The VICE Interview: Dave Benson Phillips

We spoke to the self-professed Godfather of Gunge about the potential return of 'Get Your Own Back', and what it feels like when everyone thinks you're dead.
March 20, 2017, 11:23am

He's the self-identifying "Godfather of Gunge" who was pronounced dead in 2009. But he's not dead! Even if his old show, Get Your Own Back, is! Still, there's some good news for Dave Benson Phillips fans: everyone's favourite 90s entertainer, famed for his garish shirts and for squirting lots of little bastards with the green stuff, is trying to bring back the iconic show for a new generation.

We talked to him about being in love, travelling to space and what it feels like when the whole world thinks you're dead.


VICE: Hi Dave. You made a name out of gunging people on Get Your Own Back – ever thought of bringing it back?
Dave Benson Phillips: It's a case of watch this space. We're in talks and have had a number of false starts and questioning whether it would work in the age of the internet for young people. But at the end of the day, children will always have grown-ups they're not too keen on. It's just a case of how we do it. The only place it might not work is a podcast…

Okay, on with our VICE Interview questions. Worst phase in your life?
Living through the fake news of my death. That was pretty bad. It's all the stuff that it entails. Everything stopped. That's a bad thing for any human being. There is nothing way out of the ordinary about myself, and we still don't know why it happened. Everything stopped. People believed stuff.

"Once a month a bargain bucket's got to be done. It gets to the point now where I start to salivate when I see the face of the Colonel"

What have you done in your life that you most regret?
No, nothing at all. You do things for a reason, be it a right or wrong reason at the time. I'll look back when I'm a really old man, and if I've still got a memory and it's true about life flashing before your eyes at the end, I'll have a bloody good chuckle. I'd like to be less addicted to KFC. Once a month a bargain bucket's got to be done – and you haven't seen the size of the bucket. It gets to the point now where I start to salivate when I see the face of the Colonel. Maybe don't write that – the headline will be "Dave Benson Phillips has fantasies for the Colonel".

What's the closest you've ever come to having a stalker?
I've had stalkers. Some are very friendly – some aren't. You take them as you find them, really. I still get fan mail and emails, which are interesting, because they always want me to go round and gunge people. I get photographs from when I was younger and thinner, and people ask if I remember them. That makes me feel very happy that I've done something of note. I'm a big part of people's childhoods – but some people who had to sit through me find ways of taking it out on me. The other thing, of course, is when all the showbiz stuff stopped, people were asking me if I could come over and move their furniture, because one of the things we did was start a removals unit.

Dave Benson Phillips (Photo by Jake Turney)

Dave Benson Phillips (Photo by Jake Turney)

How many people have been in love with you?
How do we quantify this? If it's an intimate scale then not that many. I can count them on a finger. If you've ever seen photos of me or met me in the flesh you'll realise that is a question that's somewhat redundant.

How long would you last in space?
As long as I had enough space in space and there was enough food and water and good toilet roll – and a really good email system – I would love it. Some NASA person asked me what I think I'd miss and my answer was, "The ability to open a window." The NASA guys looked at me as if to say, "Who is this English lunatic?" Mrs Phillips would like to have me up in space for marriage quarantine.

"The 60s was an incredible time for culture – you had drugs, exploitation, exploration – and Sesame Street was on."

If you could live in any time which one would you pick?
I'm a sucker for time travel. I'd bounce around like Doctor Who to see how far we've come as people. Barbados in the 1960s would be an interesting era to visit, because I've only heard about it when my family used to sit down and talk about coming to England. The 60s was an incredible time and set things up for what we have now. There was change on the front for women, for race, for culture. You had the chance for working class people to do better than what they were given. You had drugs, exploitation, exploration – and Sesame Street was on.

How often do you lie when you're answering interview questions?
Not often, which is my biggest problem. Mrs Phillips tells me off if she overhears the interviews and tells me I shouldn't have said something. Then you have that awful moment of waiting for days to see what is printed.


What would your parents have preferred you to have chosen as a career?
The only thing I know is they didn't want me to do the career I do. They didn't look at me and think, 'He's going to be a lawyer, a doctor, a surgeon;' they just went, "We don't like what you're into because it's a precarious life, and let's face it: you're not attractive or a popular guy." My dad was always very honest – he would say, "It's character-building." We have family in banking and engineering, and I was the kid who went into the arts.

What film or TV show makes you cry?
The show that I'm into the most and would love to be a part of most would be Holby City. Sometimes those storylines get to me. Do I get emotional about TV? No, not really. Maybe I'm just a hardened person.

The problem with young people today is…
They don't know who I am. Look me up.


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