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Bogies! Dick and Dom Remember Life in Da Bungalow

We spoke to the iconic kids' TV presenters about the "bogies" era.

by Michael Segalov; photos by Grey Hutton
19 December 2019, 9:15am

Dick (top) and Dom., 2019

On their trip to meet me at the VICE office, Dick and Dom reckon members of the public yelled "bogies" in their general direction at least 15 times.

"It's really sweet actually," says Dom, when I ask if they still enjoy talking about Dick & Dom in Da Bungalow, the show on which that catchphrase was coined. "We've done a whole lot of stuff over our 23 years in the business, but clearly that period of our lives and career really affected people in a very positive way. 'You were my childhood,' is a phrase we get a lot. It's nice to know we had an effect."

For those unfamiliar with their magnum opus – a children's TV show from the early-2000s – both their enduring fame and its cult status might come as something of a surprise. But for those of us blessed to have grown up in their presence, the duo were what we looked forward to every weekend morning. According to my rough calculations (the BBC scheduling department couldn't do the maths), the pair fronted 254 episodes of anarchic children's television, with Dick and Dom in Da Bungalow giving us 34,080 hours of bizarre games, ridiculous competitions and custard pies.

In 2002, the CBBC digital channel was launching and children's TV needed programming for more than a couple of hours at a time. Handed a blank piece of paper and told to fill it with ideas, the boys were given free rein to do whatever they could think of. A wacky gameshow for kids was the result, including segments where the pair would put oversized stickers on the backs of unsuspecting pensioners or give birth to plastic babies covered in custard.

"Ali G was big at this point, and we were already presenting the links in between cartoons," says Dom. "The execs said why not call it 'Dick and Dom in Da House'? Then they said, 'No, let's make it smaller – a bungalow: Dick and Dom in Da Bungalow.' That’s literally how it started."

"The first ever episode only had about 100 viewers," Dom continues, "but we were enjoying ourselves so much that it must have come through. It's like a viral tweet – word got around the playground. Within a couple of months, we were at 250,000. It kept growing, we moved to BBC1."

"Before we started on Saturday mornings," Dick chimes in, "children's TV was shiny games and bands promoting their albums – it was nice. Ours was disgusting, and that's because it was made for kids to enjoy, and not their parents."

"Our producer instilled it in us to have no fear, not to worry," says Dom. "If you were bothered, the games just wouldn't work as well – you had to be fearless."

dick and dom 2019
Dick and Dom, 2019.

At the time, the duo were in their early twenties – a period when, for most of us, image means everything and we're desperate to be taken seriously by our colleagues and peers. They might have had huge grins on their faces when they appeared on our TV screens, but were these forced? They must have felt a deep sense of despair as they played games with children while trying to sweat out their Friday night hangover?

"We honestly couldn't wait to get to the studio," says Dom. "All our mates worked on the show, we were mates together. You couldn't wait to get to the studio – it was so exciting when the cab pulled up at 5AM." Dick nods his head in agreement: "Jobs are few and far between, breaks are hard in this industry, and we were lucky. That show was the time of our lives."

I've printed out a list of all the mad games the pair played on the show, to see if they can remember what each involved – and it's clear from how they respond that it really was a life highlight. They grapple with "Ferrity Trousers", "Pumpy Rumpy" and "Push Plop Protein" with genuine joy.

As we talk about the height of their fame – the invitations onto chat shows, being dragged in the Daily Mail and even Parliament, for the "lavatorial" content of their show – that joy continues. "We had a don't care attitude," says Dick, Dom nodding in agreement. "Our lifestyle was a bit rock-and-roll at the time: we partied hard and worked hard, young and having fun."

1576674650480-Screen-Shot-2019-12-18-at-130851
Dick and Dom in the 'Bungalow' credits. Screenshot: CBBC

Okay, so they enjoyed the experience. But still, I ask, they must now wish the Bungalow wasn't the thing that defined their careers – their legacy?

"Well," says Dick, "it's our 'Mr Brightside' – it's the thing you do that everyone wants. Whatever else we do, it'll never be that. People will never be 100 percent happy. That does also mean you become a victim of your own success."

Today, they say, they attract more attention than ever out in public. "Without social media, people didn't have as much a reason to stop you," says Dom. "They only want a selfie and to say hello. You see tweets where people say they've met us and we're quite boring. We don't know what people expect. We aren't going to queue up for a ticket for the central line, throwing custard pies."

There have been moments in their careers where they've tried to do something different and it's faltered because of this expectation. "Projects have been stopped because they just say, 'You're the guys who stood in a small house and yelled bogies,'" says Dick. "It’s hard for a lot of people to move on from it, when we know we can do other things. We wouldn't get the Newsnight gig, that's for sure."

While Da Bungalow might have been more hindrance than help in some situations, I sense no frustration as they talk about other opportunities that have followed: the radio gigs, podcasts and Edinburgh Fringe shows; the novelty DJ sets and appearances on TV shows like Celebrity Come Dine With Me, out this week. The pair are currently developing a show with the creator of Celebrity Juice.

dick and dom

Going into our interview, I expected to find Dick and Dom as tortured creative souls who wish people would stop banging on about their early hits and engage with their new experimental material. But the pair seem happy to just still be working in the entertainment business, and that's all thanks to Da Bungalow. As we start to say goodbye, I wonder if there's a lesson there, about being grateful for all our opportunities and embracing what life sends our way, without any regret.

But my moment of profundity is interrupted when a guy walks past the table we're sitting at and yells "bogies" in our direction. In unison, Dick and Dom give him a thumbs-up and a smile.

'Celebrity Christmas Come Dine With Me' airs weekdays from the 16th of December at 7.30PM on E4.

@MikeSegalov

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