Jim Bowen
Jim Bowen

James Brown Whittaker[1] (born Peter Williams; 20 August 1937 – 14 March 2018), identified professionally as Jim Bowen, was an English slapstick comedian, actor and tv persona. He was the long-time host of the ITV sport present Bullseye, which he introduced from its starting in 1981 by way of to the tip of its authentic run in 1995.

Bowen grew up in Clayton-le-Moors, Lancashire, and went to Accrington Grammar Faculty. In his early maturity, he turned a instructor, and took half in native dramatic teams. He finally devoted himself to comedy full-time, having been influenced by Ken Dodd, and first appeared on tv in The Comedians. This led to different tv work through the Nineteen Seventies. He achieved nationwide consideration after changing into host on Bullseye, which was a scores success all through the Nineteen Eighties. He subsequently labored for varied radio stations, and continued to carry out rise up excursions. In direction of the tip of his life, he was affected by quite a lot of strokes which made performing troublesome.

Formative years

Bowen was born in Heswall, Wirral, Cheshire, to an single mom[2] and was adopted at 9 months from an orphanage in Wirral,[3] by a working-class couple,[2] Joe Whittaker, a World Battle I veteran[3] and his spouse, Annie Whittaker; who had been each from Clayton-le-Moors, Lancashire.[4] He grew up in Clayton-le-Moors, simply exterior Accrington, the place Joe was a bricklayer for Accrington’s Nori brick manufacturing facility and Annie labored as a weaver at Atlas Avenue Mill.[5][2] He was educated at Accrington Grammar Faculty, however failed all however one among his O-levels and subsequently labored as a dustman in Burnley.[6][5] He later modified his title to James Whittaker.[7]

Throughout his Nationwide Service, Bowen served within the Royal Military Ordnance Corps from 1955 to 1957 as an ammunition inspector with the rank of Corporal. After making a severe error through the Suez Disaster (which he despatched the mistaken batch of ammunition to Barry Docks),[1] he was despatched on a Bodily Coaching course in Aldershot[1] to turn out to be an teacher, and later turned a faculty Bodily Training instructor specialising in gymnastics.[8] He studied at Chester Diocesan Coaching School, finally changing into a deputy headmaster of Caton Main Faculty close to Lancaster.[6]


Whereas educating, Bowen turned concerned with the native dramatic society which kindled his curiosity in present enterprise. Within the Sixties, he labored part-time as a slapstick comedian on the northern membership circuit, balancing his comedy profession along with his day job as a instructor.[6] After having turn out to be disillusioned along with his educating profession, he was impressed to take up comedy full-time, after seeing Ken Dodd carry out a well-received present in entrance of three,500 in Blackpool.[9] He took his stage title from his spouse’s maiden title, Owen, including the preliminary of his mom’s, Brown.[6] The appearance of Granada TV’s The Comedians gave him the chance to seem on nationwide tv which in the end helped persuade him to turn out to be a full-time entertainer.[9]

Tv alternatives adopted, and he made appearances in Final of the Summer season Wine as a library attendant, and on Granada’s The Wheeltappers and Shunters Social Membership.[6] He additionally starred alongside Ray Burdis, John Blundell, Pauline Quirke and the pop group Flintlock in two sequence of Thames Tv’s youngsters’s sketch present You Should Be Joking in 1975 and 1976.[10]

Bowen additionally appeared in TV dramas and comedies. In 1981 he performed “Dad” within the Victoria Wooden tv play Comfortable Since I Met You.[11] He performed 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, enjoying the lodge proprietor Frank “Hoss” Cartwright. He subsequently appeared in Peter Kay’s 2005 Comedian Reduction video for “Is This the Option to Amarillo”?[6]


In 1981, Bowen turned the presenter of a brand new ITV gameshow, Bullseye, which combined common information questions with darts. The present rapidly turned a preferred function of ITV’s schedules on Sunday early evenings, reaching 15–20 million viewers and at occasions acquiring greater scores than prime-time cleaning soap operas. It ran for fourteen years.[12][13] On the again of his fame, he delivered a number of speeches on the Oxford Union.[14]

Bowen was the presenter all through, together with Tony Inexperienced because the darts commentator, and a number of other of the catchphrases he used on the programme turned well-known (although he claims he by no means as soon as mentioned “Tremendous, smashing, nice”).[b] He would warn contestants that in the event that they gambled and misplaced, all they might obtain was their “BFH: Bus Fare House”. “Preserve out of the black and within the pink; nothing on this sport for 2 in a mattress” referred to how contestants would win a prize by hitting the suitable a part of the dartboard, however would lose the prize in the event that they hit it twice.[12] He all the time requested contestants who misplaced the gamble to “have a look at what you might have received”.[15]

Radio and stage

Bowen on the Edinburgh Pageant Fringe in 2008

In 1999, Bowen started presenting on BBC Radio Lancashire however in 2002, after working there for 3 years, he resigned after referring to a visitor on his present as a “nig-nog”. He apologised for the comment virtually instantly, and afterwards said “No racial connotation was ever supposed”.[16] On 27 August 2012, Bowen re-united with Comfortable Daft Farm co-presenter Sally Naden for a one-off present on the station.[17]

Bowen returned to radio in 2009, presenting a mid-morning radio present on 106.6 Indigo FM in Cumbria.[18]

In 2005 Bowen carried out a solo present on the Edinburgh Pageant Fringe about Bullseye, referred to as “You Cannot Beat a Little bit of Bully“.[19] He returned to Edinburgh in 2006 acting at ‘Jongleurs’ from 8–28 August.[20]

Private life

In 1959, Bowen married his colleague, Phyllis (née Owen).[2] She supported him all through his profession, driving him to exhibits, and was by his bedside when he died.[12][9] The couple lived at Melling-with-Wrayton close to Lancaster.[21]

They’d two youngsters, a boy, Peter and a lady, Susan.[6][2] Bowen was a supporter of Blackburn Rovers Soccer Membership.[22]

Bowen beforehand owned Arkholme for Kirkby Lonsdale railway station, on what’s now the Leeds–Morecambe line between Wennington and Carnforth stations. He transformed the primary station constructing into a personal dwelling.[23]

Well being issues and dying

In early 2011, it was introduced that Bowen was recovering within the Royal Lancaster Infirmary, after having suffered from two gentle strokes. He had suffered the primary stroke on 18 February and the second while in hospital.[24] Earlier than his two strokes, Bowen carried out on cruise liners and gave company after-dinner speeches. By 2012 he was recovering and regaining some mobility as soon as extra, and even began performing his stage present “You Cannot Beat a Little bit of Bully”, however suffered a 3rd stroke in November 2014, which left him struggling to stroll and discuss.[25] He died at house on 14 March 2018, aged 80.[12][6]

Stand-up DVDs

  • Stay (15 March 1993)
  • You Cannot Inform These Anymore! (1 December 2003)


  • Media associated to Jim Bowen at Wikimedia Commons
  • Official web site
  • Jim Bowen on the British Movie Institute
  • Jim Bowen at IMDb
Preceded by

Host of Bullseye
Succeeded by

Dave Spikey

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