Hilarious Bingo Calls: We Reveal What They All Mean!
When God created the earth in seven days and rested on the seventh day, he for sure used bingo lingo when he said “Lucky Seven, it’s my day off in heaven!”
Well, okay maybe he never said that. But one of the things that makes bingo so quintessentially British are the bingo calls. When announcing some of the numbers, the caller will use a nickname for the bingo ball that will provoke merriment from the participants. It’s just part and parcel of the fun and games!
But where in the heck do some of these bingo calls come from? What do they mean? For example, why does Garden Gate stand for the number 8? And what on earth has Tweak of the Thumb got to do with 51?! These are questions that have no doubt plagued many a bingo goer over the years!
Truth is, the nicknames have very little to do with the numbers themselves. But – especially if you fancy a crack at bingo calling yourself – it always helps to know your bingo terminology. In this fun little article, we’ll take a closer look at bingo numbers. Some are hilarious, some are obvious and some are just plain daft!
Ready for a bit of British bingo eccentricity? Let’s go then with our bingo calls list!
List of Bingo Number Nicknames (Bingo Calling Numbers)
One Little Duck
Cup of Tea
Knock at the Door
Unlucky For Some
Young and Keen
Coming of Age
Coming of Age
Two Little Ducks
Thee and Me
Duck and Dive
Pick and Mix
Gateway to Heaven
Rise and Shine
Get Up and Run
Buckle My Shoe
Ask For More
Jump and Jive
More Than 11
Time For Fun
Winnie The Pooh
Down On Your Knees
Up To Tricks
Four and Seven
Half a Century
Tweak of the Thumb
Danny La Rue
Stuck In The Tree
Clean The Floor
Was She Worth It
Make Them Wait
Turn The Screw
Tickle Me 63
Old Age Pension
Made In Heaven
Either Way Up
Three Score and 10
Bang on the Drum
Strive and Strive
One More Time
Eight and Blank
Stop and Run
Straight on Through
Time For Tea
Between The Sticks
Torquay in Devon
Two Fat Ladies
Top of the Shop
Lots of bingo calls are actually rhymes. For example, Garden Gate = the number 8.
The funny thing is that these rhyming bingo calls aren’t set in stone. If you go to a bingo hall, the caller might use something else instead of Garden Gate because he or she can’t remember it!
But that’s all part of what makes bingo so much fun.
Here’s mine: You’re late, the number 8.
No good? Fine.
Two Fat Ladies = 88.
Not being offensive, but it’s obvious, isn’t it?
Whoever came up with that one definitely deserves a Nobel Prize.
Legs eleven, meanwhile, is the number 11.
No doubt the most interesting bingo calls are those with real historical references behind them. For example, the number 39 is “Steps”. Why? Because of the 1935 Alfred Hitchcock film, The 39 Steps, which was set in Britain.
Winnie The Pooh (number 42), meanwhile, is based on the beloved children’s character.
Keep reading to learn more about the many historical references behind bingo numbers.
Traditional nicknames include Dancing Queen (17) and Sweet 16 (16). There aren’t as many of these in bingo as there are rhymes and historical references, but there are still enough to bring a smile to the face of those who are old enough to remember when these calls were first introduced back in the 60s and 70s.
Ah, bingo. You can’t beat it! Let’s now take a look at each bingo call one-by-one:
Bingo Numbers List Explained
1: Kelly’s Eye
There have been rumours that this is a reference to folk hero Ned Kelly, the geezer from Australia. But there have also been claims that it’s slang from the military.
2: One Little Duck
The number 2 looks like a duck all on its lonesome, hence this bingo call.
3: Cup of Tea
A cup of tea is probably the most British thing ever, so it simply has to represent the first number it rhymes with, darling.
4: Knock at the Door
Who’s that knocking at your door? It’s number four!
5: Man Alive
Another rhyming bingo call, Man Alive is slang for when you’re surprised about something. Such as when the number 5 pops up and you’ve got a Full House!
6: Tom Mix
Tom Mix is a classic piece of cockney rhyming slang that was probably added to bingo calls wayyyyy back when.
7: Lucky Seven
7 is a lot of peoples’ favourite number and for good reason – it’s universally known as a lucky number.
8: Garden Gate
Although ‘garden gate’ seems completely random, we have to remember that many British rhymes have solid origins. A theory going around is that the garden gate refers to a meeting point for olde British smugglers back in the early 1900s.
You know, like this:
“I’ll meet ya at the garden gate. Be there or be dead.”
9: Doctor’s Orders
We all know that British folk live in constant fear of the doctor! But when the doctor’s number comes up, your luck might be in.
10: Johnson’s Den
This is a nickname that references the current Prime Minister. Once Boris’s reign is over, it will change once again.
11: Legs 11
Swit-soo, it’s legs 11.
Yeah, this one is obvious. Those 1’s look like a pair of pins.
12: One Dozen
12 is actually a dozen. So it figures.
13: Unlucky For Some
13 is known worldwide to be the unluckiest number EVER.
Beware if yours ever comes up!
14: Valentine’s Day
February 14th is Valentine’s Day OF COURSE.
You forgot, didn’t you? Better order those chocolates, pronto.
15: Young and Keen
Fifteen year-olds are definitely young and keen, especially when there’s bingo prizes to be won!
16: Sweet 16
Sweet 16 is actually a coming of age party mainly celebrated in America but it’s been used as a bingo call for decades.
17: Dancing Queen
This bingo call was inspired by the classic Abba song “Dancing Queen.”
Each time it’s called, it’s very easy to start humming the tune to yourself!
18: Coming of Age
In Britain at least, eighteen is known to be the age when a boy “comes of age” and grows into a man.
19: Goodbye Teens
Continuing the young adulthood theme, Goodbye Teens represents the number 19 and has done since at least the 1960s when “teenager” became a proper concept.
20: One Score
Score has represented the number 20 outside the bingo hall for centuries. We’re not sure why but apparently even Abraham Lincoln used it!
Meanwhile, Del Boy Trotter often uses it when talking money with the punters.
21: Royal Salute
This references the 21-gun salute that you’ll find at military and royal ceremonies.
- Two Little Ducks
Look closely at the number 22 and you’ll see two little ducks. Cute.
23: Thee and Me
This one is so northern it hurts. It’ll be ‘thee and me’ forever, our lad!
24: Two Dozen
In Britain, two twelve’s equal two dozen, of course.
25: Duck and Dive
Another bit of slang used by Del Boy Trotter, ‘duck and dive’ means to stay out of trouble using one’s own wits.
The number two also looks like a duck waddling along so.
26: Pick and Mix
Pick and mix is just a fun, rhyming bingo call that rolls off the tongue nicely.
27: Gateway to Heaven
27 will for sure be your gateway to heaven if you get a full house!
28: Over Weight
This bingo call typically refers to a fat lady (represented by the number 8) with a duck (represented by the number 2). The lady in question is overweight.
Oh, and it also rhymes with 28.
29: Rise and Shine
Rise and shine, it’s 29!
30: Dirty Gertie
Dirty Gertie reminds us that bingo culture is pretty gosh darn old! If you’ve never heard this one before, your grandparents will for sure have.
It’s actually a reference to a statue of a naked lady that made headlines when it was first unveiled in Britain way back in 1927. Oh-la-la.
31: Get Up and Run
This doesn’t doesn’t completely rhyme but it’s still an old bingo call that’s thought to go all the way back to the second world war.
32: Buckle My Shoe
This one is taken from an olde English nursery rhyme that was first published in 1805. It was titled One, Two, Buckle My Shoe and is still taught to preschoolers today.
33: Dirty Knee
Usually, a bingo caller will say “all the threes, 33!”
Or, they’ll say “all the threes, dirty knee!”
34: Ask For More
It’s not totally clear where this one comes from, but if we had to guess we’d go with the 1960’s Oliver! musical. In the family favourite adaptation of the classic Charles Dickens tale, Oliver Twist is scolded by the mean Mr Bumble for wanting more porridge.
35: Jump and Jive
Jump and Jive is possibly a reference to dance halls from a bygone era, when folk would go to bingo before hitting the clubs to ‘jump and jive.’
Ask your parents.
36: Three Dozen
If one dozen is twelve and two dozen is 24, three dozen is 36.
Yes, we had to use a calculator.
37: More Than 11
The bingo caller is certainly correct on this one – 37 IS more than 11.
This is a classic example of good old British humour in action at bingo halls.
38: Christmas Cake
This is another example of cockney rhyming slang that made its way into bingo halls.
The 39 Steps was an Alfred Hitchcock movie set in Britain. Bit of cinema trivia for you there!
40: Naughty 40
The idea is that the fun doesn’t stop when you reach 40 years of age. In fact, you just get naughtier!
Well, you do if you’re having a night out at the bingo anyway.
41: Time For Fun
And when you get to 41, well, it’s time for more fun.
42: Winnie The Pooh
Winnie The Pooh is a much-loved children’s character created by A.A Milne.
When he created Pooh, do you reckon Mr Milne had any idea his character would become a bingo call? We reckon that was his plan all along!
43: Down On Your Knees
This is a wartime saying used by soldiers. Seems a bit dark for bingo but there you are!
44: Droopy Drawers
Take a closer look at the number 44. Looks like someone with sagging trousers, right?
And, of course, ‘drawers’ is British slang for pants.
45: Halfway There
This simply references the fact that 45 is the halfway point to 90. Not the most fun bingo call ever.
46: Up To Tricks
If someone is up to tricks, they’re usually up to no good.
47: Four and Seven
Um, I mean 47.
48: Four Dozen
12 dozens are … you guessed it, 48!
This is a reference to an old British show called The Adventures of a PC.
50: Half a Century
You don’t need to be a genius to work this one out.
51: Tweak of the Thumb
This is used interchangeably with “I love my mum.” It just depends on the bingo caller in question!
52: Danny La Rue
Danny La Rue is a famous British drag queen who has made his way into bingo calling legend!
53: Stuck In The Tree
How many cats get stuck in trees? It’s not a British thing exclusively but, my, it happens all the time!
54: Clean The Floor
When you go to bingo, the only thing you should be focused on is cleaning the floor with your rivals!
55: Snakes Alive
Look closely at the number 55 – looks like two slithering snakes, right?
56: Was She Worth It
This is a very old bingo call that goes way back to the 1920s when a marriage license cost 5 shillings and sixpence.
The idea was that the bingo caller would ask if she was worth it. Ha.
57: Heinz Varieties
Heinz used to be well known for its 57 varieties of canned beans.
58: Make Them Wait
An old rhyming call that possibly references steam engines.
59: Brighton Line
Another train reference, this one references the fact that you used to be able to get from London to Brighton in just 59 minutes via railway.
60: Five Dozen
Yep, you guessed it by now. 5 x 12 = five dozen.
61: Bakers Bun
A slightly trickier one to work out, Baker’s Bun is a rhyming call with an unknown origin.
62: Turn The Screw
Sometimes swapped for “tickety-boo” turn the screw is just means you’re now winning from a losing position. In other words, you’re ‘turning the screw’ on the opposition.
63: Tickle Me
This is probably the cheekiest of all bingo calls! We love it.
64: Red Raw
Then again, this one’s pretty cheeky, too! Well, it depends how you interpret it …
65: Old Age Pension
Brits used to retire at the grand old age of 65. That may have changed over the years but this bingo call remains.
66: Clickety Click
One of the most famous bingo calls of all time, clickety click is a fantastic rhyme that we all love.
67: Made In Heaven
This one is sometimes swapped for ‘stairway to heaven.’ If you’re a Led Zeppelin fan, you’d be disappointed if it wasn’t.
68: Saving Grace
This one is sometimes swapped for ‘pick a mate.’
69: Either Way Up
The number 69 looks the same when turned upside down. In other words, it’s the same ‘either way up!’
70: Three Score and 10
Remember when we said the number 20 is sometimes referred to as a ‘score’ by us Brits? When you add 3 of ‘em together and whack another 10 on top you’ve got 70.
71: Bang on the Drum
Those Led Zeppelin vibes are still coming …
72: Six Dozen
You know the score with this one by now.
73: Queen Bee
You’ll be the Queen Bee if this number is called out and you’ve got a Full House!
Unless you’re a man, of course.
74: Candy Store
Sometimes swapped for ‘hit the floor,’ this is just a cute and fun rhyme. Nothing special.
75: Strive and Strive
75-ball bingo is capped at, um, 75. So the idea here is that you’re ‘striving’ for a Full House.
If you’ve seen the musical The Music Man, you may remember that the parade was led by 76 trombones.
77: Sunset Strip
Brighton and Blackpool are as close as we get to a Sunset Strip in the UK!
78: Heaven’s Gate
Heaven’s Gate will be waiting for you when this number comes up!
79: One More Time
Nope, this has nothing to do with the Britney song. It just rhymes.
80: Eight and Blank
8 + blank = 80. Capiche?
81: Stop and Run
You’re probably thinking that there’s no way you can stop and run. And you’d be right.
British bingo, eh? So eccentric.
82: Straight on Through
The 8 and the 2 are meant to look like a fat lady with a duck.
83: Time For Tea
The only thing better than winning at bingo is enjoying your winnings with a nice cup of tea!
84: Seven Dozen
Thank goodness this is the last of those pesky dozens!
85: Staying Alive
Sadly, this predates the popular Bee Gees tune and thus has nothing to do with Barry Gibb.
86: Between The Sticks
A football reference (the goalie stands ‘between the sticks’). One for the lads.
87: Torquay in Devon
There’s a rumour that this is derived from Fawlty Towers but it’s actually based on an old rhyme.
88: Two Fat Ladies
One of the most popular bingo calls of all-time, two fat ladies is so-called because 88 literally looks like two fat ladies.
89: Nearly There
89 is nearly the highest bingo number possible, which means we are ‘nearly there.’
90: Top of the Shop
Top of the shop – in other words, the highest bingo call possible!
The History Of Bingo Calling and Numbers
There’s no concrete evidence for when bingo calls were first introduced, but certainly by the 1930s in Pre-War Britain the bingo hall scene was booming. Callers had been introduced and a new way of picking the numbers out meant that the process was no longer incorrect or subject to claims of being “fixed.”
From then onwards, various bingo calls have been added, with many – such as Dirty Gertie – going right back to the 1930s. Over the years, more and more calls have been added to the repertoire, and whilst many have remain unchanged, some are more fluid. For example, number 10 changes according to whoever is our Prime Minister (and thus lives at ‘number 10’!).
One things for sure: Whoever first ‘invented’ bingo calls deserves huge praise because phrases like “two fat ladies” have become so common in the British lexicon that they’re pretty much part of our culture!
How Pop Icons Change The Bingo Lingo?
As said, some bingo calls are fluid and are subject to change. And one of the reasons they change is because of pop icons.
Abba’s seventies hit Dancing Queen is behind the number 17, for example, but even that’s beginning to change as modern-day bingo callers sometimes use ‘Selfie Queen’ instead.
Garden Gate, meanwhile, was ‘Gareth Gates’ during the Pop Idol finalists heyday. Since he’s now disappeared from the public eye, it’s back to Garden Gate. Sorry, Gaz!
As time goes on, we’re sure that new pop icons will inspire more bingo calls.
Well, we for sure hope you had as much fun reading about bingo sayings and their origin as we did writing it! Bingo is one of the most fun games on the planet and bingo calls are a huge part of what makes it so entertaining.
Listen out for the bingo phrases the next time you go to a bingo hall and see if you can spot a new one that we haven’t covered!