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Thoughts about Sport

Burns Night

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A world without Woolworths is one thing. But life without Emmerdale is a bleak dystopian vision that even the most pessimistic futurist would have difficulty comprehending. Slightly overdramatic possibly, but news that ITV is closing its Kirkstall Road studios in Leeds will be sending shockwaves through sitting rooms the nation over. But despite the cutbacks, filming continues and the doors of the Woolpack remain open. And the viewing punters keep pouring in.

However the Sunday night staple of Heartbeart has been told go and put its feet up and have a cup of cocoa: production has been suspended. The plan is to broadcast the stockpile of episodes already in the can and then resume filming in sunnier economic climes. But the denizens at ITV should be wary of prolonging the break too much: sometimes absence does not make the collective heart grow fonder.

The Krypton Factor returned to the screen in January after 13 years and ITV sounded the trumpets in fanfare: “we are taking a brilliant format and bringing it bang up to date with state-of-the-art technology.”

Amazing. My first thought was how this new technology was to be applied to the response round: that part of the show where the contestant was required to land a plane or a helicopter or a space shuttle using a flight simulator. I had visions of some whizzo virtual reality concept where competitors fought against evil aliens in a massive intergalactic scrap. Instead we got nothing. The round was scrapped.

I see no reason why the production team couldn’t have removed the tarpaulin off the old simulator and given her another spin: the response round was strangely riveting and had huge comic potential. I remember sobbing with laughter watching one confused contestant ignore the runway completely and career off into the stratosphere perhaps to an attempt a lunar landing. A laudable, if misjudged, game plan.

The observation round was also entertaining. It was usually based on a specially-made skit starring Tony Slattery or Bob Carolgees or some other god of the televisual pantheon. For the new series they have just raided the ITV archives to use clips from favourites shows of the recent past. I’ve heard there’s a few spare episodes of Heartbeat in case you’re interested.

The assault course has returned as well, and was hyped up as “iconic, menacing and 100% entertaining”. Which is true. If you consider a man slowly climbing up a tree to be iconic and menacing. I’d rate it as 47% entertaining. The lack of physical prowess among the contestants makes it feels like you’re watching a team-building weekend for an insurance company.

The essential problem with the Krypton Factor is that it has been brought back on a budget. It makes you wonder why they bothered. I assume that ITV banked on the original magic of the show adding the requisite lustre without having to throw money at it. It’s slightly like renewing your wedding vows at KFC.

And of course the most ingredient was missing: Gordon Burns. Bring him back and the audience ratings would go the same way as that lady in flight simulator: into orbit.

Burns. Immaculate.

Burns. Immaculate.


Written by harrisharrison

March 7, 2009 at 1:16 pm

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