintentionally scary. His catchphrase was “a cup o’ tea and a slice o’ cake!”. Also featuring regularly was Aunt Sally, who was a doll, along with Saucy Nancy. Worzel would always fall over at the very end of the show. And in 1980 he even had a hit single! vlcsnap-00957

There were four series and a Christmas special of Worzel Gummidge, that were shown at the weekend rather than on CITV. These did rather well, leading to a stage show, and a repeat run on Channel 4 in the mid-80s, and UK Gold. The first place that I remember seeing this series though was when it was repeated on Carlton Kids, a channel in the early days of digital TV. Oh yes, I did watch that channel. But the story doesn’t end there. vlcsnap-00987

Because six years on from the final episode, Worzel returned to the screen, but now the stories took place in New Zealand. Apart from that, it was more of the same really. Worzel is still having adventures with Aunt Sally, running into trouble with The Crowman, and he befriends two more children, Mickey and Manu. There were two series of this, that were shown on Channel 4 on Sunday Mornings. vlcsnap-00984

There were 53 episodes altogether in both versions of Worzel Gummidge, and all six series were recently released on DVD in a nine-disc box set, watching them again was an enjoyable experience. And as recently as last year Worzel returned to the screen again for some new stories that aimed to win over a new generation of viewers.

More TV Memories – ALF.

ALF (NBC, 1986-1990)

Who would’ve thought that one of the most popular personalities on American TV in the late-80s would be some furry puppet thing? But that’s exactly what happened with this sitcom which was full of science-fiction silliness. Firstly, ALF isn’t the main character’s name, it’s because he is an Alien Life Form, his real name is Gordon (and he is definitely the second-best sitcom character called Gordon after Gordon Brittas).

The Tanners are a very ordinary family, not one who could sustain a sitcom on their own, but all that changes when one day a spaceship crashlands in their garage, and they are fairly surprised to see him to put it mildly, because ALF has arrived from the planet Melmac. Life is not boring now! But he is soon welcomed into their home, because he is a 229-year-old with attitude, and naturally has a smart comment for every situation. vlcsnap-01101

ALF does eventually adjust to life on Earth, even if he does struggle to understand it. The next-door neighbours aren’t aware of the situation, although it is clear to them that something rather strange is happening. Someone who doesn’t befriend ALF though is Lucky the cat, as he likes to eat such things, and his wiggles his ears with excitement upon seeing one. If he can’t eat a cat though, a huge sandwich often makes up for it. vlcsnap-01098

The original run of the show ended with ALF finally leaving Earth like so many unpopular animated baseball-cap wearing canines. There were 102 episodes of ALF in four series (every episode title was taken from a pop song). But would he do it all again? Well yes, because there were two cartoon spin-off series, along with a film. And of course, they made a few quid with the merchandise, including toys that were advertised rather frequently, everybody wanted to hug him. vlcsnap-01102

ALF did fairly well in the UK too. Although it wasn’t ever shown on CITV, the show was considered to some extent to be a children’s sitcom in this country, and it was usually shown in the afternoon on LWT, before moving to Sky One. ALF did make a few guest appearances on CITV though, and he also had the honour of some Lookin covers, which was his aim when he arrived on this planet I’m sure. vlcsnap-01100

Looking back now I suppose it’s rather obvious why viewers fell for ALF’s charms. I don’t think that there has been a DVD release in this country though which is disappointing, because it would definitely be a good move. And I got through doing this piece without making the usual “the puppet had more charisma and personality than the human actors” joke. Well, nearly.

CITV Memories – Mr Majeika.

Mr Majeika (ITV, 1988-1989, CITV, 1990)

This is another CITV sitcom, although as it was made on location and contains no laughter track, it could be considered to be more of a fantasy comedy-drama. Mr Majeika was based on a series of books, the first one was published in 1984. The TV version starred Stanley Baxter, someone who was one of the most popular TV personalities of the 70s, who was making something of a comeback, and won over a new generation of fans.

Mr Majeika is a wizard (but not the wizard from Top Of The Pops) from the planet Walpurgis who has failed his sorcery O-Level for the 17th time, much to his frustration. He is sent to Britland, and lands in the small village of Much Barty which is rather sleepy, although it won’t be from now on. With his suit, bowtie, and big glasses, the locals soon realise that he is somewhat out of place. vlcsnap-01036

He then becomes a teacher as St Barty’s Primary School. He is welcomed by the long-suffering headmaster Mr Potter, and he soon befriends the pupils Melanie Brace-Girdle and Thomas Grey, as unlike most they admire his sorcery and personality. But he also has to deal with the awful pupil Hamish Bigmore, who has caused so many previous teachers a lot of grief. He can do this by usually magically wiggling the sticky-up part of his hair and performing a spell on him, and he is soon put in his place. vlcsnap-01032

All the time, The Worshipful Wizard Of Walpurgis keeps an eye on Mr Majeika, making sure that he doesn’t step out of line, but he simply can’t resist using his spells at school, and the pupils soon realise that there is something rather magical about him. When he isn’t at school, he likes to go around on his bike, and lives in a nearby windmill, trying to learn various new spells. vlcsnap-01033

There were 20 episodes of Mr Majeika in three series, and they were full of enjoyable characters, inventive ideas and charm. The first series was shown on Sunday afternoons, usually before Bullseye. It seems that someone at ITV must’ve been fond of it though because there was then an hour-long special on Christmas Day in 1988. vlcsnap-01034

The second series was shown on Saturday afternoons, it was only the third series that was shown during the main CITV afternoon strand, there was also a repeat run on The Children’s Channel, and the books continued for many years after. Don’t expect a DVD release any time soon though, because as it was a TVS Production, all of the paperwork (and probably the actual tapes of the show too) are now lost at the bottom of a skip somewhere.

More TV Memories – You’ve Been Framed! board game.

You’ve Been Framed! board game (1994)

You’ve Been Framed! has now been going for 30 years on ITV, and it has become well-known for its “home video howlers”, but the peak of its popularity was in the 90s, when the host was Jeremy Beadle. So in 1994 the decision was made to turn the show into a board game. This would come with a 90-minute VHS, where Jeremy would host the game (not in the studio, but seemingly in his front room), explain how to play, and much more.

The game came with various things. Along with the actual board, there were lots of cards, dice, and so on (don’t drop them everywhere), and up to six players could take part. I don’t know how many people really did play the game along with the video, but it was designed to get the maximum entertainment out of the experience. Now I know a little about this, because I used to have the board game myself and remember watching the video. framed0001

First of all, are all of the pieces there? They include the Hee-Hee and Oh-No cards, plus the Fast Forward spinner, counters and camcorders. The basic idea was to roll the dice, go around the board, and the player who didn’t have a camcorder at the end was the winner. People would play the game while the You’ve Been Framed! theme played in the background, and I hope you like it, because you’re going to be hearing an awful lot of it. vlcsnap-00938

When the hooter went, it was time to stop playing, and Jeremy would give another instruction. He would also introduce the Comic Clips, and there 21 of these segments, all recycling videos that appeared on the show, and I am rather familiar with a lot of these because I was a regular viewer at the time, and even taped some editions. All these years on some of these are still rather amusing. vlcsnap-00929

Most of these segments were themed, and after they were shown, a question would then be asked about what happened, so everyone had to be closely observing, as they had 15 seconds to answer. The idea behind the Fast Forward part was that players would spin the wheel to determine a double-digit amount of spaces that they could move, and again there was a clock on this. vlcsnap-00939

Wherever would people land? Would everyone be able to keep up with the pace? At the end, the player who didn’t have a camcorder was declared as the winner. If you didn’t win though, it didn’t matter too much, because you could start again and play the game as many times as you wanted, meaning, as Jeremy always said, next time, the star of the show, could be you.

More TV Memories – Just For The Record.

Just For The Record (Ten, 1988-1989)

In the late-80s/early-90s there were a huge amount of Australian soaps shown on British TV, and most of them were rather successful. But they weren’t the only shows from Down Under that were imported to this country around this time. The memory is a little vague on this one, and it doesn’t even have a Wikipedia entry, but you’ll soon discover why I think it deserves to be featured here.

Just For The Record had a rather similar idea to CBBC’s long-running Record Breakers, as people who had taken things to the extreme all around the world were celebrated, whether they held rather unusual records, had achieved daredevil stunts, or remarkable feats of endurance, in the endless aim to go one better. The hosts in the studio were the rather terrifically-named Garry Who and Louise Wallace. They also did various location reports across Australia and beyond along with additional hosts Brett Clements and Geoff Fitzpatrick. vlcsnap-00673

The show’s symbol was the famous discus thrower statue, which also appeared in the studio as a neon sign. Among the highlights of the show though were the opening and closing sequence, where Garry sang the theme song (“it’s the challenge of a lifetime!“) accompanied by two glamorous women. As it was the late-80s, Garry was wearing a grey jacket with rolled-up sleeves and a skinny tie, and he performed the song as if it was a rather emphatic power ballad. Go on, give it some welly! vlcsnap-00662

There was also a rather weird moment at the end of the song where the two women suddenly vanished and Garry looked around with a rather shocked expression on his face. That’s a way to get viewers’ attention, they don’t make them like that nowadays, it was all rather terrific really. And after a report was shown that featured something spectacular about the biggest or the smallest, and so on, Garry (wearing a horrible sweater) would often ponder why people would do such a strange thing, usually whilst chomping an apple. vlcsnap-00678

As for the scheduling, as far as I can remember Just For The Record was only shown in this country in the CITV Summer Mornings slot in the early-90s, and it wasn’t ever shown in the main afternoon strand. I’m also not entirely sure if the show was originally made for children’s TV in Australia. But – just for the record – this was yet another show that I really enjoyed watching when I was younger.