Bullseye (UK game show): Wikis


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Not to be confused with an American game show of the same name with a different premise. See Bullseye (US game show) for details.
Format Game Show
Created by Andy Wood
Norman Vaughan
Starring Jim Bowen
(Host: 1981 - 1995)
Dave Spikey
(Host: 2006)
Tony Green
(Referee: All Series)
Country of origin  United Kingdom
No. of series 15
No. of episodes 295
(Original Series)
(Revived Series)
Producer(s) ATV
(1982 - 1995)
Granada Yorkshire
Running time 30mins (inc. comms)
Original channel ITV1
(28 September 1981 - 8 July 1995)
(17 April - 22 September 2006)
Picture format 4:3
(1981 - 1995)
Original run 28 September 1981 – 22 September 2006

Bullseye is a popular British television programme. It was first made for the ITV network by ATV in 1981 and Central from 1982 until 1995, and hosted by Jim Bowen. In its prime, it was watched by around 15 million viewers on Sunday evenings, where it was shown from 1982 to early 1993. The first series (1981) was on Monday nights, and the last two series (1994 and 1995) were on Saturday evenings. After an eleven-year hiatus, Bullseye was revived and a new series was recorded for the satellite channel Challenge, produced by Granada at Yorkshire Television in the Leeds Studios, and hosted by Dave Spikey.

Centred around darts, the show placed three pairs of contestants (each team with one person to answer questions and one darts player) against one another to win prizes ranging from a new car, a speedboat, a caravan, or a luxury holiday, to the consolation prizes of a set of darts, a tankard (silver goblet for lady contestants) and a 'Bendy Bully', a rubber model of the show's mascot.

For all series, the show was co-hosted by professional darts commentator Tony Green.




Nearest To The Bull (started the game)

Before the main game, the three dart-playing contestants would throw one dart each on a special board to determine the order of play. This happened in the green room before the show and was adjudicated by the production team.

Category Round

In round 1, the darts players threw one dart at a board in which each segment represented a different category of question (such as Faces, Places, Sport, Showbiz, Affairs, History, Books, Words, Britain, Spelling). The first set of questions were worth £30 each, the next set (more difficult) were worth £50, and the final set (more difficult still) were worth £100. The cash prize for hitting the board varied depending on what part of the board was hit; the easiest part of the board to hit won £30, a slightly harder part won £50, a narrow and difficult-to-reach part won £100, and hitting the bullseye won the maximum cash prize of £200 (£150 from 2006). If contestants hit a category which they have not chosen, they would win no money for the throw, and could only win money through answering the question if a question on the category had not already been asked. If a contestant hit a category which had already turned up on that programme, the host would say "The category's gone, so we can't ask the question" and carry on. Up to and including series 7, the lowest-scoring couple would be eliminated at the end of the first round, but from series 8 onward, all three couples would stay in the game for the second round.

Pounds For Points

In round 2, the darts players threw three darts at a time at a traditional matchplay dartboard, with the highest scoring team given the chance to convert the number of points scored to pounds by answering a general knowledge question. An incorrect answer caused the question to be passed in turn to the second-highest and lowest scoring teams. After three rounds of play the pair with the highest total winnings went through to the next round. The other pairs received a set of darts, a tankard (silver goblet for female contestants), a 'Bendy Bully' and the money that they had won from the two rounds, which was counted during the commercial break.

Charity interlude

Immediately at the start of part 2, a professional darts player or other celebrity threw nine darts, with the score converted to money for the charity of the final contestant's choice. A score over 301 was doubled. At the end of the series, (Series 5 onward) the dart player who got the highest score in the series received a 'Bronze Bully' trophy. In the earlier years of the show (up to and including series 4) celebrity players were given a 60 head-start; between then and series 14, the charity segment was exclusive to professional dart players. Celebrities who performed particularly badly (as when an obviously worse-for-wear George Best missed the board) would usually offer to 'add some of their own money'.

Bully's Prize Board

In this round the final pair were faced with a large prize board containing large black segments, smaller red segments and a large red bullseye. They threw nine darts (three for the non-dart player and six for the dart player) and won a prize for each red segment they hit (however, if they hit an already-hit red segment again, the prize was lost - hence the catchphrase "Keep out of the black, and in the red; there's nothing in this game for two in a bed"). However, in special charity episodes, contestants did win the prize twice. The bullseye represented 'Bully's Special Prize'.

The prize board has become the butt of jokes since the programme's original demise because of the perceived poor quality of prizes on offer, but it should be pointed out that, for most of the programme's original run, prize values were restricted by the Independent Broadcasting Authority. Although some prizes (such as a remote-controlled toy cat) were laughed at by the studio audience even then, smaller prizes were taken for granted at the time, and they seemed relatively lavish compared to those on offer in BBC game shows such as Blankety Blank. In a recent episode, Bully's Special Prize was a fully-functional Bullseye Fruit Machine, quite possibly the most valuable prize in the show's history not to be the mystery Star Prize - it should come to little surprise that the contestants promptly lost it after doing badly in the final round.

During series 1, the black segments were green.

Bully's Star Prize Gamble

Having completed Bully's Prize Board, the winning pair were presented with the option of whether to gamble their winnings from the prize board for the mystery Star Prize hidden behind a screen in the studio. From the series 11 onward, they also had to gamble the money they had won earlier in the show (it was at this point that the phrase "all you'll win is your BFH - Bus Fare Home" came about). If they gambled, they then had six darts (three for each member of the team) to score 101 or more on a standard matchplay dartboard. Contestants who failed to reach 101 were then invited to "have a look what you would have won", by Jim.

If the couple who took part in Bully's Prize Board refused to gamble (inevitably ducking out claiming that they'd already had a "smashing day, Jim" and would like "to give the others a chance"), the second-place couple from the second round was asked to gamble their money. If the second couple declined, the third couple was asked. On the rare occasions that no couple took up the gamble, the Star Prize was revealed and the show ended. The Star Prize was usually a holiday (especially in later series), a car, a caravan or a speedboat. Sometimes in the earlier series, less lavish Star Prizes (fitted kitchens and the like) were given away so as to fit within the IBA's prize limits.

If in the rare case that both the second and third place couples had tied on equal points (prior to series 7), then both would be asked if they wanted to gamble. If both said yes, then the dart players would each throw three darts at the standard dartboard, the higher scorer winning.

On the show, it was never made clear if the two winning contestants had to share the Star Prize or if they got one each. The issue of the Star Prize being completely inappropriate was never broached either - prizes like speedboats were unlikely to be useful for contestants living in places like blocks of flats in Wolverhampton, although Jim Bowen did on some occasions utter phrases such as "And you live by the sea - that's good ...so you can use it" when he could put a positive spin on the situation. One of the most unusual Star Prizes to be won was a complete wardrobe of designer clothing for the whole family - an amusing and bizarre prize as Bullseye contestants were not renowned for their sartorial elegance.


Bullseye was one of several game shows to be released as an interactive DVD game for Christmas 2005, although the game did not feature the voice of Jim Bowen, and 'Bully' was redesigned. A Bullseye boardgame was made around the same time.

A 'Classic Bullseye' DVD game was released the following year, which featured the voices of both Jim Bowen and Tony Green and also classic footage from the show. A second edition of the board game was also released.

In 2005, it was announced that programme creator Andrew Wood had signed a contract with Granada Media for Granada to produce a one-hour long celebrity special Bullseye show to be hosted by Ant & Dec. This Bullseye special was part of Ant & Dec's Gameshow Marathon, in turn part of ITV’s 50th anniversary celebrations, and was aired on ITV on 22 October 2005. Vernon Kay and Coronation Street star William Roache were the contestants, accompanied by professional darts players Eric Bristow and Andy Fordham, while Tony Green reprised his role as co-host.

Subsequently, as part of a six-month exclusive option agreement signed by Wood, Granada decided that a new series of Bullseye would be produced early the following year. On 25 January 2006, it was announced that Challenge had won the rights to show the new series.

Jim Bowen was not asked back to present the show, possibly due to allegedly racist comments that he had made in October 2002 on a show he was presenting on BBC Radio Lancashire. Following these comments he told the Lancashire Evening Telegraph that he expected the incident would end his career.

Asked if he would be retiring, he said: "Yes, although in this business you don't actually retire. What happens is that the phone stops ringing and sometimes little hiccups occur like this one. Basically you do as the business tells you."

He added: "No racial connotation was ever intended and, having said all that, I should have been sharp enough to correct the error. I almost immediately apologised for it as it was, to say the least, not clever."

On 14 March 2006, it was announced that the show was to be hosted by comedian Dave Spikey, despite tabloid rumours that it would be presented by Ant & Dec or Peter Kay. Bully was also redesigned for the new series.

Bullseye returned to the UK on Challenge at 22:00 on 17 April 2006. The show maintained the style of prizes from the original — none of the cash prizes had increased in value since the first show. Some of the prizes from Bully's Prize Board were of more modern gameshow standard, such as a TFT television and an MP3 player. Dave Spikey and Tony Green commented on BBC Radio 1's Colin and Edith show on 19 April 2006: "...[Bullseye is] The only gameshow on the television in which the prizes get a round of applause..." then joked around about some of the more "naff" prizes on the show.

The first series of the Challenge revival ran for fifteen episodes (one each weeknight) until 5 May 2006. The second series began on 4 September 2006, also running for fifteen episodes (again one each weeknight). However, there was no further production afterwards.

On 19 May 2007, another one-hour long celebrity special was aired on ITV, this time as part of Vernon Kay's Gameshow Marathon. This time the contestants were newsreader Andrea Catherwood, footballer Graeme Le Saux and another Coronation Street star, Michael Le Vell, paired with professional darts players Martin Adams, Phil Taylor and Raymond van Barneveld respectively. Once again, Tony Green reprised his co-host's role.

Additional Information

The show was nearly unique in having two different closing theme tunes — an upbeat tune played when the contestants won the Star Prize, and a tune in a minor key played when they lost or nobody took the gamble.

Jim Bowen once described Bullseye as "the second-best darts-based game show on television". There are no others.

From Series 1 to 9, the show was recorded at ATV/Central House in Broad Street, Birmingham. In Series 10, it moved to Central's purpose-built studios at Lenton Lane in Nottingham, where it remained until its first demise in 1995. The Challenge revival was recorded at the Yorkshire Television studios in Leeds, and the Gameshow Marathon one-offs were produced at the London Studios.

Programme associates on the show were Mickey Brennan and Roger Edwards.

The theme music for the show was written by John Patrick, a successful musician who was a founder member of The Associates and who has written a number of theme tunes for commercial television shows.

Revival series presenter Dave Spikey had also appeared as a contestant on the show in the 80's versions.

Bullseye was repeated on UK Gold from 1996 to 2000, then it was repeated on Granada Plus from 2000 until the channel closed in 2004 and it was then moved to Challenge TV since 2004.


Series Start date End date Episodes
28 September 1981
21 December 1981
26 September 1982
9 January 1983
25 September 1983
19 February 1984
23 September 1984
31 March 1985
22 September 1985
29 December 1985
21 September 1986
4 January 1987
20 September 1987
6 March 1988
18 September 1988
5 March 1989
17 September 1989
4 March 1990
16 September 1990
17 March 1991
15 September 1991
15 March 1992
13 September 1992
14 March 1993
26 March 1994
30 July 1994
1 April 1995
8 July 1995
17 April 2006
22 September 2006

External links

Simple English

Bullseye is a game show hosted by Jim Bowen in the United Kingdom. In Bullseye, people play darts and answer questions to win money. The person who wins the most money has a chance to win Bully's special prize.


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