British Game Show Wiki
Martin Walker (1987)
Martin Daniels (1988)
Adil Ray (2021)
Nick Jackson
Central: 1987
ITV: 12 May 1988-14 July 1988
Lingo 2021.jpg
Thames Television (1987-1988)
Objective Media Group (2021)

Lingo was a game which was played a lot like bingo, except in order to mark your card, you had to guess a five-letter word within five turns to have a chance.

Gameplay (1987 Version)

At the start of the game, both teams received their lingo cards and each had ten numbers marked at the outset. The Red Team's card had odd numbers covered with blue circles and the Blue Team's card had even numbers covered with green circles.

The team in control had five guesses to get the word. All the team had to do was to guess the word, then spell it out (players on the controlling team took in turns while doing that). After each guess, the word was analyzed; a square meant that the letter was correct and in the right position, while a red letter meant that the letter was correct but in the wrong position. Failure to solve the word after five tries gave the opposing team a chance at the word. The team also lost control if they guessed a word that didn't fit, was not an acceptable word (including proper names unless they doubled as ordinary words), misspelled one, or ran out of time.

The team that guessed and spelled the word correctly earned £50 for that word, and the honor to pull out two lingo balls (to which its color matched the circles on the board) that were hopefully printed with one of the numbers on their lingo card. Pulling out one of the three red balls lost their turn, but not pulling out a red ball kept control and started another word. In addition to the number balls and the red balls, also in the teams' hoppers were two white prize balls. When pulled out, the controlling team won a prize. Each time a team made lingo, they scored £100. It is unknown what would have happened if their card was filled up.

The team with the most money when time was up won the game.

Bonus Round: No Lingo

The winning team played a bonus round called "No Lingo", so called because the object of the game was to not lingo and win up to £3,200. To start the winning team was shown a lingo card with the even numbers, and sixteen numbers (instead of ten) were crossed off and arranged in a star shape with the center number (usually the free space spot in regular bingo) left uncovered. The numbers were covered with yellow circles. The winning team was given £100 to start and then was shown a five letter mystery word but with two letters revealed at the start (one was as usual the first, and the other was in any one of the remaining four spaces). As always, the team had five chances to guess the word. Conferring was always allowed in this round. Each chance increased the danger of making lingo, because if they guessed the word, they receive the number of draws according to how many chances it took to guess the word, and missing the word entirely earned seven pulls. The hopper in front of the team consisted of all the bingo even numbers (2 though 74) printed on the yellow balls, plus one very special ball, "The Silver Ball". On each draw, if the number they drew appeared on the board, that number was covered up, but if the number pulled out was a number not showing on the board, nothing happens they just simply drew again. In the first round, the ball with the center number printed on it was not included. If the winning team survived all the pulls without making a lingo, they doubled their cash, and if they pulled out the silver ball, their money was doubled instantly, plus the silver ball was put back into the hopper (unlike the number balls which were always discarded when pulled out).

After each successful round, the winning team could choose to either take the money and quit, or continue playing knowing that if at anytime a lingo was formed, they lost half the money. Five words were played in this round, so if the winning team guessed and/or got past all five words and avoided lingo, they won £3,200.

Gameplay (2021 Version)

The current version is played with three teams of two instead of just two. Plus the bingo element of the game has been eliminated, making this version focusing on words only. Not only that, it is not restricted to just five letter words.

Round 1

In round one, each team gets three four-letter word puzzles with each one worth £200. A puzzle will end if the team in control does said violations mentioned above. After the first three puzzles, the team in control will have a chance at up to £300 by solving a Puzzle Word which is a 10-letter word puzzle. A puzzle is revealed followed by a clue to that puzzle. Then letter appear one by one with the value dropping the longer they play. As soon as they know the word, they must buzz-in and say the word and score the remaining pounds. The most a team can earn in this round is £900.

Round 2

Round two is played the same but with five letter words with each one now worth £300. This time however, if the team in control does said violations mentioned above, the opposing teams will get a chance to steal. The Puzzle Words is this round are 11 letters long and they are worth up to £400. The most a team can earn in this round is £1300. The team with the lowest amount at the end of this round will be eliminated from the game.

Round 3: Lingo Battle

In the final main round, individual players on each team will go head to head on four words (two for each player). The first pair of players will try to solve four letter words, while the other pair will try to solve four letter words. Violating certain rules allows the other player to play the rest of the puzzle. Each word is worth £500 minus £50 for each incorrect guess. Again after a set of regular puzzles, the active players will try to solve the Puzzle Word, this time with 12 letters in the answer. The two Puzzle Words in this round are toss-ups; the first player to buzz-in gets first shot at solving the word. A correct guess wins the remaining money, but an incorrect guess gives the opponent a chance to steal. Each puzzle is worth up to £750.

The team with the most money at the end of this round will go on to the final for a chance to double their money.


The winning team will have 90 seconds to solve three more words (a four letter word, a five letter word and a six letter word). If they violate any rule, the word is thrown out or they can pass on a word if they choose. Either way, a new word is given. Solving a four letter word only won half the money. Solving a five letter word afterward wins all their money and solving all three words doubles the money.

Additional Pages

List of Lingo episodes

YouTube Links

Final Episode