Catching a repeat of Bullseye recently had me thinking fondly back to the early eighties and a time when I seemed to have no worries apart from the usual trials and tribulations of school life.
As I watched this classic game show I started to think ‘was Bullseye really any good or were we just clinging onto the last threads of the weekend before enduring double maths the following day’? I actually think it was a bit of both really. If you reminisce down the pub on a Friday night, all lads together, as they say, I think you would find it almost impossible to find a bloke who would say ‘That show was crap!’ Men of a certain age like me and who like a drink at the weekends view Sunday tea times circa 1982 through proverbial rose tinted glasses.
The compere Jim Bowen, though already a stand up comedian, will forever be remembered for handing two blokes from Birminghan, sporting suspect moustaches and stone washed jeans a hunk of rubber in the shape of a bull while he counted a wad of fivers out in the time it took a commercial break to finish. No matter if the contestants had won thirty quid or three hundred, it took Jim exactly the same time to count that cash out.
Bullseye was by no stretch of the imagination high brow, the contestants were always the same, either the aforementioned mates from the pub or a husband and wife team with the wife always answering Jims ridiculously easy questions while the husband impressed his masculinity and threw the ‘arrows’. The first rounds questions always involved a spelling round which was particularly enjoyable as the viewer got to watch a graphic of ‘Bully’ walk across the screen with a dictionary checking the answer, emitting a resounding ‘moooooo!’ if the answer was correct.
With the first round out the way Jim got to get shut of the first pair out of the three couples who started the game. A pat on the back from Bowen and a quip about the lovely part of the country the couple were from was enough to keep them happy, and with the promise of sharing the forty quid they had won they toddled off back to Cradley Heath or some other suburb of Birmingham.
The chance of a real bona fide darts player to come on and do their bit for charity was another highlight of the show. Nine darts and the score were turned into cash for the charity of the contestant’s choice. Jim always nodded his head and muttered ‘very worthwhile charity that’ even in the unlikely event that the money was going to be given to the cats home instead of the local children’s respiratory unit. This segment of the show was all well and good if we had someone of Eric Bristow’s calibre on, but it didn’t quite work as well when women’s champion Maurine Flowers took to the oche. I m sure I watched an episode where the referee Tony Greene fabricated a score because she kept hitting eleven or twenty six, I m certain of it! The groan of a contestant was almost audible if Maureen was on the show. ‘Hard lines’ was Jims stock phrase if the professional failed to perform, ‘always hard under the lights’ he would say even though they performed half pissed back in the day on the telly every other Saturday afternoon
The original question ‘Was Bullseye any good?’ can be settled once and for all with the most exciting finale to any tea time Sunday sports based quiz ever! After the final round and we were down to the last pairing, with prizes reaching the heady heights of a clock radio, a faux fur coat and a couple of hundred quid, Jim with his serious poker face would ask the couple to gamble their winnings against a mystery Bully s star prize. With tension mounting and the studio audience cajoling them to take the plunge we waited with bated breath. Amazingly some contestants were quite happy not risking it and sharing the cash they could have earned on time and a half overtime on Saturday morning, and the possible rift over a Morphy Richards Teas maid would be settled down the local the following Friday night. The teams who had the balls to accept the challenge of scoring 101 or more with six darts were hoping for the car (which was usually a bottom of the range Fiat Uno). Bizarrely though, when the prize was unveiled, the revolving floor would sometimes turn round to reveal a speed boat! Now I’m not saying a speed boat wasn’t a nice prize but two mates from Smethwick winning a bloody boat? Winning Bullseye didn’t suddenly turn you into James Bond surely? I always imagined that boat stuck on a drive in the middle of Brum taking up valuable space where the Fiat Uno or Fiesta should have been.
So to sum up, yes in my opinion Bullseye was good; especially if you enjoy watching disappointment on grown men’s faces at the realisation they live nowhere near a bloody lake!