In December 2009, British Bingo finally appeared on the radar of the
politically correct. Sudbury bingo caller John Sayers, a
seventy-five-year-old man who used to organise games for charity was
told by council officials to stop pointing out possible female obesity
and to discourage wolf-whistles when certain numbers were pulled from
In their collective wisdom, the members of Sudbury Town Council felt that the practice of attaching nicknames to numbers was passé and suggested that perhaps the best way to not offend sensitive Bingo players was to just say the numbers instead. Eighty-eight didn’t need to be accompanied by the words “two fat ladies”, just as the number 11 had nothing to do with a shapely pair of legs. Mr. Sayers took their advice, hardly surprising as he was a member of the town council.
Online Bingo is not just a game. It is a devastatingly simple form of gambling that requires concentration mixed in with luck. There is no system to playing bingo, you can’t study the form and predict what numbers are going to come out. The simplicity is what makes it so attractive; all you need are randomly generated numbers and enough players to want to shout “Bingo” when the right winning combination is achieved.
Bingo doesn’t try to be trendy; it doesn’t have to slavishly follow fashion. Bingo Promotions are an excellent way to get introduced to the game; commercials featuring smartly attired foxes and excitable women help add to the allure of this very British way of passing the time.
British Bingo is all about the numbers, not just the people who play in halls all over the country and increasingly online, but the use of traditional nicknames to refer to numerals when they are called. It heightens the anticipation when you know that all you need for a full house is a duck and a crutch (27) or that any moment could see Gandhi’s Breakfast (80 – Ate Nothing) being the reason for celebration.
Who would want to play a game that didn’t bang on the drum (71), knock on the door (24) or Jump and Jive (35)? Where is the fun in just hearing someone announce a stream of boring figures one after the other? What would happen if nobody remembered Danny La Rue (52/72)? It would be the end of civilisation as we know it.
It is a shame that Bingo isn’t originally British. It was invented in Italy in the 1600s, exported to the rest of Europe and then became hugely popular in the United States in 1920s.
In the 1960s it was Eric Morley who saw the potential of Bingo. Morley, who would later make beauty contests a must-see television event, realised that the British public were becoming more prone to sitting on their couch in the evenings and not engaging in the community. At the same time, cinemas across the country were reporting a drop in attendance due again to the attractions of the Google box. For a businessman like our Eric, this was an opportunity not to miss and with the government passing a legalised Gaming Act, cinemas were quickly converted into Bingo Halls.
For millions of people in Britain, Bingo was a chance to get out of the house, hang out with friends, have a drink and perhaps win some money. The only drawback was that hearing a smartly dressed man intone a series of numbers wasn’t very exciting. So with true British ingenuity, the bingo callers added nicknames to make the game more fun and in 2011 Bingo is still a popular way to spend an evening.
Two years ago, Sudbury Town Council tried to take that fun away. To use the parlance of the caller, Number 13; Unlucky For Some.