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GAMES MASTER

TV SHOW

     
 
 
 
                       
GamesMaster - Season 1
GamesMaster
Season 1
 
GamesMaster - Season 2
GamesMaster
Season 2
 
GamesMaster - Season 3
GamesMaster
Season 3
 
GamesMaster - Season 4
GamesMaster
Season 4
GamesMaster - Season 5
GamesMaster
Season 5
GamesMaster - Season 6
GamesMaster
Season 6
GamesMaster - Season 7
GamesMaster
Season 7
GamesMaster - Gore Special
GamesMaster
Gore Special
   

Overview

It was back in the dawn of the 90's that Jane Hewland first saw the potential of videogames being played on TV. Indeed, it was upon buying a Nintendo Entertainment System for her son Harry that she came across a game named Duck Hunt and would often play it after he had gone to school each day, enthralled at the amusement and entertainment that it provided. This was inspiration enough says Jane "Obviously consoles link up to your TV so I quickly realized I was looking at a game being played on TV and enjoying it. Therefore games could make good television."

I suggested the idea to a number of commissioning editors, but no one British could see it. It was weird going to computer games shows with my son, watching kids pull handfuls of twenty pound notes out of their pockets to snap up the latest games, and yet it was like this underworld that no one in TV realized existed. This is often the way with TV. Television executives, being educated middle class professionals in the main are almost always two years behind what the rest of the world so doing."

So whilst the potential was there to create something fresh and original in TV, it was an increasingly hard concept to sell. However, it was at Channel 4 where the Commissioning Editor for Sport, Mike Miller, also realized the potential and commissioned a pilot of the show to be made. Jane says, "The pilot was absolute crap. But it helped us realized what not to do. I brought on two young men I'd worked with at LWT, one to direct and one to produce. Cameron McAllister and Adam Wood. Both quickly became obsessed with games. The only format I gave them was that it would be half an hour long. I wanted games challenges, reviews and game playing tips. And I wanted a half human half electronic host - the Games Master - from whom the show would take its name. They discovered

Dominik Diamond and Cameron had the idea to use Patrick Moore as GamesMaster and to set the show in a church and subsequently on an oil-rig."

Games Master - Season 1So with a pilot show created, the shows structure sorted and the presenters chosen, it was in July 1991 that GamesMaster was first announced as the worlds first ever television show dedicated to video games. At the time, Jane said "It has been frustrating at times. As the mother of an 11-year-old son, I could see quite clearly the enormous growth in popularity of video games, and therefore the potential for a TV series. At the time we were developing our series, I was terrified someone else would spot what we had spotted and move in ahead of us. But we were lucky and Channel 4 have been fantastically supportive. They always said they would commission the series as soon as they could find the funds and they have kept their word."

As the anticipation grew over what was to be something the likes of which had never been touched upon before on TV, the show was filmed quietly in November 1991 in a derelict church that would provide the perfect atmosphere for the show, with its pulsating smoke and effective lighting. A total of eleven shows were made for the series, filmed all in the space of a week. So after Christmas had finished and the holidays were over, it was at 6.30pm on Tuesday 7th January 1992, that we got to see this brand new show.
The show was received extremely well and Channel 4 commissioned a new 26-week series that was to be broadcast in less than five months. "Seeing as Series 1 was a huge ratings success for Channel 4, they gave us more money and more episodes for Series 2 which is why it looked so much more spectacular. We were able to go to a Thames Water facility in South West London and make it into an oil rig. Plus we had thousands of fans queuing to come to shows." GamesMaster 2 was to achieve what countless shows since have only dreamt of aspiring to. It was incredible and the popularity of the show in the Top Ten Channel 4 Viewing Figures helped the birth of Future Publishing's GamesMaster Magazine, which was unleashed at the GamesMaster Live! event that had been set up on the TV show.

Whilst it was the ultimate in gaming TV entertainment, the series wasn't enjoyed as much by one person - Dominik Diamond. That was due to one offending item of clothing that has haunted him to this day, the infamous 'Red Jacket'. Today, Dom's only words to describe the sheer terror of the era are "Don't even go there."

Games Master - Season 3Whilst the success of GamesMaster was looking to be spiraling up at a constant rate, the unfortunate news broke that Dom had left the show to peruse other projects. So in was drafted the cheeky cockney Dexter Fletcher who said at the time, "Originally I was asked whether I wanted to appear on the show as a guest and take part in a challenge and I agreed to that but then in the intervening time Dominik left the show and I was asked whether or not I would be interested in taking over. I went in and did a bit of an audition, they liked it, offered me the part, and, well, who says no to GamesMaster?" Unfortunately, Dexter didn't, as I'm sure he, as well as us, curses the day he ever decided to take on the job. Whilst Dexter is a great actor and a great bloke, he just wasn't the right choice of presenter. It really also didn't help by scripting the poor bloke to say such things like "megamongous" and "Oiii, GaymesMastah!". It wasn't just after the show that Dexter got criticism. Dexter recalls, "It was a very unforgiving atmosphere, quite intimidating and just getting up, taking a deep breath and going out there and doing it was the toughest part of the challenge."

However, it wasn't just the presenter that was having problems with the show. Half way through filming the series, Oxford Prison (where the first half had been filmed) was re-opened and obviously this caused a few problems for the crew. They frantically searched for a suitable venue and this was found in the London Dungeons where the ill-fated Team Championships took place. The frantic weekly challenge feel overtook everything else on the show and it suffered as a result. Whilst it worked well on a show like GamesWorld, it wasn't suited to GamesMaster where there was more to the show than simple challenges. The series finale saw Mike Miller (the guy who commissioned the show) award the prizes, but even the atmosphere on set was tense as one of the teams felt they had been cheated out of winning as the other team were given a second chance due to a technical fault. It was the end of Series 3 and the end of Dexter Fletcher's presenting career. However, Dexter did go on to star in Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and the TV drama-series, Band of Brothers.