Home TV by Decade TV Shows - 1980s Bullseye


1 9 8 1 – 1 9 9 3 (UK)

A good throwing arm and a fair level of general knowledge were what was required in this long-running game show in which comedian Jim Bowen welcomed three pairs of contestants to throw darts and answer questions to win cash and prizes.

Each team had someone to throw darts and someone to answer questions based on the result of the throw. The first segment of the game involved a standard dartboard.

Two teams were eliminated as the show went on, with the remaining team progressing to Bully’s Prize Board, where the key was to hit the narrow red segments and win prizes – some plates, a vase, or a Goblin Teasmade. A direct hit on the bullseye landed Bully’s Special prize (a set of encyclopaedias).

At the end, players would have the opportunity to gamble what they had already won for a crack at the top prize.

A score of 101 or more with six darts was needed to win – but the non-darts player on the team had to throw three of them, which meant teams rarely succeeded.

After the team had failed, Bowen would trot out his sadistic catchphrase – “Look at what you could have won” – and the torture was completed as a car, speedboat or 4-berth caravan was wheeled out to taunt the losers.


Win or lose, every contestant left with a set of darts, a tankard, a rubber Bendy Bully and a pat on the back from Jim.

Bullseye (co-created by comedian Norman Vaughan) was one of the most unlikely TV successes produced by Central Television.

Host Jim Bowen became notorious for his insensitive handling of contestants (“What do you do for a living?” “I’m unemployed, Jim.” “Smashing!”) and his various gaffes.

Some recorded programmes were allegedly binned, being judged too poor to transmit, but the series quickly built up a cult following, particularly among the young.