The Golden Shot, 1967
A hugely popular Sunday afternoon game show in it’s time and commonly associated with Bob Monkhouse. Based on the German TV show Der goldene Schuss, over it’s nine year run it has one of the most interesting back stories.
Produced by ATV it ran for nine years between 1967 and 1975. Originally the show was hosted by Canadian singer and record producer Jackie Rae.
Bob Monkhouse guest starred on the tenth episode, he would later reveal in his autobiography, he did so fully intending to demonstrate to the producers that he should replace Rae as host. The plan worked, and Monkhouse took over as host from the 15th show onward. With his quick wit, and willingness to revel in the show’s chaotic nature was a hit with audiences and by programme 26, the viewing figures were up by 50%. Bob Monkhouse often chatted to the participants as a fill in whilst the crossbow was adjusted after the previous round. This was seen as a perfect way to fill the time as the show was live and contestants took part over the telephone.
The show moved to it’s Sunday afternoon slot in 1968. The move proved to be a good one as audience levels increased peakeing at 16 million.
Early shows were filmed at ATV’s Borehamwood studios near London, when the show moved to it’s Sunday afternoon slot filming moved to the Alpha studios at Aston in Birmingham. The studio facilities in Birmingham, situated in a converted cinema, were rather run-down and unreliable (they dated from the start of ATV’s franchise in 1956) and simply not well-suited to a fast-moving live show like The Golden Shot; as such, technical failures were common, but Monkhouse was well able to cover for them through his quick-witted humour. In 1970, the show moved to the new ATV Centre in Birmingham.
Change Of Host
In 1972, Monkhouse was spotted accepting a gift from Wilkinson Sword representative Bob Brooksby. The gift was actually a collectible book entitled: The Shy Photographer (however this did not become public knowledge until Monhouse’s autobiography: Crying with Laughter was published in 1993).
In the week following the gift incident, a Wilkinson Sword “his and hers” grooming kit was the bronze prize on the show. ATV’s production controller Francis Essex suspected collusion and fired Monkhouse, although publicly it was announced that he “was being released to find opportunities for his abilities elsewhere”.
Later the same year the show returned with a new host: comedian and entertainer Norman Vaughan, who should have been an ideal replacement for Monkhouse. However the pressure of the live show seemed to overwhelm him and he was never as confident a host as Monkhouse. Audience figures began to drop and in late 1973, it was time for another new host.
This time it was comedian (and former footballer) Charlie Williams, he had found fame on the hit ITV show ‘The Comedians’. He too struggled with the pressure of a live show and only lasted six months.
Now the show needed a new host, on 20th March 1974, Francis Essex (the man who had actually fired Monkhouse) met with Bob Monkhouse to invite him back onto the show. Monkhouse was more than happy accept the offer, though, his agent negotiated that he would only return if ATV took up an option on the American game show The Hollywood Squares.
This was agreed, and Monkhouse returned as host of the new season of The Golden Shot on 14th July 1974. Very soon it was obvious that the show was back at its peak; however, the last edition of the show was transmitted on 13th April 1975. ATV felt that the show had a long successful run, and it was retiring various old shows to make way for new ones, including Monkhouse’s version of Hollywood Squares, Celebrity Squares, which debuted on 20th July 1975.
A crossbow is attached to a television camera and then guided by a member of the public, before shooting a bolt at an exploding target embedded in an apple positioned on a topical backdrop (usually an enlargement of Bob’s own cartoons).
In the first round, the crossbow was operated by blindfolded cameraman Derek Chason receiving instructions from a contestant, either playing at home by phone, or in studio from an isolation booth (“Up, up, up, STOP, left a bit, STOP, down a bit, STOP, left a bit, STOP . . . FIRE!”).
In later rounds, the contestants operated the crossbow themselves. Contestants who successfully negotiated seven (later four) rounds of targets won a reasonable prize; those who missed got a negligible prize.
Jackie Rae (1967)
Bob Monkhouse (1967-72, 1974-5)
Norman Vaughan (1972-3)
Charlie Williams (1973-4)
Wei Wei Wong
Bernie The Bolt
Produced By: ATV
Original Transmission Dates: 1st July 1967 – 13th April 1975
The show was revived again in two forms, although never as a full series of Golden Shot.
In 1991, the idea was used in the final round of the later Bob Monkhouse gameshow, Bob’s Your Uncle, under the name “The Dart Through the Heart”. A gameshow for newly married couples, the winning couple would compete for a jackpot where one partner was blindfolded and the other guided them in trying to shoot a dart into a heart-shaped target. The armourer in this instance was female, and introduced as “Donna, the Dart”.
On 1st October 2005, as part of their Gameshow Marathon celebrating 50 years of the ITV network, Ant & Dec hosted a one-off revival that was the only edition of the series to be broadcast live. The show was revived again as a one-off on Vernon Kay’s Gameshow Marathon on 28 April 2007.