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Classic TV


For me, Bullseye WAS Sunday evening TV. Sunday in general was “visiting relatives” day for my family, so from about 3pm on Sunday afternoon we used to be at my Grandads.

We would run around the garden for an hour or so, explore his huge house for a bit, but come 5:30 I was glued to the TV.

From the first time I saw the start of the first show, with its jolly opening titles featuring a Bull called Bully flying around on a dart and its “pub-piano” jingle, I loved it.

Jim Bowen would welcome you to each episode with genuine warmth and gratitude that you had tuned in. He would do a quick bit of comedy, often with co-presenter Tony Green, before introducing the pairs of contestants.

In the pairs, there was always one darts player and one non-darts player. The contestants usually knew each other from work, or just as friends. The darts player would take part in the throwing to earn points, and the non-darts player would answer the quiz questions to get to keep the points. There was, in effect, a dart “thrower” and a trivia “knower.”

Round 1 was always a category round where the “thrower” would throw a dart into the category board, (a dart board that had 10 different sections, each with a different category,) and the “knower” would have to answer a question on that topic. The “knower” would first specify which category they wanted and the “thrower” had to try to hit that category. If the “throwers” dart went off course and landed in a different category, the “knower” had to answer a question on that topic instead.

Then, Round 2 was a “Pounds for Points” round, or a “highest score wins” round, where the “throwers” competed against each other to get the highest score. The player with the highest score then had the chance to change their points for pounds by answering a question correctly.

After this the two lowest scoring pairs would be deemed losers and, after being given their money and tankards were evicted from the premises.

Then there was an ad break, where I used to nip to the toilet.

Bullseye used to return after the ads with a section in which a celebrity dart player would try to score as much as possible for charity, with his overall 9 dart score score being converted to pounds. Whoever the winning pair were from part 1 were allowed to designate a charity to which the earnings would be passed.

THEN…. Round 4, the prize board, was the one that I think EVERYONE remembers! Tony and Jim used to alternate lines as they read out the list of potential prizes.

IIIIIN ONE… We have an electric kettle!

IIIIIN TWO… A portable Hi-Fi system.

IIIIIN THREE… A personal computer with 6 games on cassette.

It was a veritable list of 80s dream prizes! And after reading out 8 prizes, Tony announced what you could win if you were lucky enough to hit the Bullseye…

And Bullys SPECIAL Priiiize… A combined fridge freezer with an ice making compartment!

These prizes, to a 12 year old, were the “business!”

All the “knower” and the “thrower” had to do was throw 9 darts, 6 for the “thrower” and 3 for the non-dart playing “knower” and try to land them in thin red segments of a dart board. If they hit a red section, they won the prize. If you hit a black section you won or lost nothing. If they hit the same red section again, they lost the prize they had won earlier! It could have been so confusing!

You just KNEW that contestants were sometimes in a panic, thinking “But Jim, how will I be able to remember where my darts should land? I know that I need to hit the red section and avoid the black ones, but if I get two darts in the red section I’ll lose a prize. If only there was a simple catchy way of remembering all that info…….” To which Jim, like a true God or rhyme, would say,

“Keep out of the black and in the red,
Nothing in this game for two in a bed.”

Jim, you’re a catchphrase genius!

After the round the contestants had the option to gamble the multitude of prizes they had (or maybe hadn’t) won against the mystery prize that was hiding behind a huge stage-shielding Bully. If they accepted the gamble all they had to do is score 101 or more with just 6 darts, 3 thrown each.

“Tense” isn’t a strong enough word to define how this made me feel if they decided to gamble!

More often than not gamblers went home empty handed after losing their Prize Board prizes, but occasionally people would win and they would reveal the most amazing prizes. A SPEEDBOAT! A CARAVAN! A HOLIDAY TO SOMEWHERE EXOTIC! A CAR!

It didn’t occur to me until recently that, if a pair of contestants did happen to win a Speedboat, how would they share it?

But as I said, for me, Sunday evening TV was Bullseye.

To read 80sNostalgia’s interview with Jim Bowen, click – Jim Bowen Interview

To visit the official Bullseye website, click – Bullseye TV Website

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