So we say goodbye to Patrick Moore, one of TV’s longest serving presenters on one of the world’s longest running series, The Sky at Night. His monocled features and his distinctive voice however were famous to a generation not because they stayed up until whatever ludicrous hour The Sky at Night was usually broadcast, but because he helped us cheat at Sonic the Hedgehog. To a 30-somethings like myself, who grew up in the great boom of computer and console gaming in the early 90s, we knew Patrick mostly from a Channel 4 produced show called GamesMaster. It was the only computer game TV show at the time and was hosted by Dominik Diamond from what appeared to be a boiler room usually used to host dodgy raves. Each episode was filled with news, reviews, features and kids playing computer games. And we all know how exciting it is watching someone else play a computer game, right?
But what we really tuned in for was the appearance of the Games Master himself, a cybernetic God-like being, accessorized by a lot of apparently Amiga-generated computer enhancements like a bionic monocle that would sweep in and out of the frame as he delivered hints, cheats, tips and advice on how to beat popular video games of the era. We’d never know in advance which games he’d be covering, so you’d sit poised, hoping he’d deliver you an extra life cheat to help on that that tricky level on Xenon or offer an infuriatingly complicated button bashing combo that would save you from certain doom on Golden Axe for the Master System. He would pop up several times each episode, often signing off with a withering put down or an exasperated sigh that us children were so hopeless as to need his help at all! It all added to the charm of the character and Sir Patrick clearly had an absolute blast, even if what he had to read out probably baffled him as much as the parents watching along.
A lot’s been written about Sir Patrick since his death: his life, his career, his political (or politically incorrect) views but for many reading this, his role as the Games Master will be his most fondly remembered. Like a CGI Santa Claus, he perked up our childhood weekday evenings with gifts of life, immortality or just extra ammo! Something you’d never get from Father Christmas.