Sir Trevor McDonald has been announced as the new GamesMaster, taking on the role previously held by Patrick Moore. E4 had already announced the return of GamesMaster after two decades away from our TVs, yet McDonald’s involvement has made a bigger splash than the show itself. The show saw guests compete in a variety of gaming challenges overseen by the titular GamesMaster. GamesMaster contributed to the growing popularity of gaming in the UK during the 90s, perhaps under McDonald, it could do the same again.
To say that the veteran journalist is highly respected would be an understatement. He has presented numerous documentaries and Tv shows and anchored broadcasts both on TV and radio. All of this lends the show the level of gravitas it needs to stand apart from the crowd of TV revivals on air. Casting McDonald has immediately put GamesMaster on the map in a way a presenter from the world of gaming never could. Nothing against Dara O’Briain, but if he hosts yet another show it is hard to get excited about it.
What is needed for the role?
The hosts were usually more involved in the actual minutiae of presenting than the GamesMaster. Robert Florence, Frankie Ward and Ty Logan have been given the hosting roles. Choosing lesser-known hosts with the videogame know-how perfectly complements a big name from outside gaming as the figurehead. During the original run, Patrick Moore played the GamesMaster. Moore playing the role of a disembodied head from the future certainly carried that level of gravitas the show needed. He also wasn’t a figure from the gaming world going in. Moore had previously presented The Sky at Night. Audiences knew him best as an amateur astronomer just they know McDonald for his broadcast journalism.
This is not to say we need him to play the role as stern and detached as Moore. For a modern audience, the show may need to be a little more tongue in cheek. McDonald is certainly able to achieve this and has been effective comedically on shows like Have I Got News For You. His voice, instantly recognisable to anyone in the UK, is perfect for saying a silly line like it’s serious news. Something that strikes the perfect tone for a show about a disembodied head from the future making people play video games.
How to revitalise the format
Casting McDonald as the GamesMaster is a huge step in the right direction. However, there is definitely more work to be done if the show is to be a success. The show needs to modernise and keep up with the current image of gaming, which is very different from the 90s. The show should mirror and celebrate the rise of the UK Esports scene. Adding segments where the very best Esports players in the world play could draw more eyes to the show as well as to Esports.
Obviously, the games need to modernise too, there are plenty of choices there. The focus will likely be on fighting, sports and shooting games. This should help the format stay fast and watchable to the average viewer. Mortal Combat, FIFA and Call of Duty all seem destined to make an appearance. Making some time to showcase a few indie games will help integrate the show into the gaming scene, however. Presenting players with an indie game that works completely unlike anything they’ve played could make an interesting round. Nidhogg, Overcooked and Ultimate Chicken Horse could all provide some light entertainment fun.
The biggest pitfall the reboot needs to avoid is falling into the UK gameshow blob. GamesMaster was always a slightly weird outsider show if it ends up as another vehicle for the same ex-Footlights comics Dave trots out on every single show it is probably doomed. Choosing the right celebrity guests will be key for this. The original show nabbed some pretty well-known guests including Randy Savage, Naseem Hamed and Uri Geller.
Choosing musicians, actors and sportspeople rather than comics will likely be the way to go to help the show stand out. GamesMaster will have to move away from its original audience of teenage boys which could also be achieved through celebrity casting. The original show’s choice of having multiple boxers seems a good start, Nicola Adams and Chris Eubank both make regular tv appearances and current fighters like Josh Taylor could be exciting guests. Tyson Fury and Anthony Joshua are probably too big for an E4 show. However, if GamesMaster returns to its old glory it isn’t impossible since they had Frank Bruno, Prince Naseem and Nigel Benn in the ’90s.
While we wait for the GamesMaster to release we don’t need to wonder if McDonald is right for the role. Instead, we can only wonder ‘how did they manage to get such a perfect choice?’. E4 will broadcast the show over three one hour episodes. If it is successful we might start to see longer series more like the original 90s run.
E4 have not yet confirmed the date for the reboot to begin airing.
Episode uploaded by – Retro Pixels