Interview: Bobby George talks 'Let's Play Darts for Comic Relief'

Sports Mole talks to two-time Lakeside runner-up Bobby George about Let's Play Darts for Comic Relief.

Ever since it has become a frequent presence on our television screens, darts has continued to attract a growing following, with major events often being sold out well in advance as supporters crave the chance of witnessing the sport's top players in action while enjoying a night out with their mates.

However, in preparation for next year's Comic Relief, the BBC have decided to act on the sport's increasing popularity by commissioning a darts show with a bit of a difference - a competition which will see some of darts' biggest names paired with a leading figure from the entertainment world.

One player who will be taking to the Lakeside stage is Bobby George, who established himself as one of the most familiar names associated with the sport with two appearances in the final of the World Championship as well as possessing one of the game's most elaborate entrances.

George, who has been a lead pundit during the BBC's darts coverage since 1998, regularly appears in exhibition and charity events across the country, but the 68-year-old has admitted that nothing compares to walking out in front of a television audience.

"The last time that I played in front of a television audience was probably a couple of years ago, but it's been around 10 years since I played competitively on television," George told Sports Mole.

"Walking out in front of people always give you a buzz, no matter what the size of the crowd. It's a lot better than playing in front of no-one in your front room!"

George will line up alongside a number of the BDO's top players, including former world champions Martin Adams, Andy Fordham and Ted Hankey, while the celebrity lineup will see comedians Lee Mack, Tim Vine, Sean Lock and Bob Mortimer all take to the oche with their own 'darts persona'.

Television presenter Richard Osman, who is best known for his role on BBC gameshow Pointless, is another celebrity who has gotten himself involved with the show, but he told Sports Mole that while his 'walk-on' music had been decided, he was keeping all details regarding his darts persona "a closely-guarded secret".

Bobby George, darts player, is pictured during the Pound 4 Pound Charity fundraiser for Fight4change on May 7, 2014© Getty Images

George has revealed that the participants have yet to find out who they will be paired with, but the Essex thrower believes that the format of the show will prove to be popular with viewers as the non-professionals try to hold their nerve on the Lakeside stage.

"We haven't been told anything about who we will be paired with yet," he said. "As long as they can throw a good dart, I'm happy! I think it will all be about who is best on the day. It's a lot different up on the stage than it is in a pub with your mates!

"I think the plan is to all be there at the time and do a draw. It will make it exciting! The whole show promises to be exciting because it's just pairs, so it will offer something different for the viewers."

Another of the professional players who has been chosen to take part on the show is George's son, Richie, who has emerged as one of the leading prospects in the BDO after he reached the semi-finals of the World Championships in 2013.

The 24-year-old has endured a testing 2014, which has seen him become a father for the first time, but George Sr believes that his son is beginning to perform to his potential in the final couple of months before the qualification deadlines for the World Masters and the World Championship.

"It was tough for him at the start of the season because he and his partner had a baby and they moved house, so with all of the travelling involved on the BDO Tour, it made it difficult," he said.

"He is starting to play better now though, and he's up there in the running to qualify for Lakeside, but he has more work to do before the deadline."

Tickets for the Let's Play Darts for Comic Relief event, which is being filmed on September 3 and September 4, are on sale now at www.lakesidesurrey.co.uk with all net proceeds from tickets sales will go to Comic Relief (after VAT and admin fee) and will be spent helping poor and disadvantaged people in the UK and Africa. Over 18s only.

Ray Stubbs
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