Bullseye (ITV, 1981-1995)
Here’s the first in a very long series of my favourite game show memories. Some of the shows I’ll be looking back at will be rather obscure, but this one isn’t. However, I am still a big fan of Bullseye, and as the format doesn’t really need much explanation as you must already be familiar with it, this will more be a piece about the history of the show and what it means to me.
After darts began to increase in popularity, Bullseye started on ITV in 1981. It was hosted by Jim Bowen who always insists that he wasn’t the first choice to host the show. At the time he was best known for being a comedian but he did become a success hosting the show.
When the first series was repeated on Challenge recently it did come across as something of a shambles and rather different from the show that people would come to know and enjoy. There were some odd rounds that only appeared in that series, different categories on the board including Myths, Jim’s conversations with the contestants were rather stilted and there wasn’t even a scorer so Jim had to practically guess what the players had scored. It was also shown on Monday evenings which didn’t seem right.
Thanks goodness they persevered though, because although it took a few series, Bullseye would go on to be a big success. One of the main factors in this seems to be moving the show to Sunday afternoons. Like many people, I used to enjoy the show when it was shown in this timeslot, it seemed just right for it. There were lots of other great things including Jim having some memorable catchphrases (although I’m sure he said once “and the question’s gone so I can’t ask the category”), new features such as a professional darts player throwing for charity, the addition of Tony Green as scorer, and the prizes on offer. Some of what you could win on Bully’s Prize Board does seem rather laughable now but people did want them and Bullseye gained in popularity. It was always exciting to watch a team gamble for the star prize.
However, in 1993 Bullseye was moved to Saturday evenings. Even though it was exactly the same show the timeslot just didn’t seem right, and following the success of BBC1’s Big Break they made Jim and Tony interact more. They also introduced a horrible new title sequence. By 1995 Bullseye came to an end, it seems that people just didn’t want to answer questions for only £30 any more, but there’s no doubt that ITV got the best years out of the show and it is still remembered fondly, with the repeats on Challenge always worth watching.
Don’t forget your Bendy Bully and your tankards either. And who knows, they might even have a little drink afterwards. And I wrote this piece without a reference to speedboats. That’s why you can’t beat a bit of Bully. Bye!