Advertiser Disclosure
We want to bring you the best content and the best offers. Just so you know, we may collect compensation from the links on this page and some of our reviewers are compensated for contributing content to this website.
Bingo Sites News

Removing the Mysteries From Bingo Lingo

Whether you attend a real-world bingo hall or you prefer your bingo online, you will have noticed that many of the numbers called have associated references. Some of them are just made so they rhyme with the last number, such as Duck & Dive for 25, or Buckle my Shoe for 32. Others have meanings related to the number itself and while it might not rhyme, the origins of the description can be quite interesting.

Some bingo calls are pretty obvious, such as Valentine’s Day for 14 and Baker’s Dozen for 13, 88 being ‘two fat ladies’ and 22 ‘two little ducks’, but others are less so ‘in your face’. Why exactly is number 1 ‘Kelly’s Eye’ ? Who was ‘Dirty Gertie’ and why is she number 30 (aside from the rhyming factor)? Why on earth is 56 ‘Was She Worth It?’ and do we really want to know?

In addition to these traditional calls, modern players are coming up with new calls based on current trends and aspects of the post-millennium world. For example, for years 45 has been announced as ‘Halfway there’ (as it is halfway to 90, the highest number in 90-ball bingo), but in some modern bingo halls it’s announced as ‘Brimful of Asha’ after the Cornershop/Fat Boy Slim hit in 1997 with the chorus “Brimful of Asha over 45”.

Here we explain the origins of some ‘obscure’ traditional bingo calls, and look at a few modern ones that you might need a little help understanding the origin of.

Explaining a few traditional bingo calls …

Number 1 – Kelly’s Eye

No one seems to be one hundred percent sure why number one is Kelly’s eye. Many think it is a military term, but most are of the opinion it’s in reference to notorious Australian outlaw Ned Kelly. Kelly was famous for fashioning his own makeshift bulletproof armour, with a steel bucket over his head into which he has created a slot so he could see what he was doing. The slot resembled a number one, albeit turned ninety degrees.

Kelly’s armour didn’t do him much good anyhow as he was gunned down by police on 11 November, 1880.

Number 10 – Maggie’s/Blair’s/Cameron’s/Teresa’s/Johnson’s Den

An easy one this, as number ten refers to 10 Downing Street, home of the prime minister. The name of the current incumbent is added to ‘den’ to create the call.

Interestingly, male incumbents are usually referred to by their surname, and female incumbents by their first names. You can also tell the age of a person by asking which version of this bingo call they are most familiar with!

Number 21 – Royal Salute

Another easy one as a royal salute is usually accompanied by the firing of 21 guns. What you might not know though is why there are exactly 21 guns in a royal salute (and it’s not because members of the royal family love playing blackjack!). It’s because it was standard for an armed sea-going vessel to have seven guns, and that each gun would be fired three times to indicate that a salute was being fired.

Number 30 – Dirty Gertie

So, who was Dirty Gertie? Well, nobody knows except that she lived at number 30, and either had poor hygiene or an … amorous nature. As the phrase originated on the children’s television programme ‘The Basil Brush Show’, the former seems the most likely.

Number 39 – Steps

Nothing to do with the briefly-popular late 1990s pop group. 39 is ‘Steps’ because of the ancient novel ‘The 39 Steps’ by Robert Buchan. In the novel ’39 Steps’ is a highly-secret network of dastardly anti-British spies, the cads!

Number 49 – PC

Another ancient call, named after a 1940s movie called ‘The Adventures of PC 49’ and its 1950s sequel ‘A Case for PC 49’. Sadly, the proposed third film ‘PC 49 Goes to the Seaside’ was never made.

Number 56 – Was She Worth It?

Back in the old days couples had to actually buy a marriage licence in order to get wed. The cost of the licence was five shillings and sixpence, or ‘five and six’ for short. In modern money, that’s 27 and a half pence! And yes, this call is a bit sexist!

Number 57 – Heinz Varieties

When the US company Heinz began selling their products, they would boast that they produced 57 varieties of pickle. In truth, they did nothing of the sort, but founder Henry J. Heinz thought that 57 was a lucky number!

Number 65 – Old Age Pension

For decades, 65 was the age at which people received their state pension. Sadly this is no longer the case, but the call has yet to be updated.

Number 68 – Saving Grace

The origins of this call have been lost in the midst of time!

Number 76 – Trombones

From the song ’Seventy-Six Trombones’ written in the 1950s by Meredith Wilson.

Number 77 – Sunset Strip

From a TV Show called ’77 Sunset Strip’ that ran from 1958 until 1964, and was popular on UK TV as people then had nothing better to do in the evenings.

… and now a few modern bingo calls

8 – ‘Tinder Date’

14 – ‘Insta Hipster Scene’

24 – ‘Lads on Tour’

32 – ‘Jimmy Choo’

48 – ‘Not another Brexit debate’ or ‘Tag a Mate’

56 – ‘Scrolling through the ex’s pics’

88 – ‘Two body positive ladies’

69 – ‘Netflix and chill’ (and if you want to know why 69 is ‘Netflix and chill’ then GIYF (Google is your friend) but be warned, what you will learn is definitely NSFW!

When you play online bingo take a second to listen to the numbers being called and see if you can spot the games where certain sites have inserted their own variations on the numbers theme. For instance, at Gala Bingo in the Emmerdale Bingo room there are calls based on the show, such as Yorkshire Moor 64, 4 Wheel Drive 45 and Village Stream 15!

As most bingo calls originated in the 1950s, it’s about time they received something of a makeover. Perhaps you could come up with your own list of contemporary bingo calls – just make sure you are happy with them all being called out in public!

Reader comments