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.
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.
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.