Lingo (UK game show)

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Genre Game show
Created by Harry de Winter
Presented by Martin Walker (1987)
Martin Daniels (1988)
Voices of Nick Jackson
Country of origin United Kingdom
Original language(s) English
No. of series 2
Running time 30 minutes (inc. adverts)
Production company(s) Thames in association with Ralph Andrews Presentations and Action Time (1988)
Distributor FremantleMedia
Original network Central (1987)
ITV (1988)
Picture format 4:3
Original release 1987 (1987) – 14 July 1988 (1988-07-14)
Related shows Lingo (US version)

Lingo is a British game show that originally aired as a regional programme for Central in 1987, then it became networked for all ITV regions in 1988.


The game is played between two teams of two players each. At the start of the game, each team is given a "Lingo" card with 25 spaces on it. One team's card contains even numbers and the other contains odd numbers. Seven numbers on each card are automatically covered at the start of the game.

The team in control is shown the first letter of a five-letter mystery word, after which, one team member must try to guess the word and then spell it out. Otherwise, the other team member takes a guess, then, the first team member takes the third guess and so on.

If the team fails to identify the word within five guesses, fails to answer at any time within the five-second time limit, or gives a misspelled or nonexistent word, or a word that does not fit, the other team gets a chance to guess. If there is more than one letter unrevealed, one of those letters is revealed and the team is given five seconds to make a guess. If there is only one unrevealed letter in the word, it is not revealed, but during the five seconds of thinking time, the team is allowed to confer – this is the only time when conferring between teammates is allowed.

The team that correctly guesses the mystery word earns £50, then gets a chance to pull two Lingo balls out of a hopper in front of them. Eighteen of the balls are labeled with numbers corresponding to the numbers on their Lingo board; when a numbered ball is drawn, the corresponding space on the Lingo card is covered. Also, in the hopper, are two prize balls; when one of them is drawn, it is put aside and the contestant who drew it gets to pick again.

Normally, after drawing their balls, the team keeps control and may guess at the next mystery word. However, the hopper contains three red balls as well; a team drawing one of these balls must immediately stop drawing and loses control (the opposing team gets to guess at the next mystery word). Once balls are drawn, they are discarded, so the same ball cannot be drawn twice in one game.

A team that cover numbers on their board that form a Lingo – five numbers in a vertical, horizontal or diagonal row – earns £100. The team with the most money wins the game and the right to play in the "No Lingo" bonus round.

No Lingo[edit]

The team is shown another Lingo card filled with even numbers. Sixteen numbers are covered before the start of the round, arranged in a star shape along the diagonals, middle row and middle column; the center space, where the free space is on a normal bingo card, is left uncovered. The hopper is loaded with 40 numbered balls (all the even numbers from 2 to 80 – this is unlike the main game in which only the numbers that actually appear on the Lingo card are loaded into the hopper), plus one silver ball. The contestants are given £100 to start. The team is then shown a five-letter mystery word with the first letter and one of the other four letters shown. The team is given the usual five chances to guess the mystery word; for each guess they'll use, they must draw one Lingo ball. If they fail to guess the word in five tries, they must draw an extra two balls, for a total of seven balls. If the team draws a numbered ball that appears on the board, that board space is covered and the ball is discarded, just like it would be in the normal game; if this forms a Lingo, the team immediately loses the bonus round and the prize money. If the team draws a numbered ball that does not appear on the board, nothing happens; the ball is simply discarded. (This is good for the players, since the object of the round is to avoid forming a Lingo.) If the team draws the silver ball, they are immediately allowed to stop drawing, their prize money is doubled and the silver ball is returned into the hopper. In addition, the ball corresponding to the center of the board was held by the host until the second word, then added in.

If they manage to draw the required number of balls (or draw the silver ball) without completing a Lingo, they'll double their money to £200. The team can then take that and quit, or try to double their money again by guessing another mystery word using the same rules. The Lingo board remains as it was, and any previously drawn numbered balls are still out of play, so the risk of forming a Lingo increases as time goes on. The team can try up to a total of five words, with the prize money doubling after each word; so the team can win £3,200 by trying all five words. If at any time a team makes Lingo in this round, the game is over, and the team's bonus winnings are reduced by half.

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