Leighton Buzzard darts fan’s petition to save glamorous ‘walk-on girls’ hits the bullseye with 27,000 signatures already

David Shaw's petition
David Shaw's petition

A determined Leighton Buzzard sports fan has launched a petition with a whopping 27K signatures, as he aims to persuade Professional Darts Corporation (PDC) bosses to reinstate ‘walk on girls’ at televised events.

On January 26, it was announced that the glamorous players’ escorts would be axed from TV broadcasts, leaving many darts fans feeling that the bosses had missed the board completely.

David with darts player Peter Wright

David with darts player Peter Wright

The PDC made its decision in order to make the game more compatible for family viewing, but upon hearing the news, Leighton Buzzard fan, David Shaw, 30, launched into action and set up a petition which has received support from local fans and celebrities alike - and after the petition was mentioned on the Radio 2 Jeremy Vine show this afternoon (Monday) the signature count rocketed from nearly 26k to 27k.

Speaking to the LBO, David, of St Mary’s Way, claimed: “I was shocked to be honest. I started it three days ago and I didn’t really expect it to have the impact that is has.

“Professional darts player Raymond Van Barneveld has Tweeted my petition link and walk-on girls Daniella Allfree and Charlotte Wood have invited me to a darts competition.

“I couldn’t believe it when I heard people complaining that having ‘walk on’ girls was sexist. It quite wound me up really, saying they were scantily clad.

David proudly showing off a signed dart board

David proudly showing off a signed dart board

“They are not wearing a swimsuit or bikini - they are wearing a dress and heels. People go out on a night out like that.

“It’s too politically correct; how can anyone be offended by a woman in a dress? Some women go to work in a dress and heels. What’s the difference?

“The ‘walk-on girls’ have lost sixty per cent of their income due to losing this job. Daniella has got a child to feed and some of the girls who have just started their jobs in smaller competitions will now find it difficult to secure other modelling jobs.

“The girls say that they are part of the darts family. In work you are lucky to say that you are part of a ‘team’, but it is rare to say that you are part of a ‘family’. It’s all about meeting the fans and the players.

David with darts player Raymond Van Barneveld, who has tweeted his support for the petition

David with darts player Raymond Van Barneveld, who has tweeted his support for the petition

“Now the family has been broken up.”

The ‘walk-on girls’ have been part of the games for over two decades, but just as David has received strong support for the petition, many members of the public have also welcomed the axe.

Comments arising in response to the matter include that the move was “About time!”, representing views that the job of the girls merely “paraded and objectified” women and that a family broadcast should not have had women in a “second class” role during a “male sport”.

Others have argued that the job was “out of touch” at a time when there is a call for more young women to be inspired to follow a career path studying STEM subjects, and as debates rage about gender-neutral toys, equal pay, and the exploitation of women in the film industry.

However, David feels the move is hypocritical.

He claimed: “The girls are there because they are want to be and because they are part of darts family.

“I was watching TV before the watershed when I saw a trailer for 50 shades of Grey, while other sports allow cheerleaders or ‘ring girls’ who wear far less clothing! Why are they not axed?

“I just don’t understand how television channels can still allow it. And some of the women wear far less clothing on shows like The X Factor and Strictly Come Dancing.

“There was also a case where one of the players had been struggling with Dartitis (a nervous twitching or tension that destroys concentration and spoils performance) and one of the walk-on girls said something which helped him.

“I used to be part of the Leighton Buzzard Drama Group. Everyone has their own way of preparing. Some people want to be on their own, but personally, I find that having a laugh helps.

“If the darts players are nervous they have nobody as they are about to go on stage - they’re not going to talk to the security guards!

“This gives them the option to have someone there.”

David has been a fan of darts contests for ten years and enjoys watching matches in Milton Keynes.

He and his father, Ian, also enjoy playing the sport in The Buckingham Arms, Linslade.

Ian said: “I think David’s petition is quite good actually. I think what they (the PDC) are doing is wrong. There’s nothing wrong with ‘the walk on girls’, they’ve been doing it for years.

“This move takes people out of a job.”

An ITV spokesman stated to the media: “The decision was taken in consultation with ITV and we fully endorse this move.”

The PDC told the media: “We regularly review all aspects of our events and this move has been made following feedback from our host broadcasters.”

What do you think about David’s petition? Email news@lbobserver.co.uk

To sign David’s petition, click here: https://www.change.org/p/barry-hearn-i-want-to-keep-tradition-in-darts-and-keep-women-in-a-job