Dave Perry Interview by Peter Ward
Hello and Welcome to Retro Games Master. It is an honour to speak to one of the gaming TV Legends.
You are now a Tattooist please give us some details and how this come about and why you moved away from the game industry?
I actually moved away from the games industry when the publishing company I had been working for… Rapide Publishing ran into financial difficulties. Following the Mario 64 debacle on GamesMaster I had also gone on to work with Hewland on Season 4 of Games World, but quickly became hugely disillusioned with how terrible the show had become. This wasn’t helped by the fact that some of the people that had been involved with what I saw as the demise of GamesMaster were now working on the show. Around half way through filming I decided I had had enough. My girlfriend was pregnant with my daughter and I was always away working on TV show’s etc. that I had clearly long since fallen out of love with. And so I left to concentrate on a new life with my young family.
In 1999 I set up my own Publishing Company in my home city and deliberately avoided gaming , launching a movie magazine instead. I decided that the industry could probably do with a break from me as much as I could do with a break from it.
This year, when I appeared at Revival 2017 in Walsall, was the first time I had returned to the games world in 18 years. But I have the heart of a gamer, and I have to admit, it felt good.
What was it like appearing on Games Master and how did this come about?
At first appearing on GamesMaster was one of the best feelings in the world. I had been employed by Hewland International as one of a five man team trusted with creating the UK’s first videogames tv show. It had never been done before and although we all had our own areas of expertise, we had no idea how we were going to do it.
To see something of that magnitude, that would go on to be of such great influence take shape, is a truly incredible, once-in-a-lifetime experience. Then, to actually get to appear on the show and become part of its history, well, it was life changing.
How did it happen? Well, we were screen testing journalists and editors etc. at my behest. I thought it would give the show gravitas with its audience if these magazine legends could also be seen to be commenting on the games on screen. And so, while we were screen testing I told the director, Cameron McAllister that I also wanted to be screen tested as I wanted to appear on the other side of the camera… the rest as they say, is history.
Was this your first TV appearance?
Yes it was. But I had a feeling that I was born to do it.
Could you explain a typical day on set on Games Master?
Better than that… I will send you a picture of a day’s filming schedule I kept from the first season.
Thursday 14th November 1991
Crew and runners arrive
Audience A arrive
Shoot links with Dominik
Shoot Panza Kick Boxing – Amiga
Contestant – Jason and Lisa Posel
Commentator Tim Boone
Shoot Heimdal – Amiga
Contestant/Guest Eric Bristow
Commentator Dave Perry
Shoot International Soccer – Amiga
Contestant/Guest – Emlyn Hughes and son.
Commentator – Dave Perry
Audience B arrives
Shoot Sonic Blastman – Arcade
Contestant- Paul, Arcade Champion
Guest – Gary Mason
Commentator – Tim Boone
Shoot Mad Dog MacCree – Arcade
Contestant – Tony Right
Commentator – Tim Boone
Shoot Baseball – Neo Geo
Contestant/Guest – Pay and Emily Cash
Commentator Tim Boone
Shoot Magician Lord – Neo Geo
Contestant – Dan Kelly
Commentator – Tim Boone
Hand over to Security
Do you actually own one of the infamous Golden Joysticks?
At the end of filming the first season the team presented me with the last golden joystick left from the original run. This was in recognition of all my hard work in the show’s creation and also to commemorate my role in actually coming up with the iconic award. However, I sold it to a retro gaming collector a few years ago as it deserved to be on display. I had simply had it sat in a box for years gathering dust.
If you could turn back the clock would you have done anything differently regarding your exit from Games Master?
Yes, of course. I would have walked off of the set as soon as I smelt a rat. But I allowed myself to be talked around and tried to do the ‘right thing’ when really I should have trusted my initial instincts.
If Dominik Diamond come in for a Tattoo of your choice what would you give him?
Ha, ha. I see where you are going with this. Probably a portrait of myself. But in reality, he could have whatever he wants, I have no hard feelings. We were both young and full of ego. What’s done is done. It was terrible but they have to live with it.
Would you ever consider coming back on TV for a new gaming show I was trying to get a spiritual successor to Games Master which had been talked about with Brad Burton and Alex Verrey?
Yes, of course. I have been sounded out about this a few times in the past, by some very big production companies, but nothing has ever come of it. I’m not sure TV executives will ever fully understand the true potential of videogames on television. We showed them once… but still they refuse to believe.
When was the last time you were approached about a potential TV project apart from my question?
About three or four years ago. Truth be told, I probably have a face for radio these days.
How were you cast for Games World?
Initially Jane Hewland asked me to present a show on the first Season, called The Disc Doctors, or something like that. I would be one of three regular presenters, but I wanted my own show. So I turned it down, but agreed to come back and play as a contestant. I beat all the champions from the nations magazines and then took on the Videators to get onto the leaderboard. Needless to say next season they offered me my own show and Presenter’s contract, which I was more than happy to sign.
Could you explain a typical day on set on Games World?
Arrive on set around 6.30 in the morning… sometimes groggy from the night before. Grab some coffee and breakfast and then go into make-up. I used to hate all of that cream and powder on my face, but I have to admit it worked wonders. Especially at that time of day.
Then it would be time to go over the schedules, meet the competitors, and sit down with the game techs to go through the challenges ahead and make sure I have my shit straight. Then there was lots of sitting around until I was called into action. Lots of sitting around. No mobile phones or iPads to play on. No social networking to take up the time. Just going over your lines and watching and learning. But Bob Mills made it all worthwhile. That man was hilarious.
How did it compare working with the hosts on GamesMaster and Games World?
Games World was a lot looser and a lot more fun. We all felt like more of a family than on GamesMaster. We socialised together and played together. Gamesmaster got very cliquey and business like by comparison. I loved GamesMaster because it had been my baby, I had helped create it from the ground up. But I was not proud of the way it developed. I would turn up, do my job as best I could, but in the end I felt very disconnected from what was going on. I wasn’t part of the clique. And truth be told I’m quite proud of that. I remained my own man.
In the early days Dominik and I were quite friendly and able to have a laugh, but later on I hardly saw him except for when we were on camera. Bob on the other hand was a great presence and fun to be around. I sat in his dressing room with him sometimes and loved to hear him talk. Dexter was a great bloke too, and freely let me use his dressing room when we filmed the second half of GamesMaster Season 3 together. I still don’t know what happened between Dom and I. Shame really. Onscreen we were the faces of GamesMaster. The show was always stronger when we worked together.
Would you have beaten the Games World Videators?
Everyone is beatable. And I often beat the Videators when we played behind the scenes, as they occasionally beat me. But the Videators were very, very good at their own particular games. After I had beaten all the UK magazine champions on the show, I did play on Beat the Elite back on the first series. The point of the show was to bet the coins you collected in a game called Cash Dash on each challenge in an attempt to get onto the shows’s leaderboard. I bet low against Master Moriarty and Big Boy Barry because I knew they were very good at the game sections they played on. Barry even told me he changed his game at the last minute to a SNES title, because he knew I played Mega Drive and worked on Sega magazines. Clever boy. Then I bet huge on a Neo Geo game called King of the Monsters and won my place at the top end of the show’s leaderboard.
What is your favourite video game you had to commentate over for either GamesMaster or Games World?
I always loved commentating on the Street Fighter or Mortal Kombat games. Superb tactical battles, and real tests of skill. Much better than simply memorising chains of button commands, which is what many beat’em-ups became later.
Was there any celebrities you really enjoyed meeting when working on both GamesMaster and Games World?
I always enjoyed chatting with Frank Bruno, and Vinnie Jones was colourful to be around, as was Robbie Williams. But my biggest regret was that we had planned to have George Best appear on Season One to play a football game against Emlyn Hughes. A kind of classic Manchester United versus Liverpool challenge. But It was decided that George was too unreliable, and so they didn’t book him. I was gutted. I’d had a special version of the game made with all-time great Liverpool and Man U teams in it. I’d have loved to have met George Best and shown him how to play it.
What was your most awkward TV moment and best moment?
There have been so many of both. My most awkward TV moments were probably kissing Danielle Westbrook on a Christmas Special of Games World whilst covered in snow. My best was probably the whole of the second half of Season 3 of GamesMaster when I presented the show alongside Dexter Fletcher. That was confirmation of my good work on Games World as a presenter. It is frustrating that I am never given a credit for being an actual presenter on the show. But in reality GamesMaster actually had three presenters… Dominik Diamond, Dexter Fletcher and Dave Perry. I even presented an episode of Season 6 when we had a Japanese Tetsujin in the studio. I was the show’s third presenter. Everyone else was just a co-commentator.
Did you ever try to write your own games?
No. I helped develop a few games. But coding etc. was never a strength of mine. I like to think of it as being similar to formula one. I was a world class driver, but never part of the pit crew.
I appear in a few games though… like Sensible World of Soccer and Victory Boxing 2.
You helped launch video game magazines including Mega Power, Games World and PowerStation – which magazine are you most proud to have been involved in?
There have been so many reasons to be proud of so many different magazines. I was massively proud to be the first person ever to edit the official magazine for his own TV show, when I launched Games World. That was a great editorial team to work with… all day, and often all through the night. Those guys are still my friends to this day and I will always appreciate them putting up with my ego. I was also proud of how we managed to put Mega Power out every month with only a three man team, and became the first console magazine to feature a cover CD. When I launched STATION for Rapide Publishing we were the only non-official PlayStation magazine that managed to put a playable disc on every issue. We got a record breaking first ABC of 132,645 and entered the country’s top 100 publications. The biggest selling non-official single format magazine of all-time. I both published and edited that launch personally. Well, if you want something doing right…
But I will always take the greatest pride in my film magazine DVD Monthly. This was my first launch with my own company Predator Publishing Ltd, and ran for over seven years. Lots and lots of hard work, lots and lots of laughs, and great, great times.
I would like to ask you about your past games:
What is your first gaming experience?
Pong I believe… or some Binatone variation thereof which my parents bought for me from Woolworths. And then later on Space Invaders, which I played after Ice Hockey training every Saturday.
My favourite computer was my Amiga and console the Megadrive do you have a favourite?
Favourite computer? Absolutely my Amiga 500. No question of doubt. That machine travelled everywhere with me and launched my career. If I could play on any one format for the rest of my life it would be that machine, armed with the 500k upgrade and a Competition Pro joystick. Simply the best gaming I have ever experienced. Kick Off 2, Gods, Wings, Speedball 2… just stunning. Can’t believe I sold it.
Do you have any prototype consoles from your Games World/Games Master times?
I used to. But I sold many of them to fans of the shows and to collectors. Except for the really rare and early ones. Which I keep safe. My favourite is what I believe is the world’s only working prototype of the Dave Perry Combat Pad. Bet you didn’t even know something like that had existed? The only pro gamer to have had his own signature peripherals? Yep, that’s me.
What is your favourite retro games top 10?
Games or machines?
Instead of going for trendy game aficionado choices like Elite, or Manic Miner or Tetris, I have instead decided to choose the games I have most enjoyed playing. These would be the 10 games that I could happily sit down and play any time. They are just as good today as they were when I first played them years ago.
Player Manager – Amiga
Kick Off 2 – Amiga
Wip3out – PlayStation
Mortal Kombat 2 – Coin-Op
5) Age of Empires – PC
6) Space Hulk – 3DO
7) Street Fighter – Coin-Op
Speedball 2 – Amiga
9) Gods – Amiga
10) MUDs – Amiga
As for games machines, these are the 10 that have given me the most pleasure through the years…
Commodore Amiga 500
Sega Mega Drive
Sony PlayStation 2
Do you still game on the current consoles if so what’s your favourite game?
These days I play mainly of Xbox 360 and my iPad. I like FIFA, Dragon Age and all the Call of Duty games… but the majority of my time is spent playing War Dragons online. I even write a blog for it. However, I do have a custom built Mortal Kombat arcade cabinet being delivered soon. So I shall be revisiting my golden days and finding out just how rusty I have really got.
What’s the worst game you have ever played?
Rise of the Robots. Looked great but was almost unplayable. Ha, ha. I really wanted to like it as I got on really well with the developers, but it was just dreadful. I am sure there were worse games, but that is the one that comes to mind just because I was so disappointed with it.
Finally, what feature or review would you like to see on Retro Games master?
A feature where you send me an Amiga 500 with a 500k upgrade and a Competition Pro Joystick and will see do a retro review every month of my favourite Amiga games. Which you will also send me. Ha, ha. See what I’m doing?
If you enjoyed the check out the BIG BOY Barry of Games World interview click here
Also Steve McNeil interview of G0 8 bit click here