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Bingo is as Popular with TV Viewers as it is With Gaming Fans

© by Pixabay

Casino-style games have long been of interest to TV and movie producers. Indeed, Hollywood offerings such as Rounders, 21, and Casino have all done well at the box office. Tropes that do well on the big screen typically do well on the small screen too, which is why a lot of popular games feature in TV shows around the world.

Poker is the obvious example. Hit shows such as Friends, the Sopranos, and Curb Your Enthusiasm have all had poker scenes. In fact, the latter brings us onto another casino-style game that’s found a home within the TV world. Avid watchers of Curb Your Enthusiasm will know that Larry’s father in the show, Nat, loved bingo. This, of course, gave us the now iconic kamikaze bingo scene.

Bingo Culture on British TV

As well as fleeting appearances in popular US TV shows, bingo is big in Britain. In fact, there are entire shows dedicated to the game. For example, Eyes Down was a BBC sitcom starring Paul O’Grady. Released in the early noughties, just as bingo was enjoying a renaissance, Eyes Down followed the life of Ray Temple (played by O’Grady). As the manager of a bingo hall in Liverpool, Temple saw all sorts of antics, including a wedding and indecent exposure.

Of course, if Temple was around today, things would be a bit different. For starters, you wouldn’t have to contend with a wedding-stopping play. Why? Because from new technology emerged live bingo games, which combine the best of both worlds. Players can stay at home on their computers and watch human hosts calling numbers via a live stream. The end result is a slick hybrid bingo experience where anyone can play from a location that suits. Therefore, if someone insists on playing during a wedding, the ceremony doesn’t need to interrupt the game.

Making Fun of Bingo

Another sitcom made in a similar fly-on-the-wall style format as Eyes Down was That Peter Kay Thing. Although it was only the subject of one episode, Peter Kay offered a sideways look at the inner workings of a bingo room from the perspective of different characters. Leading the charge was Patrick O’Neil (played by Kay). He was joined by Tom “King of the Callers” Dale (also played by Kay), and a cast of supporting characters. For a quirky take on the game and its culture, Eyes Down at the Bingo Hall is a must-watch (see video below).

Rounding out the bingo TV offerings from Britain is Lucky Numbers. No relation to the American game show pilot of the same name, this bingo-based game show was hosted by Shane Richie and ran on ITV from 1995 to 1997. The show starts with 200 audience members being assigned a random number. Three balls were drawn to determine which players got to play that week.

Players who made it into the game had to answer questions in order to fill their bingo cards and win prizes. For all intents and purposes, it was bingo with a bit of skill added to the mix. This, combined with the fact bingo is played by over 100 million worldwide according to Cult MLT, made Lucky Numbers a hit. Other casino-style games tend to steal the limelight when it comes to airtime, but bingo is more than capable of holding its own, and the shows we’ve highlighted prove that.