Big Boy Barry Exclusive

Interview with Alex Verrey AKA BIG BOY BARRY

Exclusive Interview by Peter Ward

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Pete: “Hello and Welcome to Retro Games Master. It is an honour to speak to one of the gaming TV Legends.”

BBB: “The honour is all mine, thanks for reaching out!”


Pete: “What are you currently doing for a living please give us some details?”

BBB: “Well, performing is my first love, I still present and act when I can. That said, my day job is in video games, an industry which continues to serve me well and one which I love. For the last decade or so I’ve served as the Global PR & Communications Director for Mad Catz, one of the largest hardware manufacturers in the world. Our head office is in San Diego and we have satellite offices all around Europe which means I’m very often out of the country. It’s a busy role but a very exciting one.”


Pete: “What was it like appearing on Games Master and how did this come about?”

BBB: “I was there when it all begun! I was actually on episode two of the show I think, playing Sonic the Hedgehog on the megadrive. When the show was gearing up for production, the producers were having huge problems getting audience members let alone contestants. No one had heard of the show before and it was filming in the middle of the city right at the start of term time. They advertised free tickets to watch the filming of the show on teletext (look it up kids!). Me and some buddies called the hotline to blag some tickets and the researcher mentioned they needed contestants for the show who were good at games. They invited us in to audition and the rest is history!”

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Pete: “Was this your first TV appearance?”

BBB: “No, I come from a theatrical family. My cousin David Verrey is a classically trained actor with many TV, film and theatre credits. My dad was an actor and singer as was my aunt and grandfather. In fact, ‘Verrey’ is a made up surname chosen by my granddad in the war! Before Gamesmaster, I had a few roles as an extra on TV shows and performed some theatre as well.”


Pete: “What was it like meeting Dominik Diamond?”

BBB: “I can’t really recall meeting him on Gamesmaster, I had very little to do with him. As a young kid, I was handled mostly by the researchers and production team, I only remember spending a little time with Dom when I was on air. Of course, when Gamesworld came about I met and worked with Dom extensively as the production company was the same team. I remember touring around America with him for a month or so! I have nothing but fond memories of the guy, very pleasant to work with and very funny too. He actually cared a great deal about the quality of the show and his work and he was also great friends with David Walliams as they went to Uni together back in the day.”


Pete: “Would you ever bring Big Boy Barry back to our screens?”

BBB: “In a heartbeat. There have been some very serious attempts to bring the character back over the years both with a Gamesworld revival and other opportunities. I’d love to reprise the Big Boy and have some cool ideas on where to take him in 2016. If anyone out there is listening and runs a production company!….”

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Pete: “How did you get cast for Games World?”

BBB: “Through Gamesmaster. As I said, Hewland international was the production team behind both shows. When Gamesworld was commissioned a year after Gamesmaster, the producers remembered me from the show as a cocky young kid who held his own in front of the camera. They were looking for resident gaming champions for Gamesworld, a kinda’ spin on the Gladiator concept but they knew they needed people who could play games and wouldn’t fall apart in front of an audience. They gave me a call to come in and chat and again, the rest is history! ”


Pete: “Being one of the youngest Videators was this a plus or minus?”

BBB: “That’s an excellent question. I don’t think I’ve ever been asked that before and you know what? I’ve never thought about it. I’ve never seen age as a barrier in anything I’ve done and never was conscious of my age when filming the show. A couple of the Videators and Tim Boon, the commentator worked for video game magazines at the time and I had a degree of hero worship for these guys, they were my heroes! In hindsight, I made a few stupid mistakes due to my age and would have acted very differently were I blessed with the wisdom of time. All part of growing up I guess. I’ll keep some of these stories to myself but I made some cringe worthy mistakes in the early years which I wish I could have avoided. I guess the only other thing to add here is that when Gamesworld took off, I was still in school and getting enough time off to film became a major challenge. The popularity of the character required me to take more and more time off, something I was only too happy to do but my school soon pushed back and a great deal of negotiation took place in order to allow me to juggle the workload.”

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Pete: “I understand a Barry Pod nearly got the green light please Enlighten us?”

BBB: “Holy Moses, you do your research! Yes,I said above I would reprise Big Boy Barry in a heartbeat and who could blame me? I had a blast! To this very day, I’m still not certain why the show didn’t continue. I don’t even think it’s fair to say the show was axed, it wasn’t. I understand the ratings were still high and Sky was very happy. The story I hear is that they wanted more but Hewland wanted to move into other (dare I say more highbrow) areas. During the final season of the show, the producers and myself all discussed various ideas and concepts where to take the next series. Barry’s Car Lot was briefly discussed where I would fall on hard times and run a second hand car dealership with Leslie, selling motors to my famous friends! When I got the call to come back and present for the short lived ‘Computer Channel’ (Also run by Hewland), the idea for Barry’s Pod was pretty fleshed out. I would be running my own space station with Leslie and Charlene guest starring rather than regulars. From up in space I would review games and beam guests to my pod. It was pretty goofy and also unfeasibly expensive for a channel which essentially had no budget. Sadly, it was never to be…”

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Pete: “Could Gamesmaster or Big Boy Barry come back if not on TV, but as a Youtube Channel?”

BBB: “This is actually something I have been looking into. For ten years I have been campaigning to bring a video games TV show back to the airwaves. Truth be told however, though the idea could work, I think the moment may have passed and gaming is best served online nowadays. A Youtube channel is probably the way to go. I am half planning a concept to bring back the Big Boy and have had discussions with a few interested partners. I need to find the time however and I would like to keep the production quality high. If anyone has any ideas…”


Pete: “Or would you be interested in doing a monthly retro feature on my site?”

BBB: “Happy to discuss!”

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Pete: “Do you get many people calling you Barry (Alex) and if you do does this bother you?”

BBB: “Many of my closest mates still call me Barry. My work colleagues certainly do. I get recognised and called out all the time and I have a ‘BBB’ personalised number plate so being called Barry sure doesn’t bother me! I’m very proud of Big Boy Barry and the character will always be a part of me.”


Pete: “You’re a lucky Man working with Gail Porter and Diane Youdale what was it like to work with them?”

mistress1BBB: “LOL, I sure am, I’ve been blessed to work with many lovely people both in front and behind the camera. There are very few people I have worked with who I could say I actively disliked, in fact there’s only one or two presenters and performers I have worked with over the years who I could genuinely call vile. Gail and Diane were certainly not one of them! I try to get along with everyone, just as we all do in our daily workplace. We were always friendly with one another but it was always professional and just a job, I must admit, I lost touch with both those guys some time ago.”


Pete: “I would love to see Gamesmaster or Gamesworld back, would you be willing to present them?”

BBB: “Of course, I would love to! When Gamesworld returned for the final series in a morning slot presented by Andy Collins, I took the role of commentator and I would love to take over the host role if I ever had the opportunity.”2015-11-30_1615


Pete: “I understand Matt Lucas and David Walliams are friends of yours, and you worked with David on Gamesworld. Have you ever gamed with them?”

BBB: “I have interesting connections with both Matt and David. I of course grew very close with David through working with him for so long during Gamesworld. During Season one of the show, David was a researcher for Hewland and he was instrumental in inventing my character alongside many of the Videators. We worked together on catchphrases, mannerisms, skits, etc, so he’s very much responsible for birthing the character! Matt grew up near me and was good buddies with my brother! He came to my house during our youth and knew the family well! I’ve always been such fans of them both and after Gamesworld when David and Matt started performing together, I would go see those guys in pubs, clubs and comedy circuits to support them wherever I could! I never doubted for a second that they would become the stars that they are. These days, we rarely speak, they are way too important for the likes of me, but I still think of them both as friends. David hated gaming and was pretty useless at video games. We obviously went to many trade shows together filming for the show and had access to pretty much every new game during filming but they never interested him! I used to indulge my video gaming fix with my fellow Videators instead!”download (1)


Pete: “If so who was the best gamer?”

BBB: “Me by default!”


Pete: “What was your most awkward TV moment and best moment?”

BBB: “Of God, too many awkward moments. One day we were filming a feature in Sega World Bournemouth. I was sick as a dog with real, proper shivering flu but tried to continue out of professionalism. We were filming using the new Afterburner G-Loc 360 system, a monstrous cabinet which would throw you around 360 degrees. I got in it and the damn thing spun me upside down. I was wearing the full BBB fur coat and sweating like a pig who knew he was for dinner. The system crashed as my coat spilled out over the side and tripped its safety mechanism. I was left hanging upside down for half an hour while the hapless Sega engineers tried to release me. I nearly vomited and passed out while all the crew looked on in hysterics. I think a B-Roll tape exists somewhere. Just too many insane moments too mention. I got to meet and interview Muhammad Ali that was a pretty awesome day! I’m also a HUGE Trekkie and got to interview the cast of Next Generation when they came to London. That rocked also! I met so many celebrities and interesting people, it’s just nuts. Truly, I’ve been blessed and I’m very thankful for the Big Boy years.”2015-11-30_1622


Pete: “When was the last time you were approached about a potential TV project?”

BBB: “I get approached all the time, some more serious than others. I last had a very serious discussion about a gaming TV project a little over a year ago now. As I said, I still have representation and I still perform and act outside gaming from time to time.”


Pete: “I would like to ask you about your past games:”

BBB: “Sure”alex_verrey_hs03x


Pete: “What was your first gaming experience?”

BBB: “We had an old Atari system, so I guess I would have to say Pong. Gaming first came to life for me however when me and my brother received a Spectrum 48k for Christmas. Horace Goes Skiing blew my tiny little mind.”


Pete: “My favourite computer was my Amiga, and console the Megadrive. Do you have a favourite?”

BBB: “Easy: Spectrum (You never forget your first) and SNES.


Pete: “Do you have any prototype consoles from your Games World times?”

BBB: “Yep. Not telling you what they are however, as I’m certain I was never supposed to take them!….


Pete: “What is your favourite retro games top 10”

BBB: “Top ten?! Oh man, that’s nearly impossible, too many games to pick from. Literally, off the top of my head, some classics I remember are (in no particular order):
Power Drift
Final Fight
Cookie
Target Renegade
Speedball 2
Manic Miner
Chuckie Egg
New Zealand Story
Golden Axe
Simpsons Arcade
Chase HQ
Ridge Racer

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Pete: “Do you still game on the current consoles. If so, what’s your favourite game?”

BBB: “Absolutely, I still consider myself an avid hardcore gamer. Just finished the latest batman which was outrageously beautiful but my favourite game of the last few years was The Last of Us. An absolute masterpiece, beat it on every difficulty level numerous times now.”


Pete: “What’s the worst game you have ever played?”

BBB: “Oh God. Too many, where to start. Erm, Kung Food on LYNX? Dragons Lair on Gameboy? Anything on the God awful Tiger handheld monochrome system of which the name escapes me. They sent me a unit as a freebie back in the day. Truly, worst console EVER.”


Pete: “Finally, what feature or review would you like to see on Retro Games master?”

BBB: “History of side scrolling beat em ups. A dead genre which I loved!”

Pete: “Thank you for your time, it has been a pleasure”