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Jim Bowen (born in Heswallmarker, Cheshiremarker, Englandmarker on August 20, 1937; real name Peter Williams ) is an English stand-up comedian and TV personality. He is best-known as the host of the long-running ITV gameshow Bullseye which he hosted between 1981 and 1995.

Early life

Bowen was educated at Accringtonmarker Grammar School, Lancashiremarker and Chester Diocesan Training Collegemarker.

He spent a stint as a dustman in Burnleymarker aged 15.

Bowen was then a teacher at schools in Lancashire and became deputy headmaster of Catonmarker Primary School near Lancastermarker.

Beginnings in showbusiness

While teaching he became involved with the local dramatic society which kindled his interest in showbusiness. In the 1960s he worked part-time as a stand-up comedian on the northern club circuit, balancing his comedy career with his day job as a teacher. The advent of Granada TV’s The Comedians gave Jim the opportunity to appear on national television which ultimately helped persuade him to become a full-time entertainer.

Television opportunities followed and Jim made appearances on Granada’s The Wheeltappers and Shunters Social Club as well as Thames Television’s late-night chat show Take Two.


In 1981, Bowen was appointed presenter of a new ITV gameshow Bullseye The format, devised by Andrew Wood, mixed general knowledge questions with darts. The show quickly became a popular feature of ITV's schedules early on Sunday evenings, and ran for 15 series until it ended in 1995. Bowen was the presenter throughout, and several of the catchphrases he used on the programme became well-known.

Jim Bowen's Bullseye catchphrases and common phrases

  • "Are you asking me or telling me?"
  • "All for the throw of a dart!"
  • "Let's have a look at what you could've won!"
  • "It'll take me two minutes to count this money out, see you in a couple of minutes"
  • "Take your time"
  • "Listen to Tony"
  • "BFH - Bus Fare Home"
  • "WABS"
  • "Let's check it with Bully"
  • "(Faces, Places, Sport, Spelling, Britain, Books, Showbiz, History, Words, Affairs) we'd like"
  • "You can't beat a bit of Bully!"
  • "The lights will tell you what you've won"
  • "Wouldn't be the same without a bit of Bully on Sunday, would it?"
  • "Sunday wouldn't be Sunday without a bit of Bully"
  • "Remember lads, if you fail to reach a hundred and one or more with six darts, you get your BFH: Bus Fare Home"
  • "Thanks for saving us some time"
  • "(Ladbrokes version) Take your time please! See you soon!"
  • "Step up to the oche"
  • "Stay out of the black, and in the red - there's nothing in this game for two in a bed"
  • "Super, smashing, great"
  • "I'm going, I'm not going back on"
  • "The ones that are lit are the ones that you can hit"

Other television work

Bowen has also appeared in TV dramas and comedies. He played a crooked accountant in ITV's 1982 drama Muck and Brass, and later guest starred in BBC1's Jonathan Creek and Channel 4's Phoenix Nights.


In 1999, Bowen began presenting on BBC Radio Lancashiremarker but after working there for three years, resigned after referring to a female guest on his show as a "nig-nog". He admitted that, even though he apologised for the remark almost immediately, he believed his showbusiness career was over.

One-man show

Bowen returned to the limelight in 2005, when he performed a solo show at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe about Bullseye, called "You Can't Beat a Bit of Bully". He returned to Edinburgh in the summer of 2006 performing at ‘Jongleurs’ from August 8 to 28th. He now takes this package around smaller theatres where he often indulges his audience with two hours of banter and an effigy of Tony Green.

Musical career

In a failed attempt to get a Christmas number 1, Bowen released a version of the hit "Walk the Dinosaur", originally made famous by Was . The single included both a jazz and a rap version. However, the single failed to make the desired impact.

Return to radio

Bowen can now be heard presenting a mid-morning radio show on 106.6 Indigo FM in Cumbria.

External links


  1. My life's super, smashing, great! This is Lancashire, February 18, 1998
  2. Comedian Bowen quits over race gaffe BBC News, 8 October, 2002
  3. Next up - Supertramp, smashing, great! Media Guardian, 25 March, 2009

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