Explanations behind some famous bingo calls

Bingo calling has long been considered an art form, and the best callers are often hired in the most upmarket establishments. Having a warm and friendly tone is a must, but being able to project each announcement to the back of the room is also essential! Of course another important skill is being able to remember all the different phrases and calls for each of the numbers. Even online bingo makes sure to include the famous bingo calls in its virtual bingo halls, as bingo just wouldn’t be the same without it!

Some ‘calls’ are self-explanatory, with ‘half a dozen’ for number six or ‘top of the shop’ for ninety, the highest number. Others are not well known and may only apply in certain areas. Many have been used for such a long time that even regulars forget where they originated! Some calls (such as ‘legs eleven’ or ‘two little ducks, twenty two’) describe the shape of the numbers, presumably helpful to the players anxiously scanning their ticket cards for the correct digits. Many more are phrases or names that simply rhyme with the number when the caller says it out loud. Twenty four - ‘knock at the door’ - is a good example.

There are some clever anecdotes and facts surrounding bingo calls and a brief search online is a great way to start. The call for number eighty is ‘Ghandi’s breakfast’ which can either be explained through the numbers being shaped like an overhead view of a cross legged man sitting at a plate (80), or because he ‘ate nothing’, a play on words! Most longstanding bingo calls originated in Britain, and many refer to old currency. Seventy six ‘was she worth it?’ was first used as a marriage licence cost 7/6d in old money. Often players will shout back ‘every penny’.

Because bingo is such a fun and relaxing game, it encourages players to connect socially, both with other players in person or via chat rooms, and also with the callers themselves. Many ‘calls’ get loud responses from a live audience, with number fifty three, ‘here comes Herbie’ (after the TV racing car) often eliciting a chorus of ‘beep beep!’ for example.

For the new generation, many of the calls are simply unrecognisable and their limited knowledge of old currency, old TV and film shows and stars from bygone times will make the bingo caller hard to understand and sometimes confusing. The rise of online bingo heralds a new era of bingo, with smooth, fast paced gameplay and bonus rounds easy to play without attending a large bingo hall, but still keeps to the bingo tradition for anyone who wants to hear those number calls. If you want to try it for yourself, go to bingo.paddypower.com

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