By Peter Raven
One of ATV’s most popular and enduring game shows started in July 1967. The Golden Shot was a quiz show with a difference, the contestants not only answered questions, but guided a cross-bow that was mounted to a camera, operated by a blindfolded camera man, at a target, in order to try and win prizes. They also got to shoot arrows at targets themselves in a later part of the game! The arrows or ‘bolts’ were each loaded into the cross-bows by a member of the ATV special effects department who was known on the show as ‘Bernie the Bolt’. The three ‘Bernies’ across the years were Alan Bailey, Derek Young and Johnny Baker.
The original run came from the ATV studios at Elstree and starred Canadian singer and record producer Jackie Rae. The following year, the show hosted by comedian Bob Monkhouse, moved up to ATV’s Birmingham studios, a converted cinema in Aston. Here, the technical aspects of the show proved tasking for the staff at the ageing studios, which broadcasted the show live on a Sunday evening.
By 1970 the series, along with the rest of ATV’s Birmingham production, had moved to the new ATV Centre on Bridge Street in Birmingham and as a result into colour. The show was broadcast live from Studio One at the new complex each Sunday tea time. Bob Monkhouse remained the host until 1972, but was apparently asked to leave, following what later transpired to be a mis-understanding on the part of ATV programme controller Francis Essex.
The following season was presented by comic host Norman Vaughan.After that Yorkshire comedian Charlie Williams took on the show, assisted by regular ‘golden girls’ Anne Aston and Cheri Gillham. Neither Vaughan or Williams really matched up to Bob Monkhouse and the shows ratings started to dip. Neither host appeared comfortable with the completely live aspect of the programme, and the fact that things frequently went wrong.
Behind the scenes, another ‘regular’ to The Golden Shot was warm-up man Alton Douglas, who started working with the show during Bob Monkhouse’s first stint on the show. Alton did find himself in the unusual position of having to actually present the programme on June 17 1973, due to Norman Vaughan having lost his voice. It was a hugely successful show with people ringing and writing in to ATV congratulating Alton. This was, however, to be the one and only time Alton would stand in for the main presenter.
In 1974 Francis Essex asked Bob Monkhouse to return to the show, acknowledging the mistake he had made in asking Bob to leave. Bob gladly returned to the show in 1974 accompanied by ‘Golden Girls’ Anne Aston and Wei Wei Wong, and the shows ratings improved for its final year into 1975. The final edition of The Golden Shot went out on March 16 1975. Bob Monkhouse would return later that year in the new ATV game show Celebrity Squares.
Very few editions of The Golden Shot were recorded and kept in the archives, as it was deemed unnecessary to keep tapes of gameshows beyond the legal requirement, as they would not be repeated. As a result most of the tapes were re-used with only a handful surviving in the ATV archive, some as black and white telerecordings.
Peter Raven is Co-Producer and Director of “From Headlines to ‘Tight-Lines’ – The Story of ATV Today” and Director of “From ATVLAND In Colour”.