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GamesMaster was a British television show, screened on Channel 4 from 1992 to 1998, and was the first ever UK television show dedicated to computer and video games.

The show featured astronomer and TV presenter Patrick Moore as the eponymous 'GamesMaster', answering questions about video games from his virtual domain.

Given that his usual field was astronomy and science, how did Patrick Moore come to be the GamesMaster?

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    Dominic Diamond doesn't know; TGS: The great Sir Patrick Moore – how on earth did you guys persuade him to play the pivotal grumpy cyborg-headed role? DD: No idea. I think he was on board before I was. Maybe he auditioned for The Word as well. – user7812 Jul 1 '15 at 20:56
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    Dominic Diamond should have asked 'Movies and TV' stackexchange! :-) – EleventhDoctor Jul 2 '15 at 7:27
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He was a quirky casting choice, pure and simple. Best known for his eccentric attitude and long-standing TV show (The Sky at Night) Moore was also a jobbing TV presenter who'd been on a number of other shows in the recent past, suggesting that he was touting himself around as a "presenter for hire".

In this interview with Eurogamer (entitled Gamesmaster, The Inside Story) we learn how the producer's casting decision was made:

According to Dave Perry, the original plan was to hire a child. "We auditioned a load of kids but we couldn't quite find anyone who had the precociousness to carry off the role," he says. "We started to talk about quirky presenters and someone suggested Patrick Moore. It was the nearest we could get to finding a big baby to deliver the lines."

Watching the show now, it's hard to imagine the role of the GamesMaster being played by anyone else. Moore was the perfect foil for Diamond, rising above his schoolboy antics to bring order and authority to the proceedings. He could be stern as a Willans and Searle headmaster, but there was always a twinkle in his eye. Best of all, he was utterly believable as the fount of all video games knowledge when dispensing tips in the "Consoletation Zone".

"He didn't understand anything of what he was saying," says Diamond. "But he just nailed it. He did everything in one take; he was a machine."

"Patrick was a good sport," says Jonny Ffinch. "He had the general gist that this was a faintly subversive activity. He would pretend not to understand all the double entendres, but he did really."

That being said, it seems that the producers are keen to suggest that his interest wasn't financial:

Director Cameron McAllister, who was so keen to avoid trying to be trendy, was thrilled to have Moore on board. "He was a massive coup because he was as uncool as you could get," he says. "He was hilarious, a completely eccentric old duffer. He was like the Boris Johnson of outer space."

Cynics might assume Moore was only in it for the money, but they'd be wrong. McAllister still remembers the salary negotiation: "Patrick said, 'Ah, yes. Well, I did something before and they asked me what my fee should be, and I told them, and we drank it.' That was his approach - a bottle of whisky."

Moore was never on the set of the live show. His sections were filmed separately over a couple of days and then he and the production team would go out to lunch.

  • As well as being informative, this answer has made me happy! :-) – EleventhDoctor Jul 6 '15 at 6:55

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