My 'Bullseye' Experience
How on earth did I appear on what is the best conversation starter at parties. Mention to people that you've appeared on Bullseye and their eyes light up. I think I give the same reaction when someone mentioned that they have appeared on Pointless (the show I want to be on).
The ad appeared on one of the marvellous listing websites that are around for contestant applications and of course with it being a show requiring a pair, I asked my friend from college days, Richard if he'd like to apply with me so we'd sent the form off thinking nothing will come out of it. Richard had also helped host a quiz with me at the local Social Club in the past so I knew his pedigree with either darts or know how would come in handy.
Well, to be invited for an audition was certainly something out of the blue. The other strange thing was that the audition was to be held in a converted church on the Tottenham Court Road. I remember visiting there before for an audition for 19 Keys (one of the rare game shows that have appeared on Channel 5 hosted by Richard Bacon - one of those occasions where I had won the audition but didn't get on the show).
We both answered a short quiz and both of us threw darts at the board (I imagine it was just to check that we could actually hit the board). Luckily enough at this stage, I was quite a good darts player and a good quiz player (not so sure on either now!!!) so felt happy with how the audition went. I remember an Australian pairing on the day that I thought had a chance of appearing on the show. They had that Bullseye factor.
It wasn't too long before we had confirmation that we had won a place on the show. The actual Bullseye. We couldn't believe it. We were going to Leeds to play Bullseye for real. It was only at this point that the producers had determined who was going to be the thrower and who was going to answer the questions. I wanted to throw the darts and luckily for me, that is what the producers had decided as well. Richard wasn't as comfortable with answering the questions but we didn't care as we were going to be on the show.
Cue lots of 101 practising and throwing with at the bull in the smallest hope that we would get through to that stage. We were allowed to take friends with us who'd sit in the audience for a couple of shows so another Richard (who also helped host the Social Club quiz in the past) and his partner at the time (now wife) Sharon were going to come with us. Richard was happy to drive us up to Leeds and we were happy that we could chill out and not have the drive in our minds when the show was being recorded.
We checked into our hotel first (Premier Inn, Leeds from memory) and then went around the centre of Leeds to while away the hours before recording in the evening. I distinctly remember a massive Poundland which was nice. But the piece de resistance was the trip down the road to Yorkshire TV Studios, home of the legendary show Countdown to record the show.
Bullseye was revived by Challenge TV for two series which was recorded all at once but the first half of the programmes were to be shown in the start of 2010 with the other half in the Autumn of 2010.
On arrival at the studios, Richard and I were led to the Green Room while Sharon and Richard were in the audience queue to go into the studio. As we entered the Green Room, there were other teams there already as there was two shows to be recorded on the Saturday evening. Plus there were a couple of lovely ladies sitting on the sofa with just dressing gowns on, I must admit that this was an unexpected surprise for the Green Room or they had lost luggage on the way to the studios.
One of the teams had a player with his own named darts shirt on, he was quite happy to mention that he had played in BDO tournaments as well. I just thought to myself that there was no chance of us winning tonight if he was on our show. Thankfully, there was a dartboard there to practise on beforehand to try and take my mind off it.
We were taken to the canteen and provided with food and drink but I was so nervous then we had a quick rehearsal of the game and this is when we first met up with the legend that is Tony Green and the new host of Bullseye, Dave Spikey. I know Bullseye afficionados never really warmed to Dave as the host but actually on reflection, I don't think he did too bad a job. Looking back on old Challenge episodes with JB presenting, to compare them directly would be harsh. During the rehearsal, we played the game and it was just a surreal moment to be throwing darts on Bullseye especially on the category board and the prize board which is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. I was feeling relaxed about the whole thing as I wasn't expecting to win with the darts with having Mr PDC experience throwing.
Make up was interesting as a few days prior to filming I had burnt my right forearm with a steam burn. I have one of those automatic egg boiler contraptions and there was a small hole on the top of the plastic lid to let the steam out. I forgot this in a moment of forgetfulness and I had a 1cm burn on my right forearm. I then decided to advise the makeup artist this and if there was anything that she could give me to hide the burn. I think it was mascara but looking at the video, you'd never know it was there.
There were two recordings on the evening so we watched the first programme being recorded in the confines of the Green Room. Hayley Tamaddon (from Emmerdale - and future winner of Dancing On Ice) was the celebrity thrower. In the Challenge series, it was a mix of darts professionals and celebrities throwing for charity. Some were lucky to score 101 with nine darts let alone 301. After watching the episode being recorded, it was suddenly our turn to have the finishing touches of make up applied and play the game for real.
[Spoiler alert - watch the video if you want to watch the result of the show]
We entered the studio and sat on the seat ready for the traditional theme music to appear and there was the start of Bullseye.
Dave Spikey decided to question my parentage and my voice in the introduction but Richard didn't fare so well having to recite his Gladiators story.
So the category board to start and I was feeling happy to throw for a bullseye to start with the thinking behind it being if I missed then I could play catch up or see what the other players were throwing and judge tactics accordingly.
I stepped up to the oche (well a tiny piece of tape on the floor) and aimed for the bullseye. "It's a bullseye" exclaimed Tony Green. I was chuffed to bits. A great marker for the other dart players to try and match. Thankfully Richard was on good form too with a couple of great answers and a guessed one too. Fortunately there wasn't a question which I knew the answer too where Richard didn't know the answer. After Round 1, we had a good lead but with the normal throwing in Round 2, I wasn't counting anything for granted. I knew that only if we had a lead above 180 with the lat throw to go that we'd be safe.
Round 2 - and I was genuinely disappointed with my performance, suddenly I felt as if we were the favourites to go through to the end game and I let it affect my darts. I only hit one treble in the nine darts I had but thankfully, the other throwers weren't throwing massive scores either so we had the highest score after Round 2 and were going to be throwing on the Prize Board.
We had the obligatory commercial break and Richard and I couldn't believe that we had progressed through to this part of the show. Now it was time for the celebrity thrower. It was Iwan Thomas - Athletics legend. He threw a decent score but I was so in the moment, I couldn't remember what he had just scored. I did find out on the internet that it was 113.
So the prize board, six darts for me and three for Richard. They showed the prizes behind each number but I wasn't concentrating so didn't have a clue what was behind each number. I had remembered Bully's Special Prize but didn't really fancy it so set about hitting as many numbers as I could. I hit two out of three so not too bad. Richard was now on the oche for the first time and didn't show his true darting prowess and all three missed a prize. I had to make things look respectable and hit another three prizes so we won: a MP3 player, Digital Video Camera, Espresso machine, a set of saucepans and a dartboard with cabinet.
Now Dave had us in position to ask us the big question. "You have the time it takes for the board to revolve....", we both knew deep down that to risk £400+ and five prizes for 101 or more with six darts was a big gamble. The audience was shouting at us to gamble, but we had agreed to keep what we have and go home. Richard has the honour of telling Dave, "well, we've had a wonderul day Dave but we're keeping the money.". We were warmly clapped off by the audience and in fact we didn't go home just yet, we just stood behind the audience position while Dave asked the next highest scoring couple whether they wanted to gamble. They did and surely with Mr PDC, they weren't going to lose now. Oh, but they did. Sadly for us, but one of the mysteries of the evening was solved however. When the Star Prize was revealed, it was a hottub with those models who were in the Green Room sitting in it. Ah, it all became clear now. We all went back to the Green Room and we had further delight when a box of Bullseye goodies was there for us to take a Bullseye T-shirt, tankard and the marvellous Bendy Bully home with us.
We gave the production team our address and signature to send home the bounty that we won and Richard still found time to burst into Hayley Tamaddon's dressing room (by accident - he says?!!).
We ventured into the car park and we couldn't believe that we had won the best game show of our childhood. The one gameshow everyone talks about (mainly thanks to the famous Peter Kay standup routine). We were just in a state of shock with the use of words temporarily leaving us. We decided to celebrate with our entourage by going to the TGI Fridays that was next to our hotel and we had a lovely time reminiscing over what had just happened.
Don't remember much about what happened after that but we travelled back home the next day with great big grins on all of our faces.
We had agreed that it was just as well that we didn't go for the Star Prize as we lived 20 miles apart so not ideal for sharing!!!
Footnote - when I sent the application form around to my friends to ask who would like to go on the show with me. Two colleagues of my former darts team decided that they would apply to the show as well. Barry and Martin went all the way on their show too, winning more money but not as many prizes however and decided not to gamble.
I am hoping to catch the shows again on Challenge to be able to record the full shows and upload onto YouTube. Unfortunately, I put the original show on DVD and having had so many people watching it, it has become scratched and unwatchable so waiting for them to be on again soon. If I had received the money for every repeat its had, I'd probably have about £10,000 by now.
Bullseye (Part 1)