Any gamer who grew up during the 1990s is likely to remember GamesMaster with a burst of nostalgia. This was the first UK show dedicated to video games and was the best thing on the television when we were kids. Players competed against each other for the coveted Golden Joystick and bowed down to the Games Master, a character who professed to know everything about gaming played by astronomer Sir Patrick Moore.
Further to its success, Sky One commissioned several similar shows from production company Hewland International in 1993 and one of these was Games World. Its main focus was an elimination contest over several different titles and the winners would then go up against characters known as ‘Videators’. Viewers could also ask them for master-classes where they’d be guided through a section of a game they were struggling with.
The series’ most popular Videator was Big Boy Barry, a loveable and larger-than-life playboy portrayed by Alex Verrey. He starred in his own segment originally called Barry’s Joypad and used his screen-time to dish out reviews, cheats and features, often accompanied by his nerdy sidekick Lesley Luncheonmeat. Take a look at the video opposite and you might recognise him as David Walliams in his first television role.
For those who preferred a more feminine touch, there was the opportunity to ask the seductive Games Mistress for advice on game-related queries. Looking back on it now, her title and presentation could possibly have been a little inappropriate but younger-me thought it was awesome a female character had been given a position as an expert on such a show – that was girl power for you in the 1990s.
Games World became the highest-rated British-produced show on Sky One and was beaten only by The Simpsons and WWF Wrestling. Sadly though, the fourth and final series aired in 1998 and this classic programme has now been gone from our screens for two decades. So why am I writing about something so old and which most younger gamers will have never heard of? It’s something to do with the trophy shown opposite.
Competing on the show, surviving the four knock-out rounds and then successfully facing off against one of the Videators gave the winner the right to call this trophy their own and saw them placed on a leaderboard. This was something we all dreamed of and my younger brother and I spent so many hours ‘training’ to become good enough to appear on Games World, although it never happened.
And who made those trophies? It was my very own other-half. Pete did a lot of sculpting in his younger years, and got involved with the show through a friend who had a link to someone from the production company. He used his Games World connection to impress me on our first date and four years later he still has me hooked.
This post is dedicated to Pete in honour of his birthday this week. If he’s reading this, I’d like to wish him all the happiness in the world and thank him for everything he does for me. Here’s looking forward to still playing video games and fighting over the controller when we’re old and grey – there’s nobody else I could want as my player two.