The former presenter of darts game show Bullseye, Jim Bowen, has died today at the age of 80. Jim was at the forefront of Bullseye from its inception in 1981 until 1995 and played a huge part in the increase of coverage and outreach of darts during its boom in the 1980s. The show, which combined general knowledge and darts ability in a quest to take home as much money and as many prizes as possible, was hugely popular and reached a peak of 17 million viewers in its heyday. Jim’s charismatic but hugely compassionate character led to him becoming a much-loved name on TV and many stars of the sport have today paid their respects to Jim.
‘Jim Bowen was Bullseye’
It may be cliched but Jim was well and truly a one-off. Few can manage to maintain both an energetic and highly enlightening persona on stage and this was very much epitomised in his reign as host of Bullseye. It’s difficult to imagine the show being hosted by anyone else; Jim was Bullseye. He wasn’t one to shy away from catchphrases either. ‘Stay out of the black and into the red, there’s nothing in this game for two in a bed’ and ‘Look at what you could have won’ were two of many one-liners regularly uttered on a Sunday evening.
Jim’s route into comedy was unconventional to say the least. It was seeing two epic Ken Dodd shows in the late fifties – totalling seven-hours – that encouraged Jim to take the dive into the stand-up world. Originally a teacher, Bowen quickly established his name on the comedy circuit and was soon asked to front new ITV game show, Bullseye. The role fit Jim like a glove to a hand, and after an initial rocky start as presenter, he soon bedded into his role and became a household favourite.
“I did the pilot shows for Bullseye and although they never screened them, Jim was hilarious throughout,” three-times world champion John Lowe said of Bowen. “Jim Bowen was Bullseye, the star, the man who made it what it was. I appeared on the show 7 or 8 times and nothing changed. I also enjoyed end of series parties as Jim would get up and sing and his friends would entertain. I guess, in short, Jim Bowen was irreplaceable. A pleasure to have known him.”