Jim Bowen, entertainer

Jim Bowen, who has died at 80, was a genial stand-up comedian and TV personality who for 14 years hosted the hugely popular ITV game show, Bullseye.

Jim Bowen

A schoolmaster-turned-entertainer, he attracted large audiences with his North country humour, his cheery disposition and his infectious catchphrases on a show which ran virtually non-stop from 1981 to 1995.

Bowen was born Peter Williams in Heswall, Cheshire, on August 20, 1937. He was educated at Accrington Grammar School and Chester Diocesan Training College. He became a teacher at schools in Lancashire and subsequently deputy headmaster of Caton Primary School near Lancaster.

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While teaching, he became involved with the local dramatic society which kindled his interest in showbusiness. In the 1960s, he worked part-time as a stand-up comedian on the northern club circuit.

The advent of Granada TV’s The Comedians gave him the opportunity to appear on national TV, which helped persuade him to become a full-time entertainer.

Television opportunities followed and he appeared in Granada’s The Wheeltappers And Shunters Social Club as well as Thames Television’s late-night chat show, Take Two.

Bowen has also appeared in TV dramas and comedies. He played a crooked accountant in ITV’s 1982 drama, Muck and Brass, and later guest starred in BBC1’s Jonathan Creek and Channel 4’s Phoenix Nights.

A keen railway buff, he purchased the former stationmaster’s house at Kirkby Lonsdale station and installed his family there.

In 1999, he began presenting a show on BBC Radio Lancashire, but resigned after three years, when he made a disparaging remark to a guest. He said at the time that his showbusiness career was over.

However, he returned to the limelight in 2005, when he performed a solo show at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe about Bullseye, called You Can’t Beat A Bit Of Bully.

He is survived by his wife, Phyllis, and two children.