How we play our beloved game of bingo has changed considerably over the last decade. The premise of the bingo game hasn't changed much – it's still Balls, Numbers, and Prizes, but the emergence of live bingo events with comedy, karaoke, music, and just about everything else all thrown together, has meant that the UK bingo scene has taken on a few new dimensions recently.
Now, just when you thought you had seen it all playing bingo (we're looking at you Bongo's Bingo), there comes a new, fun, and innovative way to get our bingo fix. Making some noticeable chatter in the Liverpool bingo community is Bingo Star a new show being held at Liverpool's Royal Court Theatre.
Fusing theatre, comedy, and real bingo games with real cash prizes, Bingo Star, opening Friday, March 10th, looks set to be a winner!
Interviewing Iain Christie, Creator of Bingo Star
Unable to attend ourselves, Bingo Daily caught up with the show's creator Iain Christie, to get the lowdown on Bingo Star and find out what all the fuss is all about.
BD: Iain, you are the creator of Bingo Star, an exciting and fresh new show. Can you tell our readers more about it, please? What can we expect?
Bingo Star is a comedy full of live 80s music which is set in an old Bingo Hall in Liverpool. There is a new shopping centre planned which means the building will have to be knocked down and the show is all about Arthur, the bingo caller, and his friends and family as they try to save the club. They try all sorts of things but there is a million-pound national game at the end of the month and they are pinning their hopes on that. The difference between this and most other shows is that there are three bingo games during the show and the audience play along with the cast. The line prize is £50 for each game so we are giving away £150 at every performance!
We’ve got a great cast and an amazing creative team so we think that this will be a really good show.
On Getting a Taste of Bingo
BD: What gave you the inspiration for the show? and what was your own personal journey into the world of bingo? Do you play bingo now?
Writing the show, I’d only ever played bingo at social clubs and on holidays. Very relaxed and fun, without anyone taking it too seriously. A few years ago the football team that I play for had an end of season fundraiser in a social club. We had a raffle and a quiz planned but then someone found a bingo machine. I ended up being the caller and, without a clue what I was doing, made up lots of calls as I went along. Everyone who was there for the fundraiser had a ball but I got a real telling off from some of the regulars. I learned that night that bingo should be taken seriously!
As I was writing the play I went to a few clubs in Liverpool to get a taste for it and I found it to be a lot quicker and more serious than I expected. No funny calls, just get the numbers out as quickly as possible. The staff and a lot of the players were really nice and welcoming but as soon as the games began there was no messing around. The bingo games in Bingo Star are much more end-of-the-pier than that. I’ve written lots of Liverpool themed calls and the pace is definitely set for non-players. No frantic dabbing needed!
BD: With bingo halls closing up and down the country; Mecca Bingo closed seven just last week, your show appears bang on point. What, in your opinion needs to be done to save UK bingo halls?
It’s a real shame that the old bingo culture is dying off in the UK. When I was researching the play, the thing that struck me most was the difference between the advertising and the experience. The ads were full of happy, smiling groups of people chatting and laughing as they played. My experience in the clubs was people keeping their heads down, no talking and try to keep up with rapid-fire numbers. There were all sorts of extra games going on with little or no explanation and lots of slot machines all over the room. It felt more like a way to lose money than to have fun. There was a wide range of people of all ages in there so I don’t think that it’s an age thing but it can be an intimidating place to go if you are a bingo virgin.
There is a club night here in Liverpool called Bongo’s Bingo which is firmly aimed at students and people in their 20s. It has loads of music, dancing on tables and downing shots when certain numbers are called. I don’t think that the clubs need to go that far but I think that a lot of the big chain clubs could do with injecting a bit more fun back into the game.
Logistical Challenges? – “Iain has worked all that out”
BD: Back to Bingo Star, it is on at Liverpool’s Royal Court from March 10th to April 8th, what logistics are involved in playing bingo in a theatre?
Ha! Yes, that’s the big question! When I had the idea I thought “Why hasn’t anyone done this before?” and now I know. The big difficulty is the length of the games. There will be between 500 and 1,000 people in the room for each show so I think that a line should be called between 10 and 15 numbers in. There is a chance though that it could go on for a lot longer! We have got a plan B and a plan C to finish the games within a reasonable amount of time just in case.
Everyone from the producer to the director to the actors have asked me that question and when I start to explain it they glaze over. It is now covered with a general “Iain has worked all that out” so I’ll be sitting there with my fingers crossed each night that it works! We have also ordered 15,000 bingo cards, loads of pencils and a few dabbers too. I didn’t explain that bit of the budget to the producer before we went on sale!
BD: Any plans to take the show nationwide?
There are no plans at the moment but I would love it to happen. Liverpool’s Royal Court is an independent theatre up here in Liverpool so they tend to produce shows as one-offs. I think that the show has got a big appeal to an audience that might not go to traditional theatres so if there is anyone reading this who would like it to come to your town or city, contact your local theatre and tell them to get in touch!
BD: Lastly, where can people get further information or buy tickets if still available?
The show runs from 10 March to 8 April at Liverpool’s Royal Court. If you would like to find out more, give them a call at 0151 709 4321 or go to https://liverpoolsroyalcourt.com/whats-on/bingo-star
Book soon, we’re hoping for a full house!
BD: Thank you Iain!, we are sure it will be a hit. From the team at Bingo Daily, thank you for your time and break a leg!
Ben has been an massive bingo enthusiast and fan since playing at the seaside as a kid. Dedicated to bringing you the latest and best bingo news from the UK