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Article: Jim Bowen: The Man Who Proved to a Nation you Can't Beat A Bit Of Bully

Jim Bowen: The Man Who Proved to a Nation you Can't Beat A Bit Of Bully

Peter Wright, Bullseye, Premier League, Darts, Michael Smith Peter Wright's head artwork of Bullseye could not have been more appropriate. The outstanding design by wife Jo for last Thursday’s Unibet Premier League night in Nottingham received widespread acclaim, and rightly so. The irony is, back in the 80s, it was Bullseye that painted a very different picture of darts. Prior to the placid, friendly game show preceding Songs of Praise, the arrows had a very different perception to the masses. To most, darts was just a huge bunch of pot-bellied, vodka and lager-swilling, chain-smoking louts just out for a damn good p*** up. Oh and they also pointlessly threw these pointy things in arenas of blue-filled smog stinking of a urinal. Suddenly Bullseye parachuted darts into the Sunday afternoon, post-roast-slumped-on-couch with the in-laws and grandparents. But instead of having a face of burly, butch blokes, darts had a new poster boy, the housewives choice Jim Bowen. The cheeky patter, glint-in-eye under those big glasses a la Dennis Taylor, Bowen gave the arrows a new persona. The players were the stars the show and were suddenly charming, unassuming chaps. They were polite, eager-to-please and hey presto darts had a new audience. A whopping 17.5million of them every Sunday. Yes some of it was cheesy. But then again watch any game show from the 80s like 3-2-1, Sale of the Century or the Price is Right and you’ll cringe at all of them. But the catchphrases of Bullseye were still filling thousands of Tweets and newspaper headlines at the sad passing of Jim, 80, last Wednesday. Almost 40 years on, the sayings like “Look what you could’ve won” and “Super, smashing, great” had survived the test of time. That underlines how good it was. Every childhood revisited just by hearing those lines. And every time raise a smile. Jim and Bullseye did so much for teasmades, speedboats, Corby trouser presses and most of all the sport of darts. He was a genuinely kind-hearted, rib-hurtingly funny guy. I met him a few times but I remember mostly being on set for a show called TV Times Star Family Challenge in 1984, my darts commentator father Dave and I were on it, so was Jim and his daughter. [caption id="attachment_31196" align="aligncenter" width="1097"]Eric Bristow, Jim Bowen, Bullseye, Red Dragon Darts Social media was flooded by tributes to the great Jim Bowen[/caption] We were filming in Sutton Coldfield and Bowen was the life and soul. Also in the same programme was Eric Bristow and Jocky Wilson. It was a barrel of laughs. The night was raucous and Jim had the place in stitches. I remember vividly it was the night Liverpool beat Roma in the European Cup final and Bruce Grobelaar’s famous wobbly legs in the penalty shoot-out. But Jim was the conductor of all the chaos, hilarity and fun. No wonder there was such an outpouring of affection for the man from the world darts last week. Wayne Mardle said: “I wouldn’t miss Bullseye at 5.30pm when I was a youngster, then my mum would tell me to go and have a bath. “You always wanted to see them win and score 101 and if they didn’t call they got was BFH…Bus Fare Home. That was the worst prize you could ever get. “But I tell you what that show and Jim Bowen did wonders for the world of darts. It’s a real shame.” Raymond van Barneveld, Jim Bowen, Bullseye, Red Dragon Darts Three-times world champion John Part added: “It gave darts something outside of the normal boundary and profile to the original darts players, showed them as human beings and wanting to just have fun.” The world of darts can never underestimate what that TV show achieved. It proved to an entirely new massive audience that you really Can’t Beat A Bit Of Bully. Thanks for all the fabulous memories Jimbo. By Phil Lanning (@lannomedia)

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