Brett’s Corner – December 2007

Welcome to Brett’s Corner – a monthly column by the 2006 Bingo Caller Of The Year and GalaTV caller.

Entertaining The Players – Staff Shows

Have you been to your Bingo clubs Christmas show? The staff show is one of those things that all customers love: there’s nothing better for a player than seeing the caller who hasn’t given you a win in ages dressing up and acting like a pillock! Many bring their cameras and some even bring camcorders to document the humiliation!

My first experience of the staff show was just a few weeks into my Bingo career. I was working in a club that were big on shows and so no expense was spared. The theme was pantomime so we all dressed as characters from numerous pantos. I was Prince Charming (of course) but as it was my first show I only ran around giving out change and being dashing, windswept and interesting!

I didn’t get let off on any other shows though. We did a show once every few months and it was always themed and always coincided with a big event. For the Queens Golden Jubilee we did a decades theme. I was the 60’s era and sang a bit of the Beatles! Another time me and three other staff members did the full Monty! I’ve been a snowman, Santa Claus and even a contestant on a spoof of Pop Idol called Bone Idol! For every show we had to rehearse weeks in advance and a lot of free time was sacrificed (unpaid) to put on the best show since the previous one!

But is the staff show becoming an endangered event? Have you noticed that your club is staging fewer and fewer special Performances for the customers? Where have the jamborees and party nights gone? What’s going on, eh?

I think the tough couple of years that the Bingo industry has had to deal with may have affected Bingo managers priorities somewhat, especially from the big companies. The onus seems to be on ‘streamlining’ and maximizing gaming opportunities instead of singing and dancing! But before you start saying that its all about grabbing our money, maybe the players (yes, YOU) could be to blame for this demise as well, and I shall explain why…

Most of the shows I did were performed after the Bingo had finished and no matter what we did (apart from the full Monty!) most of the customers would dash off to catch the bus/train or get back to watch the soaps that they had taped that night. The only time we could guarantee a captive audience was when we sacrificed an interval in the middle of the Bingo to do it (something that we could never do now!) All our weeks of practice would only get seen by a handful of players and our family and friends!

Maybe 21st century Bingo, with its million pound games and its electronic terminals and rollover jackpots is morphing into something away from the old fashioned “blue rinse/clickety click/win a tin of beans on the line” type of thing that most non-players think Bingo is all about (which could be a good thing?) It could be just a regional thing: does the North and Scotland do more big events and shows for the customers than the South? (Which is my neck of the woods and what my comments are based upon.) I don’t know; but one thing I do know is that doing the shows and making our players laugh and sing and dance was always one of the highlights of working in the industry and I for one would not like to see it go.

What do you think? I have posted a couple of clips on some of the frivolities had in Bingo halls across the country-if you have any photos/video of your local Bingo staff acting like fools then send it into the site so we could all reminisce about the good old days!

Well I’m on the telly over christmas but am travelling back to Bognor to visit the family for the new year. Have a great festive period and see you in 2008!

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