Many celebrities have been associated with bingo over the years, and this has often been with regards to advertising. In recent times, renowned names such as EastEnders’ Barbara Windsor, Towie’s Joey Essex, and Mel B – aka Scary Spice – have all participated in adverts for providers. Many of the sessions themselves also have a celebrity link, with quiz shows and soaps, like the Chase and Corrie, being part of the array on offer. But this raises the question – how many of these stars are really interested in the game? Well, we’ve looked into which of the celebs enjoy a few rounds of bingo in their free time, and the answer might surprise you.
Bingo was a big part of the Oscar-winning actress’ childhood when she was growing up in Wales, as both of her parents played fairly regularly. In fact, it could be said that the game got the Welsh beauty started on the path to stardom. Catherine’s father won an incredible £100,000 during one of the sessions, which would have been even more considerable in those days, and this allowed him to pay for her dance and ballet lessons. By all accounts, Catherine still plays a few sessions at home at Christmas, going so far as to create her own set of balls and cards. Now that’s dedication.
The football star shocked everyone when he told a Portuguese reporter how much he loved the game. “Playing bingo can be very exciting because you can be there waiting for a long time for just the one number,” he explained. Ronaldo first took to the game after purchasing a bingo DVD as a way of improving his English skills. In truth, once the strange lingo had started to flow, he could well have become even more confused about the language. Instead though, he found that playing the game helped him to pick up some new words and phrases, and he was soon hooked on it.
Known for her wild partying, Kate Moss is not exactly the person you’d imagine playing a few rounds of bingo at home on weekends. However, it would appear that the iconic supermodel is a huge fan of the game. In 2011, her great mate, Sadie Frost, described in an interview how the two of them like to spend their Saturdays. “We cook lunch for our kids and hang out in the garden,” she revealed, and then went onto explain how the evenings are spent playing bingo. Sounds like the perfect day.
The boys of Take That are reputed to be big fans of bingo, with both Gary Barlow and Robbie Williams playing the 90-ball bingo game at home. Robbie has even participated in a few rounds for charity, playing once in Hollywood and also in his hometown of Stoke-on-Trent – which must have been a bit of a different experience. Impressively, Robbie even managed to squeeze a few rounds into one of his videos. The video for ‘Feel’, which was released in 2002, begins with a macho Robbie on horseback in his cowboy gear, and ends with him playing bingo with Daryl Hannah. It’s quite a transformation.
He may be a superstar now, but back in the day, the Gladiator actor pent his evenings working as a bingo caller in his New Zealand homeland. Rumour has it that the Gladiator star was fired from his role after using inappropriate language in front of his Rotorua audience, so it would seem that his fiery personality was much in evidence even then. Although he lost his job, Crowe wasn’t discouraged from playing the game, and is believed to take part in a few sessions whenever he gets the opportunity.
The rock legend and bingo might seem an unlikely pairing, but the two have history. In the sixties, the Rolling Stones played at many local venues, which have since become bingo halls. The Granada Theatre in Rugby, which hosted the Stones in 1964, was later sold to Gala, and in Stevenage, the Locarno now belongs to Mecca. This isn’t the singer’s only link to the game, however. Jagger is believed to be a true enthusiast and regularly hosts huge bingo parties at his home. Wouldn’t you like to be a fly on that particular wall?
Comedian Ricky Tomlinson is probably best known for his portrayal of grumpy Jim Royle, but he is also a real bingo enthusiast. In 2006, Tomlinson surprised members of a club in Bolton by popping in to call the numbers – in his trademark vest, of course. “I love the game,” he explained. “When I go to Spain, we go to a bingo club where the caller shouts the numbers in five languages.” Tomlinson’s passion for the game led to him linking up with Mecca to release a celebrity DVD of bingo. Perhaps this was the one that Ronaldo bought.
Queen Elizabeth II
We finish by moving from the Royles to the Royals because, somewhat astonishingly, Prince William is alleged to have played bingo while he was in training at Sandhurst. Back in 2006, the Sun newspaper and BBC reported that the second-in-line to the throne had participated in a game at the Mecca Hall in Reading, having signed on with the name, William Harry. His attendance was said to be the result of a jokey suggestion made by one of his fellow cadets, but there may also have been some familial influence. His grandmother, Queen Elizabeth II, is believed to be an avid fan of the game herself. There’s no greater endorsement than that!