The voice of Foxy, the Foxy Bingo mascot, is the bingo industry’s worst-kept secret. If you trawl through message boards and online communities, you’ll see a deluge of questions and speculations, but if you do even the most basic research, you’ll get the answer that you seek.
So, who is Foxy and who has played the character over the years? Well, there has really only been one voice, but we’ve also seen a massive Hollywood star don the famous furry suit.
And no, that is not a euphemism.
Paddy McGuinness, Dave Spikey, and the Early Days
Foxy first appeared on our TV screens in 2006, when a pink-suited, anthropomorphic fox stalked the streets looking like a sociopath on the prowl. At the very end of the 30-second advert, after he had crept his way into a salon to stalk his next victim, the uncanny canine finally opened his mouth and uttered a sentence that would shock modern Foxy Bingo fans.
And I don’t mean, “I’m going to eat her liver with some fava beans and a nice Chianti”, although that would have certainly fit the tone. His accent is the surprise, as it was distinctly lacking in its normal north-western twang.
By early 2008, Foxy had transformed into a fun-loving northerner. He still wore a pink/purple suit, and for some reason, he also carried a cane (a combination that gave him a distinctly pimpish vibe) but the transformation was complete and a legend was born.
Everyone knows Foxy. It’s true that he has somewhat of a Marmite reputation with the British public, especially after 15 years of hearing his voice everywhere from Jeremy Kyle to Coronation Street, but millions seem to love him.
They were also once convinced that he was voiced by the loveable Paddy McGuinness. In the years before Take me Out, Top Gear, Celebrity Juice, and a host of other TV programs, Paddy’s fame was limited to occasional appearances alongside Peter Kay.
It certainly seems like a role he could have adopted at the time and the accent was similar, but it wasn’t him. Some people even speculated that Dave Spikey, who appeared in Phoenix Nights alongside McGuinness, was behind the mask, but it wasn’t him, either.
If you run a Google search for “Voice of Foxy Bingo”, it’ll tell you that the famous Northern-Fox was played by a Hollywood superstar who was born in Wisconsin, USA, and while that is an absurd prospect, there is the smallest grain of truth to it.
Who is the Voice of Foxy?
Throughout much of Foxy Bingo’s history, the famous mascot has been voiced by Adam Catterall. If that name doesn’t ring a bell, it’s probably because you don’t listen to much radio or live in the North-West.
Adam Catterall’s voice is a regular feature on radio shows throughout the North-West, including Key 103 (now Hits Radio Manchester), Rock FM Preston, and Absolute Radio. He has also presented Talk Sport and featured on BBC Radio 1 and BT Sport.
He’s an award-winning and extremely talented radio presenter known for his inimitable northern-charm, and yet he’ll likely be best remembered for wearing a sweaty costume and sounding like Paddy McGuinness.
Such is the life of a celebrity.
If you want to hear what he sounds like away from the all-singing and all-dancing adverts, take a look at this talkSPORT video. The link begins at the 0.19 mark, where Catterall is discussing Jack Grealish.
What About Heather Graham?
So, where does Heather Graham fit into all of this? The ageless star of Austin Powers, Boogie Nights, and Lost in Space was “unveiled” as Foxy during a 2017 advert.
The advert opens with the costumed fox in the middle of a dance routine, before the camera cuts away and Foxy approaches the director, saying, “I can do Foxy’s voice but I’ve had a few ideas about his character too.”
Foxy removes his mask, and Heather Graham is revealed. We get a few more lines about how she wants to delve deeper into Foxy’s “pathos” and, ironically, it finishes with her saying, “What if he’s a sociopath?”.
In later adverts, we hear Adam Catterall’s voice dubbed over Heather Graham’s words as she spouts classics like, “Slap a fish”, “It’s worse than a trout farmer’s oven glove in there”, and “I’m just havin’ a whazz!”
It was a genius advertising campaign. Of course, she was never the one doing the voice or wearing the costume (that’s probably a redundant statement, but there are still people who think Cadbury’s trained a gorilla to play the drums, so it’s always worth clarifying these things) and Catterall was still involved, but it helped to cement the character in the public consciousness.
The Heather Graham adverts were part of a brand refresh that is said to have cost Foxy Bingo in excess of £10 million.
It seems to have worked, because as this YouGov poll shows, Foxy Bingo is one of the 15 most famous gambling brands in the United Kingdom, putting it 10 places ahead of the massive 888.
What Does the Future Hold?
Adam Catterall has been the voice of Foxy for a long time. He has clearly done a very good job and may remain in the role for many years to come. However, advertisers are always changing things up and there’s a good chance they’ll change the voice and even the character at some point in the future.
Some bright spark at an advertising agency will come up with a new idea, the public will hate it at first, and even the people who despised Foxy will likely complain. But eventually, everyone will get used to it, and Foxy Bingo will continue on its upward trajectory.
Alternatively, we’ll have the loveable Northern fox for many years to come. Personally, I’m hoping for the latter, because while the initial iterations were nightmare-inducing, modern Foxy has a certain charm and it always makes me smile to hear a CGI fox spouting northern slang.