The Golden Shot
Jackie Rae (1967)
Bob Monkhouse [*] (1967-72, 74-5)
(but see Trivia below)
Norman Vaughan [*] (1972-3)
Charlie Williams [*] (1973-4)
[*] Hosted the last show on 13 April 1975
Vernon Kay (2007 special)
Original hostesses (known as the Golden Girls, natch): Anita Richardson, Andrea Lloyd and Carol Dilworth (otherwise known as the mother of Chesney Hawkes). Subsequent hostesses included Yutte Stensgaard (1970-1), Lee Patrick, and Anne Aston (famous as she was supposedly unable to count without using her fingers).
"Heinz" (armourer): Hannes Schmid (format inventor). "Bernie the Bolt"s: Derek Young, Alan Bailey, Johnny Baker. Also, Jim Bowen in the 2007 Vernon Kay one-off.
ATV London for ITV, 1 July to 30 December 1967 (27 episodes)
ATV Midlands for ITV, 6 January 1968 to 13 April 1975 (310 episodes)
Granada and Thames for ITV1, 1 October 2005 (Gameshow Marathon one-off)
ITV Productions and TalkbackThames for ITV1, 28 April 2007 (Gameshow Marathon one-off)
Long-running ITV Sunday night skill game. The contestants would mostly be telephone callers on the show, and they would play the game by instructing a blindfolded cameraman to adjust their aim in order to fire a 'telebow' (a crossbow tied to the camera) at targets.
The bow was loaded by the show's feature character, Bernie the Bolt. The programme is noted for it not only having three Bernies but a number of different hosts, including Bob Monkhouse twice.
Successful shots resulted in prizes of increasing value; unsuccessful ones earned fairly derisory consolation prizes. When the programme gained popularity with Monkhouse presenting, Lew Grade moved the show to Sunday afternoons, a traditional graveyard slot in the schedules that would scrape 2-3 million viewers. The programme transformed the schedules, picking up 16 million at its peak.
There were numerous gaffes on the show, which was always billed as downmarket. It also had the added problem that - being a phone-in, it had to be a live show.
One studio contestant managed to knock herself out while on the toilet. A clergyman who had criticised the show for being unsafe was invited to the studio, only to be hit by a bow that ricocheted off the studio lights. Another stray bolt hit a female contestant, who was saved thanks to her shoulder pads. One contestant couple went for a cup of tea during the live show so the hostess had to grab some quick replacements and introduce them to the unknowing host. And on one famous occasion, as recounted in Bob Monkhouse's autobiography, it was discovered that a phone-in contestant was trying to direct the crossbow from a telephone box and looking across the street into a TV shop.
Host Charlie Williams (below) was once surprised when a different hostess arrived on set, because no-one on the production team had told him that the regular hostess was ill.
And on yet another occasion, the hostess introduced the contestants by the wrong name. You could tell this was quality TV, folks.
"Bernie, the bolt" (Originally it was "Heinz, the bolt" but the original armourer - format inventor Hannes Schmid - went back to his home country. Although his replacement was called Derek, Monkhouse told him to choose a name that made it alliterative so he plumped for the pseudonym Bernie.) In addition, Vernon Kay's phrase was, "Bowen, the bolt", since Jim Bowen was assisting him during that one-off special.
"Left a bit, right a bit, fire!"
The programme was based on a German format (Der Goldener Schuss by Hannes and Werner Schmid), which was - as these European things always are - a mixed variety format. The idea for that show had, in turn, come about from the Swiss legend of William Tell.
Provided by Jack Parnell's orchestra.
The original "Bernie" was studio technician Derek Young, but he had to be replaced when the programme changed its studio, from Elstree to Birmingham. However, the Bernie name was maintained throughout the rest of the series.
Jennifer Hall tells us:
- I worked on The Golden Shot for 6 years, both at the Aston and Bridge St. Studios. Cockups weren't scripted! Once Heinz had helped set up the show, the job of loading the crossbows went to Special Effects, which was Alan and John. Years later, this was moved to the camera department, so an extra cameraman was scheduled on each show to play Bernie, suitably suited and booted.
According to Golden Shot warm-up man Dave Ismay, in his book Bob Monkhouse Unpublished:
- To win the big money... the contestant had to break a single thread that was stretched down the centre of the target. The bolt shot from the crossbow had to hit the thread full on for the target to open and a cascade of gold coins to tumble out. That was the theory. In practice, however, if the thread were really tightly drawn, then the vibration of the bolt hitting in close proximity would cause it to break. Conversely, if the thread were loose, the bolt could hit dead centre and it wouldn't break. It's strange to relate now that the winners were always nice contestants whom Bob and the crew really liked and wanted to win. Miserable and maybe pompous and demanding players never had cause to celebrate. You need to draw your own conclusions as to why that was!
ATV originally promoted the series as "the liveliest live show ever!". After seeing the first episode, one critic responded, "this is the deadest dead duck ever".
According to the end credits during Bob's first run, targets were adapted from drawings by Mr. Monkhouse himself!
Off the Telly interview with Bob Monkhouse
Off the Telly interview with Bernie the Bolt