Page last updated at 02:59 GMT, Sunday, 27 December 2009

Bingo caller told to cut 'fat ladies' patter by council

Bingo game
It is thought around 1.5m people play bingo in the UK every week

A bingo caller has been advised to stop using phrases such as "two fat ladies" for fear of offending his audience.

John Sayers, who runs charity games in Sudbury, Suffolk, says he was told by a council clerk the traditional bingo call could upset some players.

Mr Sayers said no-one had complained before, but now players moaned his new numbers-only style was boring.

A town council spokeswoman said it was "sad" they had to give the advice but they had to be "politically correct".

The 75-year-old, a member of Sudbury Town Council and former town mayor, said the clerk advised him to cut the traditional comic calls in case the authority found itself facing legal action.

'Tradition of game'

"The concern was that if there might be two large ladies in the audience when I said 'two fat ladies 88' or someone might think I was looking at their legs when I said 'legs 11'," he said.

"I was advised that someone might take offence and we could end up being taken to court."

He added: "No-one had ever complained about being offended. But they moan now they say it's boring. And I think just saying the numbers is boring too.

"I'm obviously not being offensive - just having a bit of fun. It's the tradition of the game and part of our language."

Mr Sayers' use of traditional calls was backed by Rob Hutchinson, who runs

"I'm sure any ladies of larger size who go to bingo don't find it insulting but take it in the affectionate spirit in which it's meant," he said.

"What's the alternative, 'two generously proportioned people of either gender?' It's not very snappy."

A council spokeswoman told the East Anglian Daily Times: "In particular with John being a councillor we have to be politically correct."

She added: "It is very sad because it is part of the fun of bingo but unfortunately in today's society people take it literally."

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