Bulls eye!

Darts is one of those things I have absolutely no interest in. Whatsoever.

So it was a bit weird when I started to become obsessed with an old game show here in the U.K. called Bullseye, which involves darts. Let me explain.

It all started out innocently enough as I found watching repeats of Who Wants to be a Millionaire, on the game show channel here called "Challenge", very soothing. With everything that's going on in the world, and the constant crush of information and hysteria on social media that's out there, this game show harks back to a more innocent time -- where the possibility of winning a million pounds could apparently fix a person's life.

But then something caught my attention. I noticed there was a show after Millionaire, involving the puzzling combination of darts playing and quiz questions. In this show, which aired mostly in the 1980s and 90s, three teams of contestants compete for money and prizes. One person plays darts and the other answers questions. It makes absolutely no sense why these two skills are linked together on the same show, but it certainly hasn't stopped me from finding the whole thing mesmerizing.

There's just the strangeness of the concept, but it's also the fact that I love getting a glimpse into something that existed before I moved to this country. It's a window into a time gone by.

The really strange thing when you move to another country is that you don't know the history. After 15 years of living in this country I have a pretty good knowledge of local celebrities and culture, but it only starts in 2002. Most things before that need to be explained to me (including biscuits). I didn't know who Jimmy Saville even was, and I hadn't ever seen that video clip of Prince Charles saying "whatever love is" (jerk).

So Bulleye gives me a glimpse. There's a bit at the beginning where Jim Bowen the host (with his dulcet calming tones) introduces the sets of guests and asks them to tell their funny anecdotes or asks them socially awkward questions like "So why is it that you're between jobs?". Most of the time the accents are so strong that I can't really understand what they're saying. I also don't get the jokes, because the audience is already laughing while I'm still trying to figure out what they've said, let alone why it's funny. It seems like Britain was a different place back then, or at least one that is more foreign to me than the place I live in now.

It's also a reminder -- particularly in these times -- at how much we have moved on at least from overt sexism. Bowen's instinctive "good girl" when a woman answers a quiz question correctly is incredibly jarring and something you would never see now.

When you look beyond that one grating verbal tick, Bowen is a nice calming host. He's always reminding the players that it's "early days" when they get the first quiz question wrong. And he tells them not worry when they are knocked out and really talks up the consolation prizes. He's also always invoking "Bully" when he speaks -- the cartoon bull mascot of the show -- as if he is very much real. I certainly believe!

I wonder if British expats in America enjoy seeing old episodes of the Price is Right with Bob Barker as much as I enjoy watching Bullseye. I wouldn't be surprised. But I feel it's really not fair. There is no American game show that is quite as cool. Or maybe it's that novelty always wins out. If it's new to you...

Have you ever stumbled on something cultural from the past that intrigues you?

Photo credit: Leo Reynolds dartboard via photopin (license)


  1. I think if a Brit expat wanted to catch up on American culture via TV, I'd recommend Family Feud or Match Game.

    But the combination of darts & questions sounds amazing.

    1. So they have Family Feud here, but I can't remember what it's called! I don't remember Match Game...


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