Bullseye has been one of my favourite TV shows for around 30 years. I used to watch it during visits to my Granddad when I was 8, and its just one of those programmes that reminds me of childhood. Jim Bowen and Tony Green giving away amazing prizes like record players and speedboats. (!?)
More recently Bullseye was brought back to TV with a new host, Dave Spikey. It was great to see it back, but for it nothing can top the 80s version.
I’ve already interviewed Jim Bowen about his memories of Bullseye, and Dave Spikey said he would be willing to take part in one too at some point, so it seemed only right that the people behind one of the 80s most popular gameshows shared the spotlight. After all, with out them there wouldn’t have been a Bullseye at all!
So I got in touch with Laura and Andrew from Bullseye HQ, asked a few questions, and they gave possibly the most thorough interview I’ve ever had!
Hi Bullseye people! Are you well?
Hi 80sNostalgia and thank you for having us on your blog!
How much planning, preparation and development went into Bullseye before it reached our screens in 1981?
From initial conception to the night Bullseye was first transmitted at 7pm on Monday 28th September 1981 on ITV I would say around two years.
In 1979 I began to analyse game shows from all around the world & what their formats contained that made them so compelling. After 6 to 7 months of research I had formulated what I considered to be the pillars of strength for a successful game show and from here Bullseye was created.
Did you approach ITV with the idea of a darts gameshow, or did ITV have the idea and ask for a developer?
I approached ITV and presented my Bullseye format to them. From there ITV invited me to do a live run through of the show to their head of light entertainment, Jon Scoffield in the rehearsal room at Elstree Studios.
Jon very much liked the show and from there we went to pilot then series.
Was Jim Bowen in mind to be the host, or did you audition other presenters? How involved was Jim in development?
Despite being the creator, writer and owner of the Bullseye format I had no input into who would host the show. I had suggested Norman Vaughan, however this suggestion was turned down by ITV. Instead ITV chose a new up and coming comedian, Jim Bowen, who went on to become a household name.
Throughout the series, the format changed slightly. As an example, in early episodes one team leaves after each round, whereas in the later ones teams only leave after round 2. Was the format in continual development?
All game shows evolve as their series progress and Bullseye was no exception. Challenge TV recently acquired the transmission rights to series one and two. These shows had not aired since their original transmission dates in 1981 & 1982 and the changes in the format over the years really stood out.
Due to pressure of time one of the first changes we made in series 3 was to remove the first part of the show where the contestants each threw a dart to get nearest the Bull in order to determine the order of play. This was then done in the greenroom prior the recording the show.
The biggest change however was the introduction of co-host and scorer Mr Tony Green…. Which I believe we are going to discuss further in the next question.
Indeed! In the earliest of series there was no Tony Green, and in later series he and Jim were quite a good double act. How did Tony take to being introduced and evolving to he had more involvement?
Tony Green made his first appearance on Bullseye in Series One as the guest profession dart player throwing for charity and from this appearance Tony & Jim hit if off and became great friends and remain so to date.
During the filming of series 1 we had many tapes stops due to the fact that from Jims rostrum it was difficult for Jim to see the exact landing position of the darts especially if the dart landed close to the wire, did the dart land in the 20 or a 5?
These tape stops affected the smooth flow of the show and rectify this we contact Tony Green to be scorer and co-host of the show. Tony was thrilled and delighted to be involved with show and he became an instant part of the team.
Was anyone ever hit with a wayward dart?
Ha! No, not that I recall… Thankfully!
I often wonder how management react when someone in any meeting proposes anything out-of-the-norm. How was the idea of having a massive cartoon bull as the mascot received, and who came up with it?
The Director said to me he though the show needed a logo. I am not a very good artist but I sketched out a Bull as I thought it would compliment the title Bullseye and I decided to call him Bully. My sketch was then passed on to the graphics department of ITV.
Watching the repeats on Challenge TV nowadays, its fun to look at the prizes that were on offer. But back in the 80s, a teasmade and a his-and-hers watch set were quite upmarket prizes. Which were the best prizes you offered?
The prizes have always been a huge talking point on the show and amongst fans on our social networking sites and in particular ‘Bully’s Special Prize’. The best prizes over the years were, the remote control colour television (with teletext!), a video recorder, a weekend for 2 in London with a West End Show, a set of golf clubs, a timeshare apartment, cars, caravans and of course the legendary Speedboat!
What would have happened if everyone decided NOT to gamble at the end? Would you now own a warehouse full of speedboats?
As far as I can recall this only happened once. When the final pair turned down the chance to gamble Jim thanked everybody for taking part in the game and closed the show saying ‘That’s Bullseye’.
Were the winners ever offered a cash alternative, if they won a main prize they couldn’t use? (If they won a speedboat but lived nowhere near water, or a car if they had no licence?)
The winning pair did not have to take the Mystery Star prize. They were able to exchange this for a cash sum.
Come to think of it, why WERE Speedboats chosen for a top prize?
Why not… doesn’t everyone want a speedboat?! (I suppose this IS true!)
Whats all this about the Bullseye Christmas parties? I have a contact at a radio station (Kevin Gurney!) who tells me they were pretty outrageous. So outrageous in fact, that when they asked Jim about them, he laughed and refused to comment. Is this true?!?
Ha! After the Christmas Specials were recorded Jim, Tony, the whole crew and guests were into the greenroom and had a few drinks and a knees-up, great fun indeed!
Where is the Bronze Bully now, the one from the celebrity dart player challenges?
Bronze Bully lives at Bullseye HQ along side Team Bullseye & Bendy Bully. We are one big happy family.
There have been all kinds of Bullseye goodies in shops. Recently I’ve seen a Bullseye Scratchcard, but over the last few years I’ve also seen Bendy Bullies, a Bullseye DVD game, and I’m sure I saw a Bullseye bedspread a few years back! Do you actively try to keep Bullseye in the public eye?
Anyone who closely follows us will know that we are very active on a wide social media platform; Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Instagram and through our official website. For us it is a pleasure interacting with our fans, many of who are very passionate about the show and its history.
We have a great demand from the public to continue bringing our more Bullseye merchandise and we recently brought Bulldog Licensing onboard to act as our official Merchandising Agents. We have many new exciting products in the pipeline and we are confident for a strong future in the public eye for Bullseye. After all, you can’t beat a bit of Bully!
And how is Bully himself nowadays? I keep seeing photos on Twitter and Instagram of him in various places. Is he keeping well?
Bully is keeping very well thank you. He is very excited as he has just launched his very own twitter page (https://twitter.com/Bullseye_Bully) and he is enjoying finding his way round Twitter and being able to directly interact with his fans.
He is also busy training for a Charity Mascot Race that he is taking part in on Sunday 15th September at the Windmill on Wimbledon Common. All the mascots taking part are raising money for Centrepoint, the UK’s leading charity for homeless young people. Bully has his own just giving page too for anyone that may wish to sponsor him: https://www.justgiving.com/Bully-Bullseye