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Highgate theatre director pays tribute to Bullseye host Jim Bowen

Manager of Upstairs At The Gatehouse produced comedian's live shows

15 March, 2018 — By Richard Osley

Jim Bowen

A THEATRE manager who produced many of Bullseye host Jim Bowen’s live shows has paid tribute to his friend after the 80-year-old comedian yesterday (Wednesday).

John Plews, who runs the Upstairs At The Gatehouse theatre in Highgate Village with his wife Katie, said: “We got the call and yes, tears have been shed. He was just a loveliest guys in showbusiness.

“One of the things we’ll always remember, is that what he really like was having a jar with the fans after a show. In fact, he’d even say it on stage sometimes at the end of the gig, ‘see you in the bar afterwards’. He liked sitting down and having a chat – he had this man in the street appeal, he wasn’t a celebrity who disappeared to millionaire’s row.”

Katie and John Plews

Mr Bowen, who gave up a career as a school headteacher to pursue comedy and then a life as a gameshow host, performed at Upstairs At The Gatehouse on several occasions, bringing a live version of Bullseye to a stage more used to all-singing and dancing musicals.

Mr Plews had met Mr Bowen when he produced a live tour of Charringtons’ breweries in the 1980s as a corporate gig.

“We just hit it off,” said Mr Plews. “The thing he always used to laugh about was that he was no good at darts himself. He still turned up one time to the local darts league we run, as a celebrity thrower.”

Mr Plews was helping with media calls yesterday as journalists from around the country reacted to news of Mr Bowen’s death. “Jim was just such a genuine guy, we did five years up in Edinburgh together and afterwards, he didn’t want to go to a five-star restaurant,” he said. “We had fish and chips and went for the pub. Those were the days when people would ask for an autograph, now they just want and a selfie and they are gone.”

Mr Bowen, known for a host of catchphrases such as ‘Super, Smashing Great’ hosted his Sunday tea-time darts gameshow for 14 years, with audience peaks beyond 17 million viewers.

“The game show came along at the right time, when his style of comedy was starting to be viewed as old-fashioned and more storytelling acts, like Jasper Carrott, were coming onto the scene,” said Mr Plews. “For Jim, he just liked telling jokes.”

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