British Game Show produced by ATV that aired live on ITV. The show, based on the hit German game Der Goldene Schuss, debuted on 1 July 1967 as a weekly Saturday programme with actor Jackie Rae as host, but he proved unfitting for the show and was replaced on 7 October by Bob Monkhouse, who helped drive the show creatively and visually.
The format basically involved contestants firing crossbow bolts at exploding targets placed on a wall some distance away, usually in a drawing by Monkhouse and embedded in an apple. In early rounds, the crossbow was operated by cameraman Derek Chason (who had the crossbow mounted on his camera), receiving instructions from a contestant (either in-studio or by phone) while blindfolded; later rounds had the players operating the crossbow themselves or directing the camera-mounted crossbow using a joystick.
All this aired live note , a perfect recipe for something to go wrong anything could happen, and usually did. It was always claimed that an "electronic interlock" would prevent the crossbows from firing if anyone happened to be standing in front of them, which of course was complete hogwash (and some scary near-misses had to be covered up).
In January 1968, The Golden Shot moved to Sundays and grew to an audience of 16,000,000 as a result. At the same time, the show moved from ATV's Borehamwood Studios in London to Alpha Studios at Aston in Birmingham, where it remained until moving to the ATV Centre in Birmingham during 1970.
The show continued on its way until 1972, when ATV production controller Francis Essex sacked Monkhouse: Bob had been seen accepting a gift from Bob Brooksby, a representative of the Wilkinson Sword company, and Essex suspected collusion as a Wilkinson Sword "his and hers" grooming kit was the bronze prize on the next episode. (It turned out that the gift was a collectible book called The Shy Photographer and there was no collusion, but this wasn't public knowledge until Monkhouse published his autobiography Crying with Laughter in 1993.)
Monkhouse's Grand Finale was dark: during the live broadcast, Bob made some rather dark comments about his ousting and replacement Norman Vaughan. The credits rolled over a staff party, during which a female assistant took a drink from it and over to one side...where Vaughan stood, took a sip, and immediately began shouting as if drunk.
Vaughan, like Rae, was not a good fit for the show and viewing figures dropped. In Fall 1973, Norman was replaced by Charlie Williams, who was considerably better but nonetheless struggled. Monkhouse was reinstated on 14 July 1974, and made his return by noting that The Golden Shot was just like his home: "filthy and full of strangers".
Even with a return in viewing figures to decent levels, ATV opted to end the show on 13 April 1975 in favor of a new show on 20 July: Bob's Celebrity Squares, which ran until 7 July 1979. note
The 2010 BBC documentary The Secret Life of Bob Monkhouse contains a decent-sized look at the show from 25:57-35:43 and 41:15-43:13; the first part covers Bob's first hosting stint (although no mention is made of Rae), while the second part covers the period with Vaughan, Williams, and Monkhouse's return (although no mention is made of the show's demise).
Game Show Tropes in use:
- Bonus Round: Hit the thread stretched across the target dead-on, open a treasure chest for lots of money. note
- Game Show Host: Jackie Rae (1967), Bob Monkhouse (1967-72), Norman Vaughan (1972-73), Charlie Williams (1973) and Monkhouse again (1973-75).
- Lovely Assistant:
- Anne Aston was the main one, reading out and totalling the players' scores, although she seemed to have problems with mental math.
- A "Maid of the Month", usually a glamour model of the era, demonstrated the prizes and announced the contestants. When Vaughan became host, this role was filled for his first few months by Cherri Gilham.
- Wei Wei Wong became a regular co-hostess upon Monkhouse's return in 1974.
- Studio Audience
- Derek Chason, the blindfolded cameraman who operated the crossbow camera.
- "Bernie", the studio technician who loaded the crossbows ("Bernie, the bolt!"). Format co-creator Hannes Schmid was the first in this role and was known as "Heinz". After Schmid returned to Germany, the name "Bernie" was selected for Added Alliterative Appeal even though none of the technicians who filled the role (Alan Bailey, Derek Young, and Johnny Baker) was named Bernie. "Bernie" never spoke on-air.
This series provides examples of:
- Home Participation Sweepstakes: Many of the first-round contestants played by phone. In theory, said contestants would play from home, but in one famous instance recounted in Bob Monkhouse's autobiography, a phone-in contestant played from a phone booth watching the show on the storefront of a TV shop — midway through their round, a clerk at the TV shop went and changed the channels on the TV sets!
- It Will Never Catch On: The series was initially promoted as "the liveliest live show ever!" Following the first episode, a critic responded "this is the deadest dead duck ever!"
- Sound Proof Booth: First-round contestants who played in the studio did so in an isolation booth with a TV showing the image of the camera-mounted crossbow and a telephone through which they issued their instructions to the camera operator. In later rounds where two contestants take turns, if there was a choice between targets of increasing difficulty and potential points, the second contestant would put on a blindfold and headphones with music piped in while the first one took their shot to avoid any undue advantage (if they saw the first contestant missing completely, they would know there was no point in trying for the harder targets).
- Stuff Blowing Up: The apples had explosives embedded in them to make them blow up if they were hit dead-on.
- Timed Mission: There was a time limit to shoot the target, 20 seconds in rounds where the contestants operated the crossbow, 30 seconds in rounds where the contestants guided the camera-mounted crossbow.
- William Telling: The game was inspired by the William Tell legend, hence the apples and crossbow.