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The History behind Bingo Calls

by Paul Marion on November 3, 2017

Have you ever shouted TWO FAT LADIES? If so, you’ll experience two things, either a slap across the face, or a crowd of people frantically looking at their bingo cards with dabbers in their hands.

Bingo Calls have been used for centuries, and have often being made up of rhymes, idiomatic phrases, popular culture references and popular styles of speech, based on a shared knowledge and understanding.

History of Bingo Calls

They have been traced back to the 1800s when the game became a hugely popular past time with the British navy. In fact, many of the bingo calls we know and love today originated during bingos time with the armed forces.

They often include regimental nicknames, references to Naval personnel going on leave, some of which would dare be spoke again. For example number 76 has the call “Was she worth it?” which is linked to the cost of a marriage license or an evening call followed by bed and breakfast.

Some calls have stuck as the years go on. For example, Burlington Bertie (Number 30) dates back to the Edwardian era.

The bingo experts at have provided some of the strangest bingo calls and their meanings that have been used over the previous years.

Number Nickname Explanation
1 Kelly’s Eye This dates back to military slang, and is a reference to Ned Kelly
3 Cup of tea / You and me Romantic rhymes
6 Tom Mix After Tom Mix, a star of silent Western films
9 Doctor’s Orders “Number 9” was the name of a laxative given out by doctors in WWII
23 The lord is my Shepard These are the first words of Psalm 23 of the Old Testament
26 Half a crown Refers to pre-decimalised currency in the UK
30 Burlington Bertie Refers to the music hall song of the same name from 1900 and a more famous parody written in 1915
76 Was she worth it? This refers to the price of a marriage licence in Britain. Players respond with “Every penny!”
77 Sunset Strip From the 1960s TV series, “77 Sunset Strip”. The theme tune is usually sung by players.


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