Bullseye was a popular British television programme, hosted by Jim Bowen.
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 were worth £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 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.
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 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.
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. 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. Celebrity players invariably performed awfully, particularly in the case of an obviously worse-for-wear George Best who managed to miss the board completely. Such stars would usually offer to ‘add some of their own money’ to increase the prize fund from, say, 20 pounds, to 80 pounds or so. Bob Anderson’s score of 380 was the highest recorded on this segment of the show.
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 a red segment twice, 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, 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. In a 2006 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 – however the contestants promptly lost it after doing badly in the final round.
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 at what you would have won”, by Jim. Jim’s assistants would then wheel out the Star Prize from behind a screen, while the audience enjoyed the losing contestants’ astonished faces of despair.
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, the Star Prize was revealed and the show ended. The Star Prize was usually a holiday, a car, a caravan or a speedboat.
Bullseye returned to the UK on Challenge in April 2006, hosted by comedian Dave Spikey. Bully was also redesigned for the new series. 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.
The revived series was, unlike many other game show revivals in the UK, strikingly similar to the original series. Whilst refreshed, the show maintained the original theme music and stings, used a near-identical set to the original series, and a refreshed version of one of the original sets of titles, which sees Bully driving a bus before ejecting his seat and holding onto a flying dart. A cartoon version of Dave Spikey replaced Jim’s in the titles.
The first series of the Challenge revival ran for fifteen episodes until May 2006. The second series began in September 2006, also running for fifteen episodes.