Bingo was booming in the UK in the 1980s and 90s, and there were nearly 600 halls in Britain by 2005. Brits just love a lottery-themed game of chance with instant winnings available, and watching the ball-based pastime on TV presented by national treasures like Bob Monkhouse was incredibly enjoyable. With bingo currently undergoing a huge online renaissance, it’s about time that bingo-themed shows returned to our screens. Here are a couple of classics that a new programme could draw inspiration from.
Bob’s Full House
This 80s masterpiece presented by the late, great Bob Monkhouse was a mainstay on BBC1 for six years between 1984 and 1990. Four contestants competed to fill up their bingo cards by answering general knowledge quiz questions. If they answered correctly a number would be covered up, but incorrect numbers meant players had to miss the next turn. After three rounds the winning contestant got to play the Gold Card on their own, for a chance to win a holiday. The show was so popular it even led to international spinoffs in America, Finland, Germany, Greece and Portugal.
The simplicity of the show was what made it classic entertainment for busy working people who didn’t want to think too much. This ease of access could be why bingo has found such a wide market in the online universe. There are plenty of online bingo sites where people can play and reminisce about shows like Bob’s Full House. Even new players can get involved and learn to play bingo with William Hill, where there are detailed instructions about how to play all the modern twists on the classic game.
Inspired by Bob’s Full House, Lucky Numbers was a hit bingo show in the late 90s. It ran for three years between 1995 and 1997. Shane Ritchie hosted the programme before he made a name for himself as Alfie Moon in EastEnders. The idea was to fill up a scorecard by answering questions in a similar fashion to its BBC1 predecessor. Contestants competed against one another for three rounds, and the winner of the third round went into the final “Cash Dash” round.
The final round was where Lucky Numbers differed from Monkhouse’s show. At the start, the lucky contestant was offered a chance to gamble as much as they wanted of the cash they had already accumulated with the chance to win up to £20,000. They then faced a game board numbered 1-25. To win, the player had to get five squares in a row in any direction in 45 seconds or less. To do this they were required to answer quick-fire questions correctly.
Both shows enjoyed success while they were on air because of the simple formula and the quiz slant that gave viewers at home the chance to play along. So how could a modern-day show adapt to the online bingo universe that exists today? Well, one way would be to have different rounds to incorporate all the various other games that now come offered with bingo, such as question-based slots and singalong-type chat games.