Bingo in popular culture

posted by Chris Valentine

You may not realise it, but Bingo is everywhere. Whether it’s the latest social media advert for Paddy Bingo or the concept of a game you could play amongst friends while binge-watching the latest Netflix series. It could even be a reference in a movie or song, but the popular game is fully embedded in our society. Let’s take a look at some of the ways that Bingo has influenced our culture.

The lingo of bingo

If you’ve ever played Bingo at a designated hall, you’ll know that a big part of the social aspect is the camaraderie between the Bingo caller and the audience. This is down to the calls for each number, which have been significant in culture, both historical and modern. Calls referring to politics (for example, number 10: Boris’ den), music (17: Dancing Queen) or even Cockney rhyming slang (38: Christmas cake) are all commonplace in the Bingo hall.

But over the last few years, the calls have been significantly modernised. For example, number 6 has changed from ‘Tom Mix’ to ‘Little Mix’ and number 8 went from ‘Garden Gate’ to ‘Tinder Date’, to become more relevant to today’s society. This has helped Bingo halls target a fresh and younger audience.

Bingo in TV programmes

While the casino has often inspired TV game shows, with many still shown today (The Wall and Tipping Point), there aren’t any Bingo TV shows on our screens at present. That isn’t to say that they wouldn’t be popular, as during the 1980s and ‘90s, several programmes were televised as a result of Bingo’s popularity.

Bob’s Full House aired for six years, while One to Win and The Biggest Game in Town were both reincarnations. The original show hosted by Bob Monkhouse was the most popular, while in the early noughties, Lucky Numbers hosted by Shane Richie only ran for a handful of episodes.

All of the shows were Bingo-based with contestants looking to complete their cards by answering general knowledge questions correctly. Players would need to follow specific patterns to win, for example completing all four corners or a straight line. Of course, the aim was to win a full house.

Create your own

If you’re into formulaic TV shows, it’s easy to recreate your own Bingo cards. A quick Google search will show up plenty of results – from Great British Bake Off and The Apprentice to The X Factor and I’m a Celebrity. Some programmes are best set to Bingo, and if you can’t get enough of the latest reality series, that too can transform into a card to play with friends while you watch.

Or, go on your favourite Bingo site and find a game already based on your favourite TV show. Some examples include Who Wants To Be A Millionaire and Britain’s Got Talent. The games will contain relevant graphics and music associated with the TV shows themselves and are a great way for sites to entice new players. Online Bingo has helped revolutionise the classic game, which has shaken off its traditional stereotype.

Innuendo Bingo

One for Radio 1 fans now, and Scott Mills’ popular game may not have a direct link to the famous Bingo cards that we love, but that didn’t make it any less popular. The game involved two players – Chris Stark and a celebrity – who would be subjected to clips from relevant radio and TV programmes. These could be misinterpreted as innuendos and the contestants, who would have water in their mouths, would then try not to laugh. Laughing would cause them to spit the water out and drench themselves.

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