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Eyes Down! The Story of Bingo

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Good old BBC4: not only have they managed to turn this much-mocked hobby into a thoroughly educational documentary, they’ve even found professors of bingo to add a certain amount of academic clout.

It turns out that more people play it than watch professional football or go to church, and saucy “bingo lingo” first entertained the troops.

We also learn why it was particularly popular with working women, the Catholic Church and criminals when gaming laws were relaxed in 1960 and Brits began to flock to bingo halls in their millions. As ever, there are plenty of archive clips to illustrate and amuse.


In January 1961, the game of bingo turned into a multimillion-pound business almost overnight. This documentary explores how what started out as an occasional seaside flutter became the favoured pastime of nearly a quarter of the population, leading to moral panic about the dangers of easy prize-money. Narrated by Sarah Lancashire.

Cast & Crew

Narrator Sarah Lancashire
Director Rebecca Whyte
Producer Rebecca Whyte


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