Straightforward Chronicle of the Rise and Fall of Televised Darts
Darts was once identified as a working class game suitable for pubs. Then in the Seventies the sport suddenly made it big on television, firstly with the broadcasting on ITV of the News of the World Championshio and subsequently with Yorkshire Television's THE INDOOR LEAGUE. Then the BBC stepped in by televising the Embassy World Darts Championship, which at its height pulled in up to eight million viewers.
Stars like Eric Bristow (aka "The Crafty Cockney"), Jocky Wilson, John Lowe and Phil Taylor became household names, not only for their proficiency at the game but for their appearances on other television shows. Darts became suitable fodder for satirical programs such as NOT THE NINE O'CLOCK NEWS, and commentator Sid Waddell, the erstwhile producer of THE INDOOR LEAGUE, became a celebrity in his own right on account of his hyperbolic descriptions of the matches taking place.
Then the bubble burst. Ratings declined, and the major darts players formed their own association with Sky Television as its partner. The World Championship continued on the BBC - as it does to this day - but darts has never achieved such mass popularity since its glory days. Bristow still tours the country playing exhibition matches in pubs; Taylor continues to win the Sky- sponsored world championships, but the sheen has gone.
Matthew Thomas's documentary told an entertaining tale with contributions from Bristow, Bobby George and others, as well as darts aficionados such as the novelist Martin Amis. There was only one significant yet glaring omission - no one mentioned the quiz program BULLSEYE which ran throughout the Eighties and capitalized on the sport's popularity.
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