Robert Hampton

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3rd January 2009

Ben Shephard fiddles while Gordon Burns
Posted by at 2.13pm | No responses | Television

When I heard that ITV were trying a new version of The Krypton Factor, I was simultaneously excited and worried. Excited, because this was one of my favourite shows when I was a kid. Concerned, because modern-day ITV is not exactly renowned for its cerebral shows.

The first episode went out on New Year’s Day and is now available to view on ITV’s catchup site.

The good:-

  • The new logo looks good, and they’ve kept the idea of the K animating into the current round’s symbol.
  • The set looks lovely.
  • The Mental Agility round was suitably tough; harder, in fact, than I remember the original version.
  • The intelligence test (assemble a jigsaw with only touch and a mirror-image on a screen) was classic Krypton Factor.
  • The General Knowledge round kept the nice touch from the classic series of each question being linked somehow to the previous answer.

The bad:-

  • Ben Shepherd was OK, but really this is Gordon‘s show.
  • If you’re not going to use the old Art of Noise theme, the new music needs to be something special. It’s OK but not particularly memorable.
  • The show could have done without the contestant interviews at the start, which told us nothing interesting and were just a waste of time
  • “Activate the cube!” WAAAAH! WAAAAH! WAAAAH! WAAAAH! — that’s going to get annoying very quickly.
  • The assault course didn’t really come across well on screen; cutting back and forth between the two “races” made it impossible to follow.
  • No flight simulator round!
  • Perhaps because of the above, the show seemed to be over before it had even begun, although it might also have been thanks to the increasingly common ITV1 “ad break that consists entirely of a couple of trailers then back to the programme”, which meant we were through the whole programme in about 25 minutes.

All in all, the updated version contains enough new gimmicks to keep a 2009 audience happy, while retaining enough classic Krypton Factor elements to remain true to the spirit of the original. There’s also quite a long list of niggles which I hope get sorted out for the second series, but it could have been worse (Celebrity Krypton Factor with David Gest and Tony Blackburn, anyone?)

Mind you, with the terrible scheduling (opposite EastEnders for the entire run!) there might not be a second series. However, with the rough edges smoothed out, ITV could have a minor hit on its hands.

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