Retro Respawn – Dominik Diamond on The Retro Hour Podcast Recap

Dominik Diamond currently appeared on episode 223 of The Retro Hour podcast (which you can listen to by clicking right HERE), and I decided to give it a quick recap. I’m a big fan of Diamond’s work, including his great autobiography “Celtic & Me”, so the chance to listen to him retelling stories from the 90s was an attractive prospect. I’ve not included everything said in the interview, so if you like the sound of what’s included here, then feel free to give the entire episode a listen by clicking the link in the first sentence.

Dominik currently has a show on Twitch that airs at 5 PM UK time from Monday to Friday where he recounts old stories and has fun with the people in the chat. He says he still doesn’t really understand the internet and reminisces about a GamesMaster episode from the 90s where he said there was nothing good on the net.

• Dominik talks about moving to Nova Scotia, Canada to run a llama farm because he thought the UK was becoming a nastier place, thanks to his own experiences of being an upfront Celtic fan in Glasgow. After being attacked by a gang one night, he decided to move to Canada. I think most of us would think similarly if we found ourselves in the same situation. The farm, sadly, didn’t pan out, so he went back into broadcasting and basically started his career from scratch in Canada.

• Regards to retro gaming, Dominik says that his mum brought home a ZX Spectrum one day so that the kids could learn how to word process, but it wasn’t long until it pretty much got used solely for games. It got so bad, in fact, that each child was limited to one hour a day on the machine. “Horace Goes Skiing” and “Penetrator” were the first two games they had, and Penetrator even had a rudimentary level designer that would often lead to them breaking the game by putting too much on-screen.

• Dominik thinks games are too cynical today due to things like patches and microtransactions. He ponders how much game makers in the 80s actually made over here in the UK. He feels sad if they made less than he currently does from Twitch!

• Dominik studied at Bristol University from 1988-91, and he loved the city. He talks about it having a vibrant music scene, not unlike what Manchester had around the same time. Dominik knew David Walliams and Simon Pegg at university, and the three would do comedy gigs together. Jason Bradbury was around at the time as well, and Dom pays tribute to his use of physical comedy, although he does lament his bongo playing ability.

• Pegg used to do a lifeguard poet act that sounds incredible where he would read poems but stop occasionally to tell off the audience for heavy petting. Dominik says that he thinks it was impossible for Pegg to not be funny and adds that he’s also a nice guy. He has less nice things to say about Walliams though. They fell out due to Walliams showing up with Matt Lucas to ruin Dominik’s live show called “Night O Plenty”. I think all of that is up on YouTube, actually, and Walliams was definitely out of line.

• Onto GamesMaster where Dominik says that producer Jane Hewland got the idea of doing the show thanks to her son’s love of video games. Essentially, she wanted to make a show that her son and his friends could enjoy. Dominik says he regrets taking such a lovely idea and ruining it with knob gags.

• Dominik says that he actually auditioned for the television show “The Word” but was unsuccessful. Hewland got in contact with the people from the process seeing as they had auditioned lots of potential hosts. Someone put forward Dominik’s name to her, and that led to him getting the gig. He relays a great story about walking out of a dead end job in Milton Keynes and sticking it to his boss on the way out.

• Dominik does have two golden joysticks (which he actually whipped out on one of his Twitch shows). One of them was made for him by a friend’s wife, and the other was sent to him a couple of weeks afterward.

• Dominik thinks GamesMaster worked because it was an entertainment show that was about video games rather than being just a show about video games. This was a contributing factor to all the innuendo as Dominik guessed that parents might be watching along with their kids. His material wasn’t censored, and he was basically allowed to write whatever he wanted. Channel 4 were basically clueless about the show and didn’t tend to bother him so long as the ratings held.

• In regards to the eponymous GamesMaster himself, Patrick Moore, Dominik says that Patrick didn’t really know what the show was about, but he was a consummate professional. They actually had a list of people who could take over if Patrick were to sadly pass away, which included 70s and 80s Doctor Whos. Dominik says he met Patrick only once on the last ever day of shooting for GamesMaster, and they had a lovely chat about cricket.

• With regards to the celebrity guests from the show, Dominik says most were lovely but does also say that Mr. Motivator smiled far more on camera than he did off it. Vinnie Jones was super expensive to book, but he would also do basically anything for money, so he could be relied upon to show up so long as the price was right. Dominik recounts a fun story about how he met Robbie Williams on the show, and Robbie randomly appeared at a train station later on to help diffuse an argument between Dominik and his girlfriend at the time.

• Dominik does suggest that sometimes they would re-shoot some of the show’s famed challenges if the first take wasn’t any good, but he remains tight-lipped with regards to the actual details.

• The discussion moves on to some of the more notable console flops of the 90s, with the 3DO and CD-I both getting a mention. Dominik concedes that he once pushed strongly for the CD-I to be featured on GamesMaster, mainly because he was writing for probably the only CD-I magazine on the market at the time.

• With regards to the sets and themes of each series, Dominik says that he and the rest of the team would head down to the pub to get absolutely sloshed before coming up with the wackiest ideas they could. Thankfully, Hewland was the sort of producer who tried to make stuff work, which meant a lot of the crazy ideas did eventually get used.

• Dominik says that he hated his “red coat” outfit from the second series and had it written into future contracts that he would have the right to wear what he chose from then on.

• Dominik didn’t take part in series 3 of GamesMaster as he was against a sponsorship deal the show had with McDonald’s. When he agreed to come back for series 4, he requested that the sponsorship deal not be renewed, so from series 5, the McDonald’s logo was no longer slapped over the show. Dominik admits that he doesn’t really hate McDonald’s anymore, and he actually ended up eating at one a couple of years back due to needing to stop and use the Wi-Fi.

• With regards to the GamesMaster co-hosts that would show up for challenges, Dominik gives credit to them all and feels it was a shrewd move on the producer’s part as it brought the show credibility to have people on who knew their stuff. He also gives a shout out to Zoe Ball for being the ultimate good sport when she showed up to be a guest as well and laments that the two never got to host The Big Breakfast together.

• We of, course, address the Dave Perry incident, which saw “The Games Animal” throw a strop when he was unable to defeat Dom’s pal, Kirk, in Super Mario 64. Dominik says that Dave actually tried to cheat on the quiz portion of that episode, which led to Dominik hitting the roof and changing the round he had cheated on. Dominik says he doesn’t feel bad about what happened on the show, but he does feel bad about saying nasty things about him after the fact as Dave was just trying to protect his brand. He has no further ill feelings towards him.

• Dominik says that “90s Dominik” did a lot of naughty things due to drugs, and the decade is a bit of a blur. He used to have to phone a friend to remind him of all the parties attended, including one where he got into an argument with Michael Jackson because he was hogging one of the machines.

• On why GamesMaster came to an end, Dominik wasn’t happy about them moving the time slot so that they were a warm-up for Hollyoaks. The people on the show actually wanted to move it into a late night slot, but Channel 4 said no, so the show just ended. Dominik says he is almost kind of happy that the show ended before it jumped the shark. He regrets the money he missed out on though.

• He doesn’t know why TV companies are so averse to video games these days as people on streaming sites are making a killing. He thinks e-sports are overly serious sometimes, but he did have a gig lined up to do some MC’ing for some e-sport events until COVID-19 got them all cancelled.

That was a fun trip down memory lane! It’s always great to hear from Dominik, and I strongly suggest you check out his show on Twitch, as well as further Retro Hour podcasts.

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