Welcome to Brett’s Corner – a monthly column by the 2006 Bingo Caller Of The Year and GalaTV caller.
Calling For Celebrities
It was the late summer of 2005 and I was preparing for the regional finals of the Bingo Caller Of The Year, when I received a phone call from the NBGA. ‘Brett, would you be able to call a game of Bingo at this years TV Quick Soap Awards in association with the charity Bingo For Breakthrough?’ Hmmn… alright then! It was being held in the Dorchester Hotel in London and was a proper full-tuxedo event. Me and a hall full of celebrities-how could I say no?
WOW! This was going to be great! My girlfriend was so pleased for me, and my customers in Bognor were chuffed to bits as well. I was surprised that even though I hadn’t won the Bingo caller of the year yet, the National Bingo Game were happy for me to call such a high profile event!
The waiting for the big day flew by and before I knew it I was outside the Dorchester Hotel dressed up to the nines! It was fantastic and surreal to say the least! At the beginning I was at the entrance with the charity, handing out pink wristbands to all the celebs; from Cilla Black to Anthony off of Big Brother (5/6/7 whatever one!) It was great! Then we went into the hall and sat at the table for our meal.
I was initially meant to be sitting with the very lovely Melinda Messenger and Gaby Roslin (mmm… tottie sandwich!) but they never arrived. I had to make do with sitting next to Myleene Klass instead! We spent about 15 minutes talking about the intricacies of Bingo, which I suppose was a nice change to her from the usual celebrity gossip! Anyway, during the meal the girls from Breakthrough went around the tables, selling the Bingo tickets for the charity at £10 FOR ONE TICKET! It was all for a good cause though and most of the tables were buying 20-30 sets! Fran Cosgrove bought 18, just for himself and his Atomic Kitten girlfriend as she was such a Bingo fan!
We were in the process of finishing dessert when my moment had arrived: I was about to make myself known to the celebrities of the country and hopefully convert some Bingo virgins into Bingo bonkers players! I got up on stage and introduced myself and gave them a brief overview on how to play the great game. I then introduced the celebrity who was going to help me with the calling: Anthony Cotton off of Corrie! We had asked him earlier on in the evening if he was willing to take part as his screen character had worked as a Bingo caller?! (I don’t know I never watch the soaps: I’m too busy working!) He was very accommodating to the cause; and that and the copious amounts of complimentary drinks had aided his decision into making a potential fool of himself alongside me and his peers!
We only played one game, but the prizes donated were fantastic; a make-over session and two holidays! The celebrities insisted on us calling the game the old Bingo lingo way, which I suppose, livened up the whole thing and it was fun to see that I had 200 TV executives and celebrities playing Bingo. For your information, Vernon Kay won the two lines (and gave his holiday prize away to a local kid’s charity in Bolton) and Philip Schofield’s wife won the full-house (I can never remember who won the line – it wasn’t a celeb!)
After the Bingo the awards ceremony began in earnest and I was allowed to stay and watch. It was brilliant and during the ceremony Gloria Hunniford grabbed me and thanked me for all my help in the events of the evening and that she had enjoyed playing some Bingo! Gloria had started the whole event off with a fantastic speech about the charity and what it stood for, and meant to her, and receiving thanks from her made all my efforts worthwhile.
The awards ceremony took a couple of hours, after which there was an after show party in the bar upstairs which, guess what, I was invited to! I would love to say that I saw all sorts of debauchery going on but it was just like a normal party. People dancing, drinking and chatting. I would love to say that I was the life and soul of the party but I just sat in the corner with the Breakthrough crew talking about the event. After about half an hour I decided to leave the event, as I had to be up a six in the morning for a meeting in Coventry the next day!
As I wandered out I came across the celebrity must have at these events: the goodie bag! I can never understand that these soap stars, which get paid handsomely in most cases; get thrust so much free stuff upon them. Apparently at the last Oscar ceremony the goodie bags at some parties contained over £20,000 worth of cosmetics, gadgets and clothes! This particular goodie bag at the Breakthrough event contained around £200 worth of goodies, from make-up to DVD’s to free cinema tickets. The girls from the event were putting them out as I was leaving and I asked if I could have one. “Sure why not, you did a great job tonight” they said. Fantastic, free presents for the missus. A great night all round!
Breakthrough For Breast Cancer is a charity that the Bingo Association have been heavily involved with in the last few years: Bingo For Breakthrough week is coming to a club near you soon so dig deep and help the cause!