The History and Future of Bingo Calls

The History and Future of Bingo Calls

Bingo Lingo. Love it or loathe it, the number calls are all part of the fun. If you’re a fan of heading to your local hall, you’ll know that the bingo lingo adds to the social element of the game, creating a rapport between the caller and the participants. If you much prefer the accessibility and convenience of online bingo games, you’ll not be as familiar with the calls. But where did some of the original calls come from? Why did they change and what to? And what is the future of Bingo Lingo? Read on to find out all you need to know.

Archaic Bingo Lingo

Those that play bingo games will know the importance of bingo calls. They originated in London during the mid-20th century and soon made their way to Bingo halls across the UK. Yet, for Millennials and Gen-Z, these traditional calls mean nothing, which is why they’ve needed to receive a makeover. Let’s see a few examples.

  • Number 1: Kelly’s Eye

Taken from military slang but refers to the Australian outlaw. He wore a suit of bulletproof armour during his final shootout with police and the eye slot of his helmet resembled the number one.

  • Number 9: Doctor’s Orders

Referring to a laxative pill handed out by army doctors to soldiers during World War II.

  • 59: The Brighton Line

The specific origins are unknown, but the number refers to the old London to Brighton bus service. 59 either corresponds to the number of the bus, or the pre-decimal price of a ticket, costing 5/9.

  • 76: Was she worth it?

Refers to the pre-decimal price of a marriage licence in the UK: 7/6. When the number is drawn, players respond to the caller: “Every penny”.

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Cultural Bingo Lingo still relevant

Amidst the old-fashioned terminology, the Cockney rhyming slang and the calls that describe how the numbers look when written, there are some cultural references. Whether it’s music, film or politics, many of the calls are still relevant or understood today, while others have been updated. Here are some of our favourites.

  • Number 10: Boris’ Den

The call has changed over time but refers to whoever the British Prime Minister is. Currently, Boris Johnson resides at number 10 Downing Street. We’ve recently seen ‘Theresa’s Den’ and ‘Dave’s Den’ too.

  • 14: Valentine’s Day

Refers to Valentine’s Day, which is February 14th. It’s used as a gentle reminder to the male players in the audience!

  • 17: Dancing Queen

Based on the classic party song by ABBA. The opening lines of the chorus are: “You are the Dancing Queen, young and sweet, only 17.” Players often get on their feet and sing and dance along.

  • 57: Heinz Varieties

Again, there’s some uncertainty around its specific origins, but this call refers to Heinz’s famous slogan. Nobody seems to know what ’57’ actually stands for as Heinz sell over 57 varieties of product, but it seems to have stuck and is known worldwide.

Updating Bingo Lingo

There have been several attempts made to update Bingo calls, but of course, as the years fly by, they become irrelevant or lost in time. There’s a fine line between ‘fresh and relevant’ and calls that ‘everyone can enjoy’. Here are a few examples that have changed and given a 21st-century twist.

  • Number 6: Little Mix (was Tom Mix)
  • Number 8: Tinder Date (was Garden Gate)
  • 11: Eyebrows on fleek (was Legs 11)
  • 48: Tag a mate (was Four Dozen)

The future of Bingo Lingo

While many of the traditional calls are adaptations of cockney rhyming slang or popular culture references, Generation Z relies heavily on the internet for their slang terms. Whether it’s social media, memes or gifs, we can definitely see “Number 6: It’s Lit” or “15: Internet Meme” featuring somewhere in the future. What do you think future calls will be?

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