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Jim Bowen (1981-1995)
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ITV: 28 September 1981-8 July 1995 
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Challenge: 17 April 2006-22 September 2006
ATV (1981)
Central (1982–1995)
Granada Yorkshire (2006)  
ITV Studios

Bullseye was the long-running game of darts & trivia.


The game is based on the traditional game of darts which is popular in the UK. Three teams of two contestants competed in each edition. One member of each team answered the questions, and their partner threw the darts.

Each edition went in the following order:

Bully's Category Round

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In this round, one player from a team threw one dart at a board divided into ten segments; each segment 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 (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 in the 2006 revival). If a contestant 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 that 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. Another catchphrase would occur when the questions were asked. If a contestant wasn't sure about the answer and said "Is it..." followed by the answer, Bowen would ask "Are you asking me or telling me?".

In the first few series, only the contestant whose partner threw the dart could answer the question. This was later changed to it being offered on the buzzer to the other two contestants for the same value as a bonus.

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.

The dartboard segments in Series 1 in 1981 had lower values - (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

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In this round, the darts players threw three darts at a time at a traditional matchplay dartboard, with the highest scoring team given the chance to convert their 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. In the earlier series, if the throw resulted in a draw then a re-throw by the tied players would take place. In the later series however, the re-throw wouldn't occur and the question would be open to either team on the buzzer.

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, with Jim advising the viewers that counting the money would "take me two minutes". He would then say "See you in a couple of throws!" (instead of "See you in a couple of minutes").

In the first series the "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. Also, in very early editions, the scores reset to zero for this round.

Charity Interlude

Immediately at the start of Part Two, a professional darts player or other celebrity (up to and including Series 4 and the 2006 revival) threw nine darts, with the score converted to money for the charity of the final contestant's choice. A score of 301 or over was doubled. Starting in Series 5, at the end of the series, the darts player who got the highest score 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 the end of the original run, the charity segment was exclusive to professional dart players. Celebrity players invariably performed poorly. Such stars would usually offer to 'add some of their own money' to beef up the prize fund.

Officially the highest score was 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 (including a perfect 180 on her second throw).

Bronze Bully Trophy winners

  • 1985: John Lowe
  • 1986: Lionel Sams
  • 1987: Ray Farrell
  • 1988: Mike Gregory
  • 1989: Eric Bristow
  • 1990: Bob Anderson
  • 1991: Mandy Solomons
  • 1992–1993: Mike Gregory
  • 1994: Kevin Painter

Bully's Prize Board

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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. 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, 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.

During the first series, the prize board had a green-red colour scheme; however this was replaced in the second series 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 phrase "all you'll win is your BFH – Bus Fare Home" came about). If they gambled, they then had to score 101 or more on a standard matchplay dartboard with six darts (three darts each & non dart-player first – i.e. the question answerer). 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, 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 (inevitably ducking out claiming that they'd already had a "smashing day, Jim" and would like "to give the others a chance"), 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 and again in Series 7), 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 the 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 (after 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.

Additional Pages

List of Bullseye episodes and specials
List of Celebrities on Bullseye
List of Bullseye Bully's Prize Board Prizes


Andrew Wood & Norman Vaughan


Official Site