Barney Harwood is an English television presenter and actor, probably best known for his work with CBBC, on shows such as Blue Peter and Prank Patrol, while also helping compose the theme tunes and incidental music for the latter and one of his other shows, Bear Behaving Badly.
Barney is also a very keen gamer, so after meeting him at the BAFTA video game awards, we tracked him down, to find out more about his love of gaming.
Q. Where did your love affair with gaming begin?
“When I was about 9 years old, I was bought a commodore 64 with two games. Booty and Paperboy! I have a problem-solving brain that likes puzzles and so started with platform ‘find the key to unlock the next level’ stuff and progressed from there!”
Q. The best thing about coming from Blackpool is?
“Having an appreciation for a well cooked chip! They simply can’t do it down south! They use alien potatoes that don’t like to be crispy on the outside and soft in the middle! The best thing about coming from Blackpool is being able to go home to the best chippy I know!”
Q. PES or FIFA?
“FIFA every time! It’s like the Canon vs Nikon debate, though, once you choose one, you stick with it!”
Q. What’s your console of choice?
“PS3! The only reason I would own an Xbox is for Halo (this is, in fact, why I own an Xbox).”
Q. What do you think of the PSN hacking debacle?
“It’s the world we live in! People are always gonna find a way of hacking into a system that uses credit cards! I feel sorry for Sony actually!”
Q. What kind of games do you enjoy most?
“Car games are my thing! I’m a bit of a petrol head anyway, so games like Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit are right up my street. I’ve had a few high spec BMW’s over the years and I’m impressed with the detail and engine noise these digital versions make. They also manage to get ‘the feel’ of the car down too!”
Q. What is your favourite game soundtrack?
“Tough one! There are so many, but if I was to be perfectly honest and didn’t care about my street cred (we’re all geeks anyway right?), I would say that my all time fave is the theme to the Labyrinth Zone on the original Sonic game on Mega Drive! Love it!”
Q. What is your favourite gaming memory?
“Street Fighter! Nuff said! When that game came out, it took our street by storm! Every kid wanted to play it and only one kid had a games console. We would wait for his mum to leave in the morning and then we’d all be round having massive tournaments! While the boys played on the console. We all warmed up with pillow fights in our home-made ring in the bedroom! My brother knocked me out by putting a doc martin in the pillow case! My how we laughed!”
Q. What games have taken up most of your time this year?
“Lego Star Wars and Medal of Honour. I can be lost for days with these two! I actually discovered I can survive without food and water for long periods because of these games! It reminds me of when Resident Evil first came out on PS1, you didn’t see your mates for weeks!”
Q. Any interesting tales from attending the BAFTAs this year?
“I saw Dr Robotnik kicking off with a waiter ‘coz his soup was cold and all over his ridiculous moustache! I also heard Solid Snake say “don’t you know who I am” to David Hasselhof! Apart from that, a quiet night!”
Q. It has been said that you should never meet your heroes, have you ever met someone you admired only to be disappointed or not actually like them?
“In my line of work, I meet my heroes all the time! I was with John Craven last week, he’s a ledge and a very nice guy! The biggest for me was Billy Connolly, he invited me into his dressing room for a chat because he had a cold and didn’t want to come outside! Such a genuinely funny and brilliant man, I was like a kid!”
Q. What games are you most looking forward to this year?
“Anything Lego based and I’m there!”
Q. Are Kinect and Sony Move just fads?
“One can’t help but wonder if the enormous success of the Wii forced their hand on this, eh? The simple fact for me is that the Wii is played by every single member of the family. It’s brilliant, and it does what it is designed to do extremely well. You don’t buy one for graphics, you don’t buy it for its massive hard drive and online playability.
You buy it because it suits absolutely everyone! Kinect and Move, in my humble opinion, are just copying something that works well elsewhere. There will always be a bit of competition but I doubt they’ll win this one! Can’t wait to see the Wii U!”
Q. Is there anything you would like to plug?
“Everything/Anything to do with Blue Peter! I’m also looking at a photographic expedition with National Geographic, where I’ll be taking some pretty crazy photos!”
Q. Mythbusters time, Did you really swear on Basil’s Swap Shop?
Q. Finally could you help settle an argument who would win in a fight between Marcus Fenix vs. Master Chief?
“Hands-down, Master Chief! I think it’s ‘coz he has that superbike helmet thing going on! I reckon when he lifts the visor he has Carl Fogarty’s eyes.”
I thank Barney for his time and walk off into a fake sunset, before tracking down my next, elusive celebrity gamer…
In the same year, Harwood starred with his partner puppet Nev in Bear Behaving Badly, a sitcom which explored their lives outside of Smile. This ran for four seasons, before ending in 2010.