Bingo has long used popular culture and media to apply funny and often poignant calls to various numbers. These usually come from past movies and songs but can be updated in modern bingo to apply to more relevant topics.
Number 17 – Dancing Queen
In reference to the lyrics “young and sweet, only 17” from the popular ABBA song “Dancing Queen.”
Number 21 – Royal Salute
Military funerals and ceremonies are famously represented by a 21-gun salute, in which seven soldiers fire three times into the air.
Number 39 – The Steps
From the famous Alfred Hitchcock movie ‘The 39 Steps’.
Number 53: Here Comes Herbie
In reference to the racing number of Herbie the VW Beetle from the 1963 Walt Disney movie “Herbie, the Love Bug”. Herbie had the number 53 proudly displayed on the front of his bonnet.
Number 76: Trombones
The word trombones is used in reference to a popular song called “Seventy Six Trombones” that featured in the 1957 musical “The Music Man” by Meredith Wilson.
Comparing the shapes of numbers to real-life objects is another old technique used by Bingo callers over the centuries. Some are quite obvious while others take a bit of a stretch of the imagination.
Number 11 – Legs Eleven
This is simply because of how the two number ones in 11 look like two legs.
Number 22 – Two Little Ducks
The number twos in 22 supposedly resemble two ducks in profile. Number two is also sometimes called ‘one little duck’, although it’s not as common.
Number 77 – Double Hockey Sticks
The two numbers sevens look like two hockey sticks upside down.
Number 88 – Two Fat Ladies
The round shape of the number eight resembles the head and body of a fat person. Why it is specifically aimed at ladies is unclear.
In old England, cockney rhyming slang was a popular vernacular used by East Londoners to cryptically and comically speak amongst themselves. The rhymes were often co-opted by Bingo callers to reference numbers.
Number 8 – Garden Gate
One of the simplest and most popular Bingo calls that use rhyming.
Number 29 – Rise and Shine
For no other reason than that the number nine rhymes with shine.
Number 30 – Burlington Bertie
In the 1915 music hall parody song Burlington Bertie from Bow, the lyric goes “I’m Burlington Bertie I rise at ten-thirty”
Number 38 – Christmas Cake
Chirstmas Cake is popular cockney rhyming slang for the number 38, despite the fact that cake and eight don’t actually rhyme.
Number 62 – Tickety Boo
Another meaningless but admittedly catchy bit of rhyming.
Using numbers to reference historical events is another popular method used by Bingo callers. The technique appeals to a player’s sense of nostalgia, although these days many younger players wouldn’t understand the references.
Number 1 – Kelly’s Eye
An old military reference to Australian outlaw Ned Kelly who wore a helmet with a single slit resembling one eye.
Number 9 – Doctors Orders
A reference to an old military laxative medicine called the ‘Number 9’ pill, which was often handed out to patients as a cure for all ills.
Number 56 – Was She Worth It
In reference to the cost of a marriage license in the 1950s which was five shillings and sixpence (5/6). Players commonly call back “every penny!”.
Number 59 – The Brighton Line
The reference relates to the numbers that were originally the first two digits of the telephone dialling code in Brighton, UK. It is also a quote from the play “The Importance of Being Earnest” by famous British author Oscar Wilde.
Number 80 – “Gandhi’s Breakfast”
In reference to Indian independence activist Mahatma Gandhi who often practiced week-long dietary fasts in protest of violence.