GamesMaster screengrab Sir Patrick Moore

GamesMaster, then, came along at just the right time to mine these emergent, interlocking seams of youth culture, glitz, and entertainment, and it wrapped the resulting raw goods in a package that was ground-breaking, good-looking, youthful, edgy, enjoyable, informative, funny, and, frankly, cool.

Rough Diamond

The show’s look and feel was a strong factor in its success. Each series took place in a new location (in chronological order: a church, an oil rig, a ‘prison’, hell, heaven, Atlantis and a desert island) and the sets were always immaculately dressed, lit and realised. But, arguably, it was one on-air element, above all others, that was instrumental in the show’s popularity: Dominik Diamond.

We already know that young Harry Hewland was the catalyst for GamesMaster‘s existence, if only by virtue of his own existence. But what many people don’t know is that he was also responsible for the decision to hire Diamond as the show’s host. In a manner of speaking.

Diamond had reached the final 12 candidates to be a presenter on Channel 4’s new flagship late-night magazine show The Word, but didn’t make the final cut. Fortuitously for him – and for us – GamesMaster‘s production team reached out to their equivalents in The Word to ask if they’d auditioned anyone who might be suitable for their new show, and Diamond’s name was put forward. The tape for his GamesMaster audition, in which he commentated on a gaming challenge, peppering his performance with double-entendres about ‘waggling joysticks’, made the production team – and, crucially, Jane Hewland’s son, Harry – laugh so hard that the deal was sealed.

“It was the irreverent sense of humour that gave GamesMaster credibility with its audience: adolescent boys,” Hewland told The Guardian in 2021. “For the kids to like us, we had to be badly thought of by authority figures. Also, we had to be slightly weird, like a secret world they could join in.” It’s hard to read that last sentence without picturing Dominik’s eyes casting a mischievous glint through the round lenses of his trademark specs.

I’m Going Through Changes…

For the first two series of the show Dominik Diamond had the floppy-haired, red-jacketed feel of a Butlins Redcoat revelling in the act of smuggling smut and cynicism over the heads of would-be censors – at half-past six in the evening, no less. Audiences loved him, but Diamond – though he loved the show – wasn’t quite so enamoured with his look. Especially the jacket. When McDonalds became the show’s official sponsor ahead of series three, a combination of ideological objection and dissatisfaction with his own lack of creative control prompted him to hang up the red jacket, seemingly for good. He even filmed a ‘death’ scene for the end of series two.

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