Bingo calls have been a key ingredient of the 90-ball version of the game for several decades, leading to the nicknames given to many of the numbers becoming ingrained in the fabric of society. In the UK, a large amount of bingo calls are now commonly used even amongst people who have never played the game.
There are calls for all the numbers from 1 to 90, each of which either relates to the shape of the number (such as ‘Legs’ for ‘11’), a rhyme (such as ‘Knock at the door’ for ‘4’) or some form of cultural reference. For example, ‘17’ is often referred to as ‘Dancing Queen’ because the number is mentioned in the famous ABBA song.
Single-digit numbers are often introduced as ‘on their own’, while numbers ending in a zero may be described as blind - for example, you may hear a caller refer to ‘20’ as ‘blind 20’. These nicknames help to elevate the game to new levels of fun for many players and the job of bingo calling can be considered a type of performance. Even online, many sites use calls to announce the numbers, either traditional or their own. Gala Bingo even offers an online bingo game with a live caller for those who want to fully recreate the club experience.
While many of the classics have stayed the same, others have changed over the years to reflect new references, such as ‘J-Lo’s bum’ for 71, while callers in some clubs will create their own to keep the game fresh. The actual numbers are called out straight after the nickname, so there are no problems if you don’t know all the terms, but learning the most popular bingo calls can be a real advantage.
You can find a list of the traditional calls below, although you should be aware that many numbers have several nicknames and your local club or favourite online bingo site may come up with their own unique terms. Before any game, the caller will say ‘eyes down’ to call players to attention.
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