Today we bring you some rather sad news; the man who introduced the bingo game to national newspapers has passed away. Derek Jameson, who was 82, died at his home yesterday following a heart attack. Mr Jameson introduced our favourite game to the Daily Star a few years after he became the editor (1978 succeeding Peter Grimsditch). This was something that rival publications adopted later following the success of newspaper bingo and is still offered by some now.
It was 1981 when the bingo game was introduced to the Daily Star and it was a concept that was used to try and win the circulation war. Bingo cards were posted through letterboxes and the numbers printed in the daily newspaper. It didn’t take long for The Sun and later Robert Maxwell with the Daily Mirror to follow suit and the battle raged to see which tabloid could be the first to give away £1 million.
The game soon caught the public’s attention and we even saw The Sun publish the wrong numbers on one occasion causing their phone lines to be jammed with complaints!
TV-am even joined in with the newspaper bingo craze and started to announce the numbers from the papers every morning. In 1984 The Daily Express (which Derek Jameson was an editor of from 1977 until June 1980) boosted the interest in the game with a one million pound jackpot prize with the “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” game that was advertised on television.
Bingo cards were later distributed with the publications and many a reader eagerly awaited the next day’s numbers to see if they would win the top prize. Even today the game is still played and you’ll find many a post across the Internet asking, “What were the [insert newspaper] bingo numbers for [insert date]”.
Derek Jameson was well known for many things but for us he will always be the man who brought bingo to the masses.