ONE of the last great British working class bastions is under threat of becoming sanitised in the name of political correctness – and it’s a move guaranteed to make hordes of Northern women shudder in horror.

Bingo, the popular pastime that requires zero skills and big dabbers, is getting a 21st century makeover, largely to attract a younger, hipper crowd, with the bingo lingo looking set to suffer as a result.

While the next generation of bingo players aren’t averse to crude references to bodily functions and love modern slang, according to the Bingo Association, they draw the line at the traditional bingo calls such as “two fat ladies - 88”, which has been changed at the new hipster bingo clubs to the much catchier “two body-positive ladies – 88”. I jest not. “Legs - 11” and “overweight – 28” have been phased out in favour of less potentially sexist or body-shaming bingo calls, most of which seems deadly dull, if not downright daft. How about “Instagram scene – 14”? or “Not another Brexit debate – 48”? Most nonsensical of all – and taking the prize for the bingo call least likely to trip off the tongue is this modern-day gem: “Scrolling through the ex’s pics – 56”.

As per usual, the joint pursuit of modernisation and sanitisation has resulted in nothing more than taking any last vestige of fun out of this traditional game.

Bingo-goers are probably not particularly known for their pearl-clutching sensitivity or espousal of the politically correct cause. While the image of the curler-wearing, slipper-clad, dabber-wielding harridan with a cigarette dangling from her mouth might now be a tad outdated, it’s probably fair to say that the type of women (and, of course, men!) who get their kicks from playing bingo are down-to-earth people who have little truck with the modern curse of political correctness.

The quest to attract younger people to the game is understandable. It’s a lucrative, largely untapped market; and with bingo halls closing at a rate of knots, the industry needs all the help it can get. But I hope the slightly bawdy, rough and ready nature of bingo isn’t sacrificed on the altar of PC trendiness.

Bingo calling is one of the great British working class traditions; and it would be a shame to see the back of the game’s clichéd but much-loved phrases. I’ve no idea what most of them mean - but they’re as British an institution as fish, chips and peas – which is 33 in the much-loved lexicon of bingo calling.