Although the first form of bingo originated in Italy, it arrived on British shores in the eighteenth century and developed a lingo derived from the vaults of history in previous centuries. It has also been updated by modern trends. The heritage of some of these callouts is a great lesson in how traditional influences can shape modern entertainment.
1. Doctor’s Orders, Number Nine:
Originating from World War II, ‘Doctor’s Orders’ is thought to be taken from the designated number – nine – of a Field Medical Planner. Number nine pills were allegedly slang for a laxative that helped soldiers control their bodily functions during the stresses of war. It is also claimed that 9 pm was the time army medics and doctors closed their rounds for the evening.
2. Man Alive, Number Five:
‘Man Alive’ has its origins in the old tales from seafarers who were would shout out the phrase when they found a survivor against all the odds from a shipwreck. Interestingly, a version of bingo, then named tombola, was played on Royal Navy ships in the 1880s. That’s a far cry from traditional bingo halls or the host of bingo offers that are open to modern-day players online.
3. Never Been Kissed, Sweet 16
The influence of music in the development of number calling is present from the distant past too. ‘Never Been Kissed, Sweet 16’ has a rich song-laden history going back to its original recording in 1932 by the Blue Mountaineers. It has had the cover treatment from Shirley Temple and Irish crooner, Val Doonican.
4. Number 28: The Old Braggs, In a State
The 28th North Gloucestershire Regiment of Foot served in many important British military campaigns up until 1881. These included the American War of Independence, the Napoleonic Wars and the French Revolutionary Wars. The nickname was in honour of Colonel Philip Bragg who commanded the unit for 25 years. ‘In a State’ is from the Cockney rhyming slang “I got into a right two and eight.”
5. Number 18: Key of the Door, Now you can Vote
The ‘key of the door’ relates to a timeframe that children who were living with their parents would come into the house. However, once they reached the age of adulthood, no longer would their mother and father need to stay up to let their offspring in. Children could be the arbiters of when they were able to return with their own access.
6. Number 62: Turn of the Screw, Tickety-boo, to Waterloo
The cost of the bus or perhaps train fare from Waterloo to Portsmouth taken by the ranks of the Royal Navy was 6/2 in old money, while Tickety-boo is old army slang meaning things are in good order. ‘Turn of the Screw’ was a novella published by the world-famous author Henry James, who, on reflection, called this particular effort, “literature drivel.” The novella was about a governess in a remote country house trying to protect her orphaned family from ghostly apparitions.
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