Bongo's Bingo Tackles Lockdown with Interactive Streams
Over 2 million people joined in via Twitch & Facebook Live!
April 1, 2020
As everyone knows who has been to a show, it’s in Bongo’s Bingo’s DNA to bring people together, be immersed in pure escapism and have a great laugh with friends, family, colleagues and loved ones – no matter what.
But as the Covid-19 crisis has engulfed the world, life has shockingly been turned on its head and rapidly changed in many strange and surreal ways, with events of all kinds suddenly stopping – including all Bongo’s Bingo parties. To counter this, toward the end of March Bongo’s Bingo creator Jonny Bongo and the team wanted to still keep everyone connected and have some much-needed fun and escapism.
And they had an idea.
In less than 24 manic hours, a brand-new Bongo’s Bingo concept was created – a live stream for the nation called Bongo’s Bingo Live from the Bungalow. A crazy combination channelling the energy and chaos of the shows, Jonny Bongo’s pub quiz, Jim’s Quiz, call-ins, dares, an all manner of random segments and celebrity guests joining in the fun via their webcams. A hastily made TV studio was created in Liverpool, with no-one having any experience of making a TV show. But that didn’t matter, and only added to the air of magic and energy suddenly swirling around.
If anyone could pull this off in a time of crisis, surely Bongo’s Bingo could?
Jonny Bongo initially presented with fellow Bongo’s hosts Rich Furness and Jimmy Sweets who brought his off-kilter quiz with Slutty Susie on dancing duties. Then when Jonny went home to look after his pregnant wife (having a Covid-19 test before leaving), Slutty Susie stepped in to host with Rich. The long-suffering Liam managed the shows and Technical Tom and his team brought it all to life on our Twitch profile. And over the course of 5 chaotic and crazy weeks, there were incredibly over 28m minutes viewed on the streaming website.
“I think it was a bit of a throwback to the heyday of 90’s live TV - very raw and unscripted and I think people could tell how much fun we were having doing it,” Jonny recalls of the first streams. Slutty Susie adds, “We are all just so comfortable in that environment, having a drink, being ourselves and having a laugh with our mates - what could possibly go wrong?! It felt like everyone at home under lockdown was doing the same and needed a release.”
Certainly Lenny - Liam’s dog - embraced this idea, doing a poo live to the nation. “For the most surreal moment,” Rich says, “Liz from Atomic Kitten watching and getting in touch asking can we send her the Donk remix of Atomic Kitten of Whole Again was pretty mad. But it has to be the Lenny incident really, doesn’t it?” Such notoriety might be unfair for the unsuspecting canine. Liam adds: “For me, it was insane with our first LadBible show and watching that reach way past 1 million views. Then lots of other huge brands getting in touch and working with Pretty Little Thing, plus hosting our show with WKD and Southern Comfort.”
“I loved every part of the show,” says Slutty Susie, “but the standouts for me were Jim’s Quiz (obviously), but I also enjoyed Donkbusters and loved getting on the couch and hosting the last four shows after Jonny had gone home.” “For me,” Rich adds, “watching the clips people sent in of them watching at home and playing along and doing the challenges was amazing.” Liam also reflects on how it all worked on screen. “When you’re there watching it all, just off camera, you really feel their chemistry. The fact the lads are already a close-knit group is great, too - each host brought something different to the show and the unsung heroes of the stream are the tech team.” Jonny agrees. “We are so lucky to have such an amazing tech team. When we came up with a new feature, the jingles that our sound engineer would produce were unreal – every show looked and sounded different and kept it all fresh.”
And to follow the government’s guidelines on social-distancing, the guys lived together under strict lockdown. No seeing loved ones or sneaking out for a romantic river-side rendezvous. “Living together was a little tough – it reminded me of my uni days, and I didn’t even go to uni,” Jonny laughs. So just before the lockdown started, they all moved in together – living in the same apartment 24/7. “It was basically just living with my mates for a few weeks having a laugh and dicking about,” says Rich. For Slutty Susie, it was generally great - but for one thorny issue. “Towards the end, the sound of the dog’s feet tapping around on the wooden floor was making me want to throw myself out of the window like, but apart from that we had a laugh.”
And of knowing hundreds of thousands of viewers were watching? “Weird! We obviously thrive off live audiences and interaction and this was just a totally new way of doing it. Knowing 50,000 plus people all around the country are watching you in their living rooms as a family and in groups is just mental,” says Rich. “It’s very, very, very strange,” Jonny recalls. “I tried not to keep track of the numbers ‘cause it would put me off.” And Slutty Susie laughs. “Obviously I had to reign myself in a little bit. I’d say viewers probably got to about 70% of Slutty Susie compared to what people see at the live shows. Literally…”
“The stream is taking a wee rest right now,” Jonny explains, “as the lads were all goosed after the first run. It is very intense for everyone to do, it’s so different to a venue show. So we hope it will be back soon, and are working on that right now. More news soon.”
If you missed out on the streams, don’t worry! You can watch them back on our Twitch profile here.