Darts super spotter Keith Deller left Stephen Fry gobsmacked with his skill
Ever wondered how the TV camera manages to zoom into the correct part of the darts board during a big match?
Well, it isn’t guesswork or luck. It relies on a ‘spotter’, who has a direct line to the producer so he can issue instructions on where the camera should be aimed.
The most respected spotter in the sport is none other than Keith Deller, whose 138 finish to beat Eric Bristow in the final of the 1983 World Championship is one of the most iconic moments in the sport’s history. He has been doing the job for Sky Sports for almost 30 years, previously in tandem with the late, great Bristow and more recently with Colin Lloyd.
“When you see the player needing, say, 106, ‘I’ll go treble 20, single 14, double 16’ so I’ll tell the remote cameras, the director, where I think they’re going to go,” explains Deller, now 62, to Daily Star Sport.
“I think I’ve been the longest spotters there’s ever been. I’m there at all the big tournaments, I feel the atmosphere, it’s great. It’s a tough job to do. No disrespect to the commentators but they can say they’ll go one way and, if they don’t, it doesn’t really matter to them because they’re not the one telling the camera where to go. You really have to be alert all the time when you’ve got the likes of Jonny Clayton, who decides to go his own ways. I love doing it and Sky are a brilliant team. It keeps me sharp.”
As part of his role, Deller has to get inside the mind of each player rather than merely predicting the most obvious route to a finish. Some take the so-called conventional option while others will throw in a curve ball, making knowledge and quick-thinking under pressure vital.
“It’s all the different combinations,” adds Deller. “The most important thing is not to panic. When you’ve got the likes of Michael Smith, who throws very quick, you’ve really got to be on your mettle.
“For instance, if someone wants 25, it’s nine, double eight for quite a few of them. But you’ve got to think ‘what happens if they hit a 12?’ You’ve got to keep an eye out in case they go either side because, when they’re quick, you haven’t got the time to do it.”
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Celebrity darts fan Stephen Fry, who memorably joined the late Sid Waddell in the commentary box, got a first-hand look at Deller in spotting action during the Premier League final one year and was left gobsmacked by the speed in which Deller issued his instructions.
“I’ll always remember when Phil Taylor hit two nine-darters in the final of the Premier League [in 2010],” recalls Deller. “Stephen Fry, a well-respected man, came along and I introduced myself. He said ‘I know you, Mr Deller, the 138 man’. He said he’d been brought up watching the likes of Bristow, John Lowe, Bobby George’.
“He said ‘I’ve heard how unbelievable you are spotting so I’m going to come in and sit with you’. I called a few shots and he said ‘Jesus, you must have been a genius at maths’. I went ‘no, the first question in my GCSE maths was take away from five pounds and I took away from 501 and got it wrong! It was the easiest question!”
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