Darts Gameshows On TV

TV darts gameshowsWith one more week to go until live darts returns and therefore no darts betting tips for this week, let’s use our time to go on a trip through television history and find out how darts got to where it is today – through the medium of gameshows.

Darts has occupied an interesting place on UK television since the 1970s. Back then, it was still very much part of the pub game genre of sport which, not unlike snooker, meant that a pint and a smoke were part of the matchday ritual.

Although it has never quite left behind its beer-swigging image, nowadays darts has become a sub-cultured sport of its own. The competitors, never of athletic build, still wear ludicrously garish shirts and sport really rather superb beer guts, but that hasn’t halted the sport’s relentless rise to the top.

With this image cemented, it’s worth looking back at darts’ place on British TV over the last few decades. Darts first made it on to the telly in 1962 when Westward Television started up their own televised invitational championship. Eight years later, ITV launched the News of the World Championship, but both are long since forgotten with their mission statement (to make darts popular) very much unfulfilled.

Then gameshows happened.

The Indoor League

Rewind back to 1972 and, for those old enough to remember, think back on a show that was perhaps the most curiously British thing ever made for TV. Indoor League, produced by Yorkshire Television and the forever missed but never forgotten Sid Waddell, was a show all about the very worst in old bar games.

Indoor League was hosted by former Yorkshire and England cricketer “Fiery” Fred Trueman who presented his show in a trademark drab-as-they-come cardigan, with an old English pint jug in one hand and a smoker’s pipe in the other. It was a look that our Fred really rocked, to be fair:

TV darts gameshows
Opening to the theme music Waiting for You by Andre Brasseur and recorded at The Queen’s Hotel and The Irish Centre in Leeds, we’re talking about a show where members of the audience played indoor games, most of which were pub games like bar billiards, table football, bar skittles, arm wrestling, shove ha’penny, bowling, dominoes and (slightly less ridiculously) nine-ball pool as well as our own beloved darts.

So pub-like was this show that the producers saw nothing wrong with popping their logo on a freeze frame of fat bloke with his beer belly dripping over his trousers (belt not required, obviously). I am unreliably informed that said fat guy was Alan Evans, who was famous for his ability to check out 150 with three bullseyes.

Why anyone would want to watch table football I have no idea, but somehow the show ran for five years, with the first airing only in Yorkshire. So pleased were they with their creation that it went nuclear and was broadcast nationwide thereafter.

Sadly, Fred, who ended each show with the phrase, “ah’ll see thee”, passed away in 2006. As well as being a first class cricketer for county and country, he helped launch televised arrows at a time when the game was in its infancy (the Darts World Championship was broadcast for the first time the same year, 1972). He leaves behind a fine legacy of darts gameshows.

I only wish they would bring it back; just leave out the table football, obviously.

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TV darts gameshowsWhich leads us to the daddy of them all: Bullseye. Proving that you can’t beat a bit of Bully, Sunday television in the 1980s was dominated by ITV’s Big Match which was the forerunner to Sky’s Super Sunday prior to Premier League Football.

This was hotly followed by Bullseye. Although the show is no longer broadcast (barring a failed Ant and Dec reboot), it is one of the most treasured and iconic British TV shows of all time. Pubs today still install quiz machines where a Bullseye game is almost always on offer.

This show, first broadcast in 1981, was darts and darts alone. Part quiz, part arrows, the teams were often, but not always, compiled of husband and wife; one amateur plus one piss-poor darts player; with Jim Bowen as host and numerous darts boards to play at over three rounds.

There were question and answer rounds, a gambling element (don’t worry, they always left with at least their BFH, bus fare home, and a Bendy Bully), real money prizes and Bully’s star prize – usually a caravan or a speedboat, the latter almost always inevitably won by a couple from Birmingham.

They even managed to squeeze in a professional’s appearance where a player would try to throw for money for a charity, the record for which is held by one Alan Evans.

In round one, the better of the two would step up to aim for one of ten segments on a specifically redesigned board to win cash (the value of which was determined the dart’s proximity to the bull), as long as it landed in the quiz category selected by their partner.

By round two the familiar board returned, and players played for the right to answer a question. In round three, the last remaining team played at Bully’s Prize Board, which contained prize-filled red segments and empty black segments and a bullseye, where Bully’s special prize was won.

At this point, Bowen instructed his guests to “Keep out of the black and in the red, nothing in this game for two in a bed.” Once prizes had been won, players were invited to gamble the lot for a shot at Bully’s Mystery Star Prize, won by beating 101 with three darts each.

Super, smashing, great stuff.

TV darts gameshows

Present-day darts shows

TV darts gameshowsHosted by the perpetually confused Davina McCall, One Hundred and Eighty attempts to recreate a real darts tourney experience by filming live at Blackpool’s Winter Gardens, with all the walk-ins and theatrics that people have come to expect.

The shouty crowd behave as they do at an event by dressing up and poking each other with big foam fingers. The game itself features two proper pros (Phil Taylor, Adrian Lewis and Michael Van Gerwen have all made appearances) paired up with members of the public that play in both quizzes and a host of darts games. The first of these is a game of doubles, duelled over by the pros, which elects the night’s playing money. All the while, darts commentator and former England cricket captain Andrew ‘Freddie’ Flintoff (right) is watching on and passing comment.

While nothing compares to Bully, it deserves another chance, if only to win the game new fans. It serves as a decent replication of a televised tournament, if a bit shinier and more illuminated.

We can certainly be sure that Sky favourite Freddie, when not shifting fish and chips off Southend Pier or stripping in Vegas with the Chippendales, would be on board; he is either in need of the cash or unable to turn down a job. But what about Alan Evans?

TV darts gameshows

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Top Five Darts Bust-Ups And Fights

With its pub game background, darts can sometimes be a volatile sport – as proved back in June’s World Cup when Michael Van Gerwen and Adrian Lewis exchanged angry words in a World Cup row.

With this in mind, and no live darts to tip this week, we thought that now would be the best time to look back at five more memorable bust-ups on the oche.

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Phil Taylor vs Raymond Van Barneveld (2012 World Championship)

After their 2012 World Championship semi-final at Alexandra PalacePhil Taylor weirdly took offence to a strong handshake from his “friend” and competitor Raymond Van Barneveld at the end of the match.

Failing to see the irony, “The Power” (who won the match 6-4) claims to have been hurt by the big Dutchman’s strong post-game handshake, after which the pair became embroiled in a shoving match before a stroppy Taylor stormed off stage.

For his part, Taylor apologised by text to Van Barneveld, who immediately dropped the row and forgave Taylor. Taylor, after admitting that he felt ashamed of himself, even considered his future in the game at the time.

Speaking afterwards, Taylor said: “It’s upset me; of course it has. To put the record straight, Raymond is a very strong lad and when he shook my hand and pulled me, he hurt me a little bit.

“That was all it was and I reacted, to be honest with you, disgracefully. I am ashamed of myself and I feel terrible. At the minute, I could just walk away tomorrow night and retire.”

In truth, it is just as well Taylor didn’t quit at the time; he went on to win his 16th world title that year.

Top Five Darts Bust-Ups

Justin Pipe vs Kevin Painter (2012 World Grand Prix)

Back in 2012, one-time tree surgeon and youth boxer turned pro darts player, Justin Pipe, upset Basildon-born ex-builder Kevin Painter with a supercharged celebration in Dublin in the World Grand Prix.

Pipe won the game to book a place in the quarter-final of that year’s event, but it was his body-popping, breakdancing celebrating that annoyed “The Artist”. Pipe, who has a slow throwing style due to a 1993 motoring accident that left him partially paralysed for three months, expressed remorse over social media following the wild celebrations that provoked such an angry response from his opponent.

In truth, the game was over when Pipe threw a double four and he should be allowed to celebrate – even if punching the air repeatedly before doing “The Worm” may be classed as excessive. Either way, a touchy Painter treated Pipe to a few strong pats on the back of the head before issuing an angry X-rated dressing down after the handshake had taken place.

Michael Van Gerwen vs Peter Wright (2015 Premier League)

Five years ago on a Premier League trip to Exeter, Michael van Gerwen and Peter Wright fell out over the latter’s attitude to crowd showmanship. Wright, at the oche, tactically played to wind up and annoy his opponent which, given Van Gerwen’s form at the time, looked like it would be a smart decision.

Looking like he was about to throw his dart, Wright, who bases his wind-up playing style on the wrestler Ultimate Warrior, turned to the crowd and called for more noise before going on to take his shot in front of a clearly annoyed Dutchman.

Unfortunately for “Snakebite”, he missed the double 20 he was aiming for but, despite making a fool of himself, the match was eventually tied 6-6. In the after-match television interview, the Dutchman said: “what that guy does has nothing to do with darts. He does it on purpose. He’s not a professional.

Wright responded: “Grow up you big baby! It’s about entertaining a crowd. I’m entertainment.”

Top Five Darts Bust-Ups

Paul Nicholson vs Phil Taylor (2011 UK Open)

Back in 2011, at a UK Open quarter-final at Bolton’s Reebok Stadium, “The Asset” Paul Nicholson behaved more like an ass than an asset when he mockingly waved goodbye at the crowd after eliminating a stroppy Phil Taylor in the last 16.

The Newcastle-born Australian had already gained an aggressive reputation on the darts circuit but upsetting the king of the oche pushed the crowd over the edge.  Known as the “Bad Boy” of darts, Nicholson, wearing a tie and sunglasses, is not your usual player and this wasn’t the first or last time the pair have fallen out.

On this occasion, however, Nicholson won 9-8 before bidding farewell to “The Power” by finger-waving dismissively at the crowd while Taylor was collecting his match equipment. Taylor missed the dubious incident as it took place behind his back, but friends watching at home soon contacted him to inform him of Nicholson’s gesture.

Afterwards, Taylor had this to say: “I thought it was very disrespectful. I don’t expect people to bow and curtsy in my presence, but I’ve won 70-odd titles, including 15 world championships, and I think I deserve better than that.

“The next time Paul wants to wave me off into the sunset, or make sarcastic gestures at my expense, he should do it to my face and not behind my back. I don’t see why I should have to put up with opponents taking the piss when my back is turned. Fortunately, I know of a good place where we can put it right, just me and him. On the dartboard. We can sort it out there.”

For his part, the unpopular Nicholson insisted the gesture was not meant to be an insult.

Adrian Lewis vs Peter Manley (2006 World Championship)

Ten years ago, at a World Championship quarter-final match, Adrian Lewis was so upset at Peter Manley’s antics that he stormed off stage.

The event, back when it was hosted at the Circus Tavern, became heated after “One Dart” deliberately slowed down the tempo of the match when collecting his darts and at one point even paused after missing a shot at a double.

Lewis then accused Manley of swearing just as he was about to throw and lodged a complaint with the match referee, before exiting stage left while trailing 3-1.

Despite returning to the oche to try and claw things back, “Jackpot” eventually lost out to Manley, who is famous for these kind of shenanigans, and who went on to complete a 5-3 victory. A beaten Lewis, then just 20 years old, explained that “[Manley] turned round and said I was tutting when I wasn’t, and was saying things when I was throwing. I didn’t actually hear what it was but it was swearing. Phil [Taylor] told me to walk off if anything like that happened. But Peter beat me fair and square. I’ll be back.”

Top Five Darts Bust-Ups

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Place Your Bets For The European Darts Open 2016

Gary Anderson
The PDC European Tour action resumed in Dusseldorf yesterday and, although some of the earlier first round matches will have started by the time you read this, the real action gets underway tomorrow when the big boys enter play.

The tournament runs from July 29 – 31 at the Maritim Hotel in Düsseldorf, Germany, with all matches to be contested over the best of 11 legs.

Absent from the sixth event of the series will be Phil “The Power” Taylor, beaten finalist in last weekend’s Matchplay final, and fellow Stoke thrower Adrian Lewis, leaving a clear straight shot for the likes of Michael Van Gerwen, Peter Wright and Gary Anderson, pictured above after his win in Tokyo. These all feature in a field of 48 players, including last year’s winner Robert Thornton (100/1), competing over three days of action for the £115,000 in prize money.

Darts man of the moment (indeed the past few years) Michael Van Gerwen is aiming to follow up last Sunday’s World Matchplay victory with his fourth European Tour triumph of the year, having also claimed the glory in Venray in the Netherlands, Munich and Gibraltar. Bet365, who incidentally will be streaming live coverage of the event, are laying evens for him to do exactly that.

World Champion Gary Anderson, himself having a storming 2016, is naturally the second seed and can be backed at 4/1, while fellow Scot Peter Wright is the next in the betting at 9/1, also at bet365. James Wade and Dave Chisnall are also in attendance and both are 25/1, although in the absence of England’s top two players it is hard to look beyond the first three, so we’ll go with Gary Anderson on this one as the only likely threat and challenger to the big Dutchman.

Save for Thursday’s qualifiers, the internet-streamed tournament begins for real on Friday with the first round where 32 qualifiers all face off, before the top 16 seeds enter play on Saturday in the second round, with the tournament concluding on Sunday.

The European Darts Open will be streamed worldwide through www.LIVEPDC.TV and bet365 for all subscribers.

European Open 2016 tournament schedule

All times BST

Friday July 29

First Round, Afternoon Session (12pm-4pm)

  • John Henderson v Jan Dekker
  • Ritchie Edhouse v Harry Ward
  • Wes Newton v Shaun Griffiths
  • Kim Viljanen v Martin Schindler
  • James Richardson v Daniele Petri
  • Robbie Green v Daryl Gurney
  • John Michael v Fabian Herz
  • Jonny Clayton v Andy Hamilton

First Round, Evening Session (6pm-10pm)

  • Mark Frost v Stefan Stoyke
  • Dimitri Van den Bergh v Jeffrey de Graaf
  • Holger Rettig v Steve West
  • Jamie Caven v Christian Kist
  • Andy Jenkins v Devon Petersen
  • Max Hopp v Andy Boulton
  • Cristo Reyes v Kyle Anderson
  • Gerwyn Price v Tony Newell

Saturday July 30

Second Round, Afternoon Session (12pm-4pm)

  • Terry Jenkins v Clayton/Hamilton
  • Stephen Bunting v Frost/Stoyke
  • Robert Thornton v Newton/Griffiths
  • Jelle Klaasen v Edhouse/Ward
  • Benito van de Pas v Green/Gurney
  • Mensur Suljovic v Michael/Herz
  • Ian White v A Jenkins/Petersen
  • Michael Smith v Richardson/Petri

Second Round, Evening Session (6pm-10pm)

  • Simon Whitlock v Price/Newell
  • Kim Huybrechts v Van den Bergh/de Graaf
  • Dave Chisnall v Henderson/Dekker
  • Peter Wright v Rettig/West
  • Gary Anderson v Viljanen/Schindler
  • James Wade v Hopp/Boulton
  • Michael van Gerwen v Caven/Kist
  • Alan Norris v Reyes/Anderson

Prize fund:

  • Winner: £25,000
  • Runner-up: £10,000
  • Semi-final losers: £5,000
  • Quarter-Final losers: £3,500
  • Third round losers: £2,000
  • Second round losers: £1,500
  • First round losers: £1,000

Van Gerwen Bests Taylor In World Matchplay

Michael Van Gerwen made it back-to-back Blackpool wins last weekend when he saw off the challenge of Phil Taylor to win this year’s World Matchplay title, his 12th victory of 2016.

World Matchplay
It was a brutal performance by the Dutchman who closed the game over fifteen-time Blackpool winner Taylor with an 18-10 victory at the Winter Gardens on Sunday evening, hitting two-thirds of his darts at doubles as well as 12 maximums.

Van Gerwen lost to Taylor on the Winter Gardens stage two years ago, but there never looked like there would be a repeat of the defeat even after a maximum helped Taylor take the opening leg. Van Gerwen responded immediately and closed at 70 to level and 77 to break Taylor’s throw in the third leg. Soon after, a brilliant 11-dart finish, which included two 180s, saw the Dutchman move 3-1 ahead.

Taylor struck back in the fifth leg and finished 70 on the bull, only for MVG to respond with a two-dart 93 checkout which was followed by finishes of 65, 110, tops, 63 and 76 over the next six legs to move 11-4 clear of Taylor.

Taylor won two out of the next three, and also claimed legs 11 and 12 to pull things back to 13-8 but a 13-dart finish from the Dutchman was followed by a checkout of 112 as the match swung firmly in the Van Gerwen’s favour. For what is was worth, Taylor rallied once more with a 130 finish and then took out 81 for a 12 darter to stay within touching distance at 15-10, but, with the end in sight, Van Gerwen landed double 16 to complete a brilliant triumph.

The win here means that van Gerwen becomes only the third player in history to retain the prestigious World Matchplay title, a feat shared only by the vanquished Taylor and Rod Harrington back in 1998 and 99.

Van Gerwen said: “It feels amazing to win this title again. I think I played well all through the tournament and I dominated the final – against Phil you always need to step up a bit and I did. To beat Phil is always nice because he’s a legend and I’ve got so much respect for him. He knows that and that makes it even better to win this trophy by beating him.”

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