Although bingo’s roots lie in 16th-century Italy, the numbers-based game found mainstream popularity in Britain during the 1960s. Over the next 60 years, the activity went from strength to strength, with bingo halls cropping up throughout the United Kingdom. As the game continued to evolve, so did its terminology, with London significantly influencing bingo’s light-hearted callouts. So, let’s explore some of the numbers that have a link to England’s capital city.
Cockney Rhyming Slang
In the early 19th century, rhyming slang rose to prominence in the East End of London. As such, the form of word construction became better known as Cockney rhyming slang. By the Collins Dictionary definition, and as the name suggests, the informal language uses words or phrases that rhyme with the normal term. Fascinatingly, rhyming slang is scattered throughout British bingo nicknames.
Number six, for example, is commonly referred to as Tom Mix, while 38 is Christmas cake. In a state is the regular callout for number 28. These, however, aren’t the only uses of Cockney rhyming slang within bingo. Essentially, these merely act to bring an element of humour and light-hearted entertainment to the numbers-based activity.
30 – Dirty Gertie
Some of the commonly-used nicknames have deeper meanings relating to London’s culture and sightseeing opportunities. A leading example of the city’s impact on the game is evident from number 30, which is Dirty Gertie. Regarding its meaning, this term rhymes with Gertrude, which is the name given to Emile Oscar Guillaume’s La Delivrance statue. Located in Finchley, the creation was unveiled in October 1920 and is a memorial to celebrate the First Battle of the Marne.
Dirty Gertie showcases the deep-rooted impact of London on bingo. Even though the game has developed with the rise of online bingo platforms, such as those at Best New Bingo Sites, historical features and iconic callouts haven’t been forgotten. Because of that, many new up-and-coming sites, like Pizazz Bingo and Ruby Loot, which both harness the modern online setting by offering sign-up bonuses, will retain the light-hearted fun that comes from traditional nicknames. Ultimately, this is one reason why online bingo has succeeded: because it hasn’t shied away from its roots.
49 – PC
In addition to the above numbers, 49 is another frequently used London-related bingo callout. Unlike the other examples in this piece, this is the first nickname that doesn’t rhyme. Instead, it refers to the popular radio show, The Adventures of PC 49. Airing in the 1940s, the production took place in London and followed PC Archibald Berkeley-Willoughby.
After enjoying radio success, a subsequent film of the show hit the big screens in 1949, with Hugh Latimer playing the protagonist. Much like Dirty Gertie, even though it was well-received prior to bingo’s rise in the 1960s, it remains central to the game in modern-day society.
London’s Relationship with Bingo is Deeper Than Many Think
The perception is that bingo callouts predominantly consist of quirky Cockney rhyming slang. To an extent, that’s true. However, some of the numbers have a story to them, such as 30 and 49. As such, few can argue that London has had a minimal impact on the numbers-based game, with it being at the heart of various iconic nicknames.