Missing the loss of the wildly successful Beat The Clock portion of Sunday Night at the London Palladium ATV had not really filled the gap with a suitable replacement. Hughie Green proved himself the king of public participation shows, but an opportunity came ATV’s way that they didn’t expect and one that would eventually threaten Green’s crown.
ATV had been offered the chance to licence a successful West German game show, Der Goldene Schuß in which a contestant guides a blindfolded marksman around a wall sized target from thirty yards with the verbal commands 'left', 'right' 'up a bit' etc and then told to 'fire' at a specific target. The bullet is in fact a bolt launched from a customised camera with a crossbow attached at the front, referred to as a ‘telebow’. Contestants would first phone into the show from home and guide the marksman to fire and the four with the highest scores would be invited to appear on the show in person the following week to use the crossbow themselves. The two semi finalists with the highest scores have a joystick shootout and the winner of that round would then have the marksman target a treasure chest for the top prize of a hundred guineas, later increased to three hundred guineas.
ATV played a teaser episode of the show on 1st July 1967 in order to find the four studio contestants for the following week, with the first edition proper on 8th July, when the show took the coveted front cover of the TV Times.
Canadian singer Jackie Rae was the first host, but despite his professionalism it was felt he didn't have much of a rapport with the contestants and the audience. A guest on the first series, Bob Monkhouse was then chosen to replace him. His charm and familiarity distracted naturally nervous contestants. After all, they were about to shoot a crossbow bolt at an exploding target on live television in front of sixteen million people.
Many pop acts of the time would appear, plugging their new releases and the beginning of the 1969 series a newcomers spot was offered to pop acts new to TV.
After a wrongful allegation of bribery Monkhouse left the show leading to two of the most woeful hosts even to grace TV. Monkhouse's comments in the final show might have looked like sour grapes, but the audience knew what was happening and was on his side throughout. Although his successors Norman Vaughan and then Charlie Williams were, like Jackie Rae, professionals, they lacked Monkhouse's knack of dealing not only with nervous contestants, but a game show with a history of potential physical danger. Although no one actually got hurt a part of the show's attraction was the potential for it to go wrong. Once again, it was people shooting crossbows at an exploding target on live television. As Monkhouse once said "It wouldn't be The Golden Shot if something didn't go wrong."
The show was dropped by London Weekend during the Norman Vaughan era, suggesting
not only a sudden unpopularity with the audience, but also with the ITV network.
Monkhouse later told the Daily Mirror "Eventually I couldn't watch. It was like the
old gag of seeing your mother-
Like Hughie Green The Golden Shot made stars of two of the host's assistants. 'Bernie' (actually played by several people) was the blindfolded cameraman who would load the bolt at the hosts' request 'Bernie, the bolt!' and then would be instructed by the contestant to move the crossbow into position before firing. When the target was hit (and exploded) assistant Anne Aston would then (after the dust had settled) attempt to calculate the numbers on the hit targets. While no Rachel Riley her attempt at adding and subtracting added another layer of tension to the show. Carol Dilworth and Anne Lloyd were among the many 'Golden Girls' who over the life of the show would introduce the contestants.
Thankfully ATV eventually saw sense and Bob Monkhouse returned in 1974. However, this was merely Monkhouse’s bargaining chip as he agreed to do the show on the condition that he would be hosting the UK version of Hollywood Squares, and sure enough Celebrity Squares replaced The Golden Shot in the schedules in 1975 and Monkhouse found himself with another big hit.
In between the bangs and gags there were musical guests. ATV thankfully wasn't short of money, so sometimes more than one would appear on each show. Paul and Barry Ryan, John Walker, Tom Jones and The Peddlers were among the shows’ first guests.
In 1973 Bell Records released Apple Splitter, the then theme for the show written by Tony Macauley, while on Bob Monkhouse's return a new theme 'Lucky Day' was used, written by Lynsey DePaul and Barry Blue.
To apply for the Golden Shot, write to: ATV, The Golden Shot, 150 Edmund Street, Birmingham, enclosing name, address, telephone number and a photograph. Candidates must be over 15 years of age. Photographs cannot be returned.