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GAMES MASTER

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Games Master - Season 4For the following series Jane announced, "We're submitting the show 'Back to Basics'. We want to get more into detail about the games, which mean longer reviews, news and features. Dominik is a gaming expert, so we're very excited about getting him back. Dexter Fletcher was a great performer, and did a very good job when the show was heavily orientated towards challenges and so on, but we want to get back to a serious look at games." So as Jane said, Dominik Diamond had returned (on account that "Channel 4 threatened to shoot my dog" he says), with the show also adopting a new Producer and Director for the show, Jonny Finch and Steve Wright. However, they weren't new to the show, as both had worked on Series 3 as juniors. Jonny says, "We felt series 3 with Dexter Fletcher had been crap, so having Dominik back (even with his ill-judged "grumpy" persona) meant it couldn't be as bad as that. Also, it was the first show I'd ever produced, or the director had ever directed and the sheer amount of work and effort required meant that we couldn't afford to doubt ourselves."

The show lasted 18 weeks in its Hell surroundings, once again filmed in a church, but the style of the show was changing and indeed so was Dominik, who was transforming into his own unique style. The final show of the series was intended to be a Gore Special of the show that would fit into the normal 6.30pm timeslot, but as Jonny explains, " it was quite graphic and when our immediate bosses at Channel 4 saw the rushes they hit the roof. I remember having a meeting with head of department, Dawn Airey in which we viewed the original cut. It had seemed such a good idea when we were shooting but seeing it in the cold light of day, in a bland Channel 4 office, it suddenly seemed rather difficult to defend as acceptable tea time viewing. To Dawn's credit, she didn't seem too pissed off and suggested a late night slot instead."

So the Gore Special was shown at midnight in January 1994 and later commercially released on video and VCD.

Games Master - Season 5The shows full transformation took place in the next series and this was highlighted even its new title of New GamesMaster: Born Again. The show was set in Heaven and the new classic-style Dominik was accompanied by two gorgeous angels. The challenges were actually better than ever and usually made a show out of one or two challenges instead of the old 3/4. No longer was it a simple 'complete the first level of Mario3 with 200 coins' malarkey, but challenges that would really 'challenge' games players such as Martin Mathers' Virtua Cop challenge (even bettered the following series by him playing two machines at the same time). Added to this a fantastic line-up of co-commentators, reviewers and sketches, this really was a new turning point for the show. And we all have Dominik to thank for it, "It was me. All me. Me me me. Every word, every shot. I even built Derek from a kit."

Derrick Lynch was one of the new faces of the show; co-commentating on Namco challenges and he recalls what it was like working on the show "It was great fun. I never got over the novelty of being on TV and working with all those very talented people. I wasn't very professional because I was too busy laughing at Dominic. He was very clever with the innuendos and jokes on and off camera."

For the first time, GamesMaster was filmed in a studio using a blue-background chromakey effect to feature rolling clips of clouds. This series was certainly different from its original smoke-filled locations with crowds cheering, but it was worth it.
This series exclusively featured the entire N64 games launch line-up, and it was this sort of exclusive material that made this series such a brilliant all rounder. The highlight of this series that has been featured by Jonny and most fans of the series was a feature where Dominik rode the tallest roller coaster in the world.

Games Master - Season 6Series 6 came about in 1996 with a hugely impressive Atlantis set that was built into the same church location that had been used to house Series 4. The series kicked off in style by featuring

'Mario 64' as the first challenge of the series. However, it wasn't for that challenge that the connection between that game and GamesMaster are well remembered - it was the Xmas Quiz Special with the co-commentators and in particular, Dave Perry. It was a show that was to remain a talking point for many years to follow.

The GamesMaster website was also in full force this series (it had kicked off last series, but this series had gained more interest) with all the reviews from the show published on the site, and a message forum for the fans to talk in. An in-depth 'Behind the Scenes' look was taken with GM Magazine Issue 50, which interviewed everyone involved in the series and an absolute stash of photos.

At the time Dominik announced in an interview that he was leaving the show, "Yup, this is totally, definitely, incontrovertibly my last series." as he felt he had taken the show as far as it could go. As did Producer Jonny Finch who comments, "We assumed that series 6 would be the last which is why the last show of that series rather took the piss out of us being cancelled with the "OFFENCEOMETRE" device. Channel 4 were strangely unenthusiastic considering how well it did for them and we always got the feeling we were there on sufferance. The basic fact is that the executives at the channel thought video games were a social menace, Dominik was a loud-mouthed git and the attitude of the show in general was utterly reprehensible." So whilst we were told, albeit in a gag-filled manner, on the final show that it was the end of GamesMaster, nobody was quite sure if it was for real or another of Dom's jokes.

Games Master - Season 7Our suspicions of a new series were confirmed by Dominik himself on the GamesMaster Message Forum on the C4 website and was officially billed as 'The Last Ever Series'. Not that the series was meant to happen - it was by complete off chance that it did says Jonny, "I was working on another show when I suddenly got a call from Channel 4 press office asking me for details on the next series of GM. I told them there was no such thing but they assured me it was in the schedule. A hasty call to the executives revealed that there was indeed a budget and a slot assigned but they had merely "forgotten" to tell us. But by this time it was way too late in the day to make the normal transmission slots. We had to delay the start of the series and so, we agreed to fill just the last 10 slots." So this really was going to be the end of the show. Everyone involved said afterwards that they were creatively burnt out so if there had been more GM then it would have had a new team take over.

After nine normal challenge shows had been aired, the final show was sure to bring many a tear to the eye with a nostalgic look back at all seven series of the show in 24 minutes. Dominik recalls, " I was terrified that viewers would be disappointed at how serious we were being for that closing link, and would revolt because I hadn't used the word 'pants'." And so as Dominik made that final closing statement, the credits rolled with tribute paid to everyone who had been involved with the show over the last seven series. As a final closing shot, we saw full-bodied Sir Patrick Moore get into a taxi and wave goodbye to the show.

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For an in-depth feature at how GamesMaster came about, the making of GamesMaster written by Damien 'Duddyroar' McFerran is now available online and can been seen ( Here )