Saturday, July 31, 2010

Bread, cheese, beer and darts.

I'm thoroughly enjoying my jaunt to Germany following the darts for Bravo.

The darts itself has been exciting - last night there were a couple of first round matches that you wouldn't have expected to see til the later rounds in most formats - but also it's exciting to be involved in the broadcast.

I've done live stuff from time to time but doing live sport is different because the content is constantly changing and decisions about what or won't happen next are taken very quickly and a lot of stuff produced on the fly. That keeps you on your toes.

There was one interview on the first day where I couldn't hear the link in my earpiece so was - presumably - just standing there doing nothing for a few moments.

Then I suddenly heard a lot of noise in my earpiece and assumed (correctly) they were yelling at me... so I started the interview.

But then I spent the rest of the interview feeling paranoid that, having not heard the link in to the interview, I wasn't going to be able to hear them telling me to wind it up either and that somehow threw my microphone technique out of whack as my concentration went elsewhere. Sorry, Terry.

But that was just one interview out of ten or eleven (or more?) that I've done so far and the only one where it's been an issue so I'll take that as good odds on the steep learning curve involved in doing something new.

By the way, some of the interviews are live while others are on tape and go into the show if the unpredictable schedule allows but all, I think, will end up on the Bravo website.

The biggest - and most obvious - problem on Day 1 was with the scoring.

There was a software issue with the system that puts the score on screen which meant the wrong score - or no score - was there at times. Too many times. This has a knock on effect because it's a reference point for the commentators and for the spotter.

For those who don't know, the spotter is an expert who knows the game inside out and backwards and tells the director where he thinks the player is going to aim next.

But if he can't see the score, he doesn't necessarily know whether the player is on to a double yet and that makes it impossible for him to call properly making the camerawork look worse than it ought to be.

Luckily for us we have Eric Bristow spotting. He's amazing and it's largely down to his quick thinking that the shots of the game were decent on what could have been a disastrous first day.

As it goes it seems to have been quite well received and the software was kicked around overnight and the problem sorted out. I think the graphics were all pretty smooth on the second day. As a result, everything seemed to run a bit more smoothly.

It gets incredibly busy from here on in... with afternoon and evening sessions through today and tomorrow. Your tweets with comments and questions for the players etc. have been really interesting and useful for the show - so thanks for that.

The loveliest comments have been from people saying that they haven't watched darts before but that they've given it a go and really enjoyed it. That's ace. Of course it's not for everyone... but it does get very dramatic and what they're doing on the stage is ridiculously difficult and hugely impressive as a result.

A lot of my input is filmed in the player's lounge. There's a practice board in there which largely goes unused because there's also a practice room with four boards in it... so I've whiled away some time throwing my own darts every now and then. Ridiculously, I hit a 140 with my first three arrows. My cameraman saw it happen. I wish I'd left it at that and not thrown anymore. He'd have thought I was actually good. It's too late now, he knows the truth. (I did beat him at round-the-clock yesterday though).

Not the easiest place for a non-meat eater, this. I've largely survived on bread and cheese so far. I've bought fruit, though. Vegetables? They can wait.

Oh... by the way... because I'm over here, we won't be doing the radio show this Sunday. But we have made a mini-podcast to fill the gap so I'm sure that'll go up some time on Sunday or Monday.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Live From Dinslaken

I'm getting more than a little excited by this:

I'm also getting a fair few e-mails and comments from people who've seen the trailer and are more than a little surprised that I'm involved. Believe me, nobody is more surprised than me. But I'm a fan and I was available so I could hardly say no now could I?

I'm not going to be commentating mind you - they have a team of experts on board for that - my role is more minister without portfolio. What I want to do is convey my own enjoyment of the darts in the hope that that'll bring the inner-dart-fan out of a viewer here or there. I did an interview with a pdc fansite here about how it came about and obviously, as the event approaches I'm thinking more about how I'll play things.

One thing I'm aware of is that Bravo isn't a sports channel per se. I know there are darts fans who'll seek out the darts wherever it is shown and I'm not too worried about them because I know they'll find what they're looking for: darts. But I think we should probably be thinking about the less committed darts fan - maybe the first time viewer - and what we can do to bring them in to the sport and make it as accessible as possible.

If you've any thoughts on what you'd like to see - whether you're a darts fan, an occasional armchair fan* or a complete newcomer - do let me know how you'd like us to handle things. What kind of thing do you want to see? Is there a question you'd like to ask a player that never gets asked? Is there anything about the game you'd like to know more about? Is there something we can do that will encourage more people to actually play the game? Let me know your thoughts.

Oh... and if you're a facebook kind of person, there's a page for Bravo's darts coverage here and, of course, they're on twitter as @BRAVO_Darts.

By the way. That double one at about 22 seconds in. I threw that. On purpose and everything. It only took me 9 darts. Oh yeah.
If there's one thing I'm hoping to get from the trip, it's some tips that'll improve my own game. To that end, I'm making sure there's plenty of room for improvement.

*By which I don't mean that you're a fan of armchairs.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010


Big thanks to everyone who came down to the DVD recording last night. I'm happy with both shows so it'll be interesting to see what they do in the edit suite.

The turnaround time on things like this is always a bit mysterious. But I won't be shy of letting you know when the DVD is released.

Friday, July 9, 2010


My darting ability seems to be in decline. This was my tenth 180...... and I've now hit 13 - with 6 of them falling within a two week period - but somehow in the last week or so I've become dreadful all over again.

From having been able to bang in treble 20s with some kind of regularity I was suddenly unable to hit even a single 20 regularly enough to convince me that I was in any kind of control of the dart. I don't know whether I was over-thinking things or not thinking enough or whether my purple patch had all been ridiculously good fortune.

I've started to get a bit better again. Playing a fair amount of round the clock, sometimes on doubles, sometimes on trebles, sometimes going D1, bull, D2, bull, D3, bull etc. I start off ropey and get noticeably better. Not good. Not even close to how I was playing a short while ago. But better.

I wonder if my coach will be able to help me out with things:

I met Phil 'The Power' Taylor yesterday as we were both involved in filming a trailer for Bravo's coverage of the European Darts Championship. (I'm going to be part of the presenting team for Bravo, he's going to be, um, playing darts. He's a bit good at that.)

Incidentally, while many people yesterday seemed convinced that there must be some secret reason for the nickname 'The Badger' it really is just because, like the badger, I'm not very good at darts. This is a definite fact about badgers.

After filming the trail I did a series of press interviews about it all and then went to the Horse & Groom for a darts night hosted by the gravel voiced, Russ Bray. (Who'd have thought he'd want a cigarette break part way through?) True to recent form I was appalling. There were far too many people to play proper darts so it was a team game with six players in a team, all throwing twice and adding up all the scores to see who had the highest total.

I redeemed myself a bit by winning the inter-Bravo round-the-clock games, but then I don't think anyone else I was playing against had played darts for years and I was certainly the only one to actually, y'know, own some darts.

Phil Taylor came along to the Horse & Groom too. Which surprised me because he was still pretty jet-lagged from his trip back from the World Series of Darts in Las Vegas but he gave his time freely and played four or five people at 301. He was unbeaten. Strangely enough.

But I have to change my head back to stand-up mode today. I have my last preview gig in Andover tonight... and then I'm recording the DVD on Monday. I'm doing two shows on Monday - one at 6pm and one at 8.45 and I think there are still tickets left for the earlier of the two if you fancy it.