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Bullseye (UK game show)

Created by Andrew Wood
Norman Vaughan
Presented by Jim Bowen (1981–95)
Dave Spikey (2006)
Starring Tony Green (Referee: 1982–95, 2006)
Country of origin United Kingdom
Original language(s) English
No. of series 15
No. of episodes 356
Running time 30mins (inc. adverts)
Production company(s) ATV (1981)
Central (1982–1995)
Granada Yorkshire (2006)
Distributor ITV Studios
Original channel ITV (28 September 1981 – 8 July 1995)
Challenge (17 April – 22 September 2006)
Picture format 4:3 (1981–1995)
16:9 (2006)
Original release First run:
28 September 1981 – 8 July 1995
Second run:
17 April – 22 September 2006
Related shows One Hundred and Eighty

Bullseye is a British television programme. It was first made for the ITV network by ATV in 1981, then by Central from 1982 until 1995, and was hosted by comedian and TV presenter Jim Bowen.[1]


  • History 1
    • Contestants 1.1
  • Rounds 2
    • Bully's Category Board 2.1
    • Pounds for Points 2.2
    • Charity interlude 2.3
      • Bronze Bully Trophy winners 2.3.1
    • Bully's Prize Board 2.4
    • Bully's Star Prize Gamble 2.5
  • Revival 3
  • Theme music 4
  • Presenters 5
  • Production 6
  • Transmissions 7
    • Repeats 7.1
  • References 8
  • External links 9


Bullseye was created and owned by Andrew Wood, who came up with the idea after doing research into aspects which created mass appeal for all viewers in a gameshow.[2] Programme associates on the show were Mickey Brennan and Roger Edwards.

The series centred on darts, which 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 (for male contestants), a silver goblet (for female contestants) and a 'Bendy Bully' a rubber model of the show's mascot.

The show originally aired on Monday nights in September 1981 and produced by ATV. In 1982, Bullseye was moved to Sunday afternoons, with a new co-host, Tony Green, a professional darts commentator, being brought in to keep track of the scores, and it helped to achieve around 17 million viewers. Although Green (who appeared in the first series as a charity thrower) was initially brought in merely to act as a scorekeeper and commentator, over the years his role grew until by the time the show ended he was essentially the co-host.

Bullseye was moved from its traditional Sunday afternoons to Saturday afternoons from 1994 to 1995. A fifteenth series was planned in 1996, but Andrew Wood refused since it required new conditions by the ITV network centre, and he believed it would lose its appeal.[2] After an eleven-year hiatus, Bullseye was revived for a new series, which was recorded for the digital channel Challenge produced by Granada at Yorkshire Television in the Leeds Studios and was hosted by Dave Spikey.

On screen, the show evolved as follows:

The first three series had the players throwing (from the point of view of the viewers and the audience) towards the right for the first round and to the left for all subsequent rounds. From the fourth series, all three boards in use rotated on a single pillar and all throwing was seen to be done to the right. The first four series featured opening titles of Bully jumping out of a sign and walking into a pub to play darts, this was shortened from series 2 onwards, with new theme music and musical beds from series 4.

From series 5, the entire set was essentially inverted. The audience would now be seen in shot throughout the show and the viewers would see all darts being thrown to the left. From the audience point of view, everybody continued to throw to the right. Series 5 also saw the introduction of Bully driving the team bus for the opening titles. This also featured cartoon depictions of Eric Bristow, John Lowe, Dave Whitcombe, Keith Deller, Cliff Lazarenko, Bob Anderson, Jocky Wilson and Mike Gregory at the back of the coach.[3]

In the 13th series the opening titles changed again and featured Bully jumping out the sign on the back wall and charging around trashing the set. There were no major set changes aside from Jim Bowen's entrance through the opening that would hide the star prize - previously he would come through the audience, having done this since the second series.

The character 'Bully' was ambidextrous. In the opening credits of the show, he was shown to throw his darts with his right hand; however, prior to the advert break midway through the show, he can be seen to write "End of part one" using his left hand.

Jim Bowen once described Bullseye as "the second-best darts-based game-show on television". There are no others.[4]


The revived series presenter Dave Spikey had appeared as a contestant on the show in the 1980s versions.[5]

In 1989, John Cooper appeared on the show. He would later be convicted of multiple burglaries, armed robberies, and, in 2011, following advances in forensic science, two double murders, one rape, and another sexual assault. Footage of his appearance on the show was later used by the prosecution to match him to witness reports at the time.[6]


Bully's Category Board

In round 1, the darts players threw one dart at a board in which each sector represented a different category of question (such as Pot Luck, Faces, Places, Sport, Showbiz, Affairs, History, Books, Words, Britain, Spelling). The first set of questions were worth £30 each, the next set £50, and the final set were worth £100. The cash prize for hitting the board varied depending on what part of the board was hit; the outer ring was £30, next inner ring £50, then £100 and £200 for the bullseye. If contestants hit a category which they had not chosen, they would win no money for the throw, and could only win money through answering the question for that category if it had not already gone.

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. After this the couple with the highest score went through.

The dartboard sectors in Series 1 had lower values compared to later series - (In order of moving into the board) £20, £10, £30 and the Bullseye was worth £50 (which also give the team the chance to answer any question on the board). The teams earned money by getting the question right to where the dart lands in the corresponding value. It was also preceded by an on-screen "order of play" tournament, which was done off-screen in later series.

Pounds for Points

In round 2, the darts players threw three darts at a traditional matchplay dartboard, with the highest scoring team winning the question. The value of the question was the winning score. An incorrect answer passed the question to the other couples in value order. Initially, if the throw resulted in a draw then a re-throw by the tied players would take place for the value of the original throw. In the later series however, the re-throw wouldn't occur - the question would be open to either team on the buzzer instead. 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 ad break.

In the first series "pounds for points" didn't apply. Whichever team scored the most from throwing three darts, each time would get the chance to answer a choice of a question valued for £25, £50 or £101.

Charity interlude

For part two, a professional dart player (or occasionally a celebrity up to and including series 4 and the 2006 series) would throw nine darts for a charity of the winning couple's choice. If the dart player scored 301 or more the donation was doubled. Celebrity players were given a 60-point head start but often performed badly and would often add some of their own money to beef up the prize fund.

Officially the highest score is 401 held by Alan Evans (in series 4) and the lowest was 95 by Cliff Lazarenko (in series 7). The first player on the show to achieve 301 or more with nine darts, was professional darts player Linda Batton, who scored 304 on the second show of the first series.

Bronze Bully Trophy winners

Bully's Prize Board

In this round the final pair were faced with a large prize board containing large black sectors, smaller red sectors 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 sector they hit (however, if they hit a red sector twice, the prize was lost - hence the catchphrase "Keep out of the black, and in the red; nothing in this game for two in a bed". However, they could win the prize back by hitting it again). Sometimes though, 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 car or legendary "TV with wired remote control") 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 2006 episode, Bully's Special Prize was a fully functional Bullseye Fruit Machine.

During series 1, the prize board had a green-red colour scheme however this was replaced in series 2 with the board that would remain for the rest of the series.

In the 1991 Christmas special of the show, Dennis Priestley and John McCririck playing as a professional darts player/celebrity guest combination managed a 100% record with their nine collective darts taking out all eight main prizes and Bully's special prize, all of which went to nominated charities across the UK.

Bully's Star Prize Gamble

Having completed Bully's Prize Board, the winning pair had "the time it takes the board to revolve" to decide whether to gamble their winnings from the prize board for the mystery Star Prize which was "hiding behind Bully" (in reality, hidden behind a screen in the studio adorned with the Bullseye logo). From series 11 onward, they also had to gamble the money they had won earlier in the show (it was at this point that the "Bus Fare Home" phrase came about). If they gambled, they then had to score 101 or more on a standard matchplay dart board with six darts (three darts each & non dart-player first). Contestants who failed to reach 101 were then invited to "come and have a look at what you could have won", by Jim. Jim's assistants would then wheel out the Star Prize from behind a screen to the sounds of a remixed "sad" version of the theme music.

If the couple who took part in Bully's Prize Board refused to gamble, the second-placed 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 - (this happened for the very first time in Series 4), 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. In the last two series, after prize limits had been lifted, the Star Prize would sometimes be "Bully's Treasure Chest" of £5,000.

If in the rare case that both the second and third place couples had tied on equal points (series 8 onwards), 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.


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 board game 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 2006.

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 Granada decided that a new series of Bullseye would be produced early the following year, on Challenge and that the show was to be hosted by comedian Dave Spikey. Bully was also redesigned for the new series, albeit very similar to the Bully used in the original series.

The new series of Bullseye returned on Challenge in April 2006. The show maintained the style of prizes from the original, bar white goods— none of the cash prizes had increased in value since the first show, although the bullseye on the category board had decreased to £150 from the £200 of the original series. 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...".

The revived series was strikingly similar to the original series. Whilst refreshed, the show maintained the original theme music and stings and used a remade version of the original's second title sequence, Bully driving the team bus. A cartoon version of Dave Spikey replaced Jim's in the titles. The Challenge revival ran for thirty episodes.

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 role. Jim Bowen did not appear on the Bullseye episode; instead, he appeared on the marathon's remake of The Golden Shot, acting as "Bowen the Bolt" (instead of "Bernie the Bolt"). At one point, he did make the comment to Kay, "Vernon, this is a bit like Bullseye used to be...throwing arrows for prizes!"

Theme music

The theme music for the show was written by John Patrick, who was Head of music department at ATV and Central.

The show was unusual in having two different closing theme tune arrangements — a rapid, upbeat version (in the style of Spike Jones, complete with comical sound effects) played when the contestants won the Star Prize, and a more bluesy one in a minor key played when they lost or nobody took the gamble.



  • Tony Green (1982-95, 2005,2006,2007 Gameshow Marathon)



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.


Series Start date End date Episodes
1 28 September 1981 21 December 1981 13
2 10 October 1982 23 January 1983 16
3 27 November 1983[7] 3 June 1984[8] 26[8]
4 2 September 1984[9] 20 April 1985[10] 28[10]
5 25 August 1985 30 March 1986 28
6 31 August 1986 8 March 1987 28
7 13 September 1987[11] 13 March 1988[12] 27[12]
8 18 September 1988[13] 30 April 1989[14] 27[14]
9 29 October 1989[15] 13 May 1990[16] 25[16]
10 2 September 1990[17] 17 March 1991[18] 27[18]
11 1 September 1991[19] 8 March 1992[20] 26[20]
12 6 September 1992[21] 28 February 1993[22] 26[22]
13 26 March 1994[23] 23 July 1994[24] 18[24]
14 1 April 1995[25] 20 May 1995[26] 8[26]
15 17 April 2006[27] 28 July 2006[28] 30[28]


Bullseye was repeated on UK Gold from 1996 to 1998, then it was repeated on Granada Plus from 2000 until the channel closed in 2004 and it was then moved to Challenge which is where it remains today. It was also repeated occasionally on defunct channels Ftn and Virgin1 (later Channel One).


  1. ^ Education. "Think Britain hasn't dumbed down? Just watch Bullseye". Telegraph. Retrieved 2012-12-27. 
  2. ^ a b
  3. ^ Episode 12 of series 9 of Bullseye, mentioned in Jim Bowen's opening remarks
  4. ^
  5. ^ "Dave Spikey keeps his eye on the Bullseye (From The Bolton News)". 2006-04-13. Retrieved 2012-12-27. 
  6. ^ John William Cooper Gets Four Life Sentences For Double Murders After Cops Use Bullseye Footage Sky News Article, 26 May 2011
  7. ^ "BULLSEYE (Series 3, Episode 1)".  
  8. ^ a b "BULLSEYE (Series 3, Episode 26)".  
  9. ^ "BULLSEYE (Series 4, Episode 1)".  
  10. ^ a b "BULLSEYE (Series 4, Episode 28)".  
  11. ^ "BULLSEYE (Series 7, Episode 1)".  
  12. ^ a b "BULLSEYE (Series 7, Episode 27)".  
  13. ^ "BULLSEYE (Series 8, Episode 1)".  
  14. ^ a b "BULLSEYE (Series 8, Episode 27)".  
  15. ^ "BULLSEYE (Series 9, Episode 1)".  
  16. ^ a b "BULLSEYE (Series 9, Episode 25)".  
  17. ^ "BULLSEYE (Series 10, Episode 1)".  
  18. ^ a b "BULLSEYE (Series 10, Episode 27)".  
  19. ^ "BULLSEYE (Series 11, Episode 1)".  
  20. ^ a b "BULLSEYE (Series 11, Episode 26)".  
  21. ^ "BULLSEYE (Series 12, Episode 1)".  
  22. ^ a b "BULLSEYE (Series 12, Episode 26)".  
  23. ^ "BULLSEYE (Series 13, Episode 1)".  
  24. ^ a b "BULLSEYE (Series 13, Episode 18)".  
  25. ^ "BULLSEYE (Series 14, Episode 1)".  
  26. ^ a b "BULLSEYE (Series 14, Episode 8)".  
  27. ^ "BULLSEYE (Series 15, Episode 1)".  
  28. ^ a b "BULLSEYE (Series 15, Episode 30)".  

External links

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