Although modern bingo can be traced back to Italy in the 16th century when a national lottery called Lo Gioco del Lotto D’Italia was created, some elements of the game have only been created in the past 60 years.
UK bingo calls, for example, are not found anywhere else in the world and many of them reflect a distinctively British sense of humour. Some numbers even have a region-specific twist, and nearly all of them rhyme with the number that they’re assigned to. The practice became popular in the forties and fifties as visits to bingo halls became more popular and to add more entertainment to the event and give people chance to mark their cards. Nowadays the calls come out so fast there is no longer time for the rhyme and this very British quirk of the bingo halls is dying out.
Some players often wonder what inspired our nation’s bingo calls, and below, we’ve listed a few of the best-known ones along with an explanation of where they got their names from.
17 – Dancing Queen
Back in 1976, the Swedish pop group, ABBA, released one of its most successful songs. “Dancing Queen” still draws everyone to the dance floor over 40 years later, and it includes the famous line, “You are the Dancing Queen. Young and sweet – only 17”.
62 – Tickety Boo
You can’t get much more British a saying than “tickety boo” which is a way of saying that everything’s great.
22 – Two Little Ducks
Two Little Ducks is one of the oldest bingo calls and it’s used to accompany the number 22 because if you write down “22”, it looks like a couple of ducks.
26 – Pick and Mix
While the best-known call for the number 26 is Pick and Mix, it’s sometimes referred to as “Bed and Breakfast” due to the traditional cost of a night in a B&B being 2 shillings and sixpence.
9 – Doctor’s Orders
Many people believe that Doctor’s Orders has military origins when troops had until 9 PM to make medical appointments.
56 – Was She Worth It?
Back in the 50s, couples getting married had to pay 5 shillings and sixpence. Therefore, the call for number 56 is a cheeky way of asking a husband if he’s happy with the wife that he paid to wed.