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)

Kelly’s Eye

One Little Duck 

Cup of Tea

Knock at the Door

Man Alive 

Tom Mix

Lucky Seven

Garden Gate

Doctor’s Orders

Cameron’s Den

Legs 11

Unlucky For Some 

Valentine’s Day

Young and Keen

Sweet 16

Coming of Age

Coming of Age

Goodbye Teens

One Score

Royal Salute

Two Little Ducks 

Thee and Me

Two Dozen

Duck and Dive

Pick and Mix

Gateway to Heaven

Over Weight 

Rise and Shine 

Dirty Gertie 

Get Up and Run 

Buckle My Shoe 

Dirty Knee

Ask For More

Jump and Jive

Three Dozen

More Than 11

Christmas Cake 


Naughty 40

Time For Fun

Winnie The Pooh

Down On Your Knees

Droopy Drawers

Halfway There

Up To Tricks 

Four and Seven 

Four Dozen


Half a Century 

Tweak of the Thumb 

Danny La Rue

Stuck In The Tree

Clean The Floor

Snakes Alive

Was She Worth It 

Heinz Varieties 

Make Them Wait 

Brighton Line

Five Dozen

Bakers Bun

Turn The Screw

Tickle Me 63

Red Raw

Old Age Pension 

Clickety Click 

Made In Heaven

Saving Grace

Either Way Up

Three Score and 10

Bang on the Drum

Six Dozen

Queen B

Candy Store 

Strive and Strive 


Sunset Strip

Heaven’s Gate

One More Time 

Eight and Blank

Stop and Run

Straight on Through 

Time For Tea

Seven Dozen

Staying Alive 

Between The Sticks 

Torquay in Devon 

Two Fat Ladies 

Nearly There

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. 

Numbers Shape

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. 

Nice pins. 

Historical References

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 

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. 

  1. 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. 

39: Steps 

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 

4+7= 8.

Um, I mean 47. 

48: Four Dozen

12 dozens are … you guessed it, 48!

49: PC

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. 

76: Trombones 

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!