Welcome to Brett’s Corner – a monthly column by the 2006 Bingo Caller Of The Year and GalaTV caller.
Bingo Caller Of The Year 2007
Well done to Blake Robson who takes on the mantle of Bingo Caller Of The Year for the next 12 months. Although it was by no means an easy task for him to win it. There were 5 other finalists who were also bidding for the trophy and it made for a thrilling final; and a tough one for me as a judge!
The weekend began in earnest at a five star hotel in London overlooking Tower Bridge and the River Thames. The night before the final is a chance to get to know the competitors and their partners a little bit more, and so that each caller can meet each other and suss out the competition! The NBGA spare no expense for the best callers in the country and they were treated to a divine three course meal with a free bar, which I must admit I took full advantage of! Once the meal was finished it was an early night for all (hmmmmmmm!) to prepare for the big day!
And the big day starts bright and early for us all as we need to be dressed and ready to start the day by 8:45am (this is an alien time for a typical Bingo caller!) We arrive at the Bingo club for around 10am and prepare for the grand final! Being the judge this time is quite a surreal experience-there are no nerves for me, just the excitement and anticipation of finding a new winner. The finalists and their partners on the other hand are feeling the pressure and the nerves are abundant.
As readers of my blog are aware there are 2 parts to the contest-both are worth half the marks. Now the interview this year was one of the toughest yet, and it was a task for any Bingo caller to get all the questions correct. Want to know what they were? OK then!
1 (Caller question): You are calling the early session and are on the second page (Blue) you get a claim for the line only to discover that the customer is playing the second page on the early session but the page is a different colour (red) The books have been stapled in the wrong order and you notice that about 10 other customers have the same problem also: what do you do?
2 (Industry question): before the 2005 gaming act what was the maximum amount of APM that we could give away on a link game; and since September how much APM can we put on a link game now?
3 (PR question): The manager and assistant are off and have left you in charge for the day. You get a phone call from a local TV news team asking if they could come to your club this afternoon to do a positive story on the popularity of Bingo and how it’s attracting a wide spectrum of people. A typical wet and windy Monday afternoon session however is only about 60 people. What do you do?
Now I wanted to give you these questions for a couple of reasons: to show you guys that a callers job is not just about calling; and that those questions on there own represent over a 1/6th of the total marks awarded! If you want the answers then you might want to ask your local Bingo manager or caller (that’s if they could answer them!)
After the drilling of the interview the fun part begins and the callers do there entertainment piece and call the Bingo numbers. Singing, magic and jokes were the order of the day and all the callers held the audience well.
And then for the last time the judges, including myself went into our dark room to total up the points and find our new champion. It was a nice feeling when we totted up the points and found that Blake had won. One of the worst things though is that there is about a 10 minute gap between finding the winner and announcing it on stage: so you have to go up to all the finalists with a poker face on-not giving the game away! But once the winner was announced the place erupted. Blake was a deserving winner, although it still hadn’t sunk in as he got sent off to the media for photos and interviews! I’m sure he’s going to do a fine job for the next 12 months and I hope that he and his partner have a wonderful time in America.
As for me though I am just plain old Brett the Bingo caller now! An Ex-Bingo Caller Of The Year! But if you want to keep on hearing me then I’ll still keep on ranting. There’s still plenty more to come from me yet! And now without the title I can be a little bit more opinionated than I used to be! (Nice!)
Following are some links, photos and videos from the day, thanks for reading and see you at the Bingo!
Blake Robson with the trophy
Tower Bridge, close to the hotel