Rowans Tenpin Bowl – and karaoke bar, and arcade, and pool corridor, and nightclub – in north London has plenty of guidelines.
A poster within the window of the entrance door lists 21 of them. Quantity six: “These displaying a foul angle is not going to be allowed to enter.” Quantity 20: “Sleeveless or string vests usually are not permitted at any time.”
As Dick and Dom, Richard McCourt and Dominic Wooden spent the flip of the millennium launching gunge and custard throughout something you can name “guidelines” – successful two Baftas for his or her kids’s Saturday morning sequence Dick and Dom in da Bungalow.
Once we meet for a number of frames of a Monday lunchtime within the neon-lit, sort-of-Americana themed bar, 20 years on from the beginning of the in da Bungalow years, issues are fortunately extra sedate. McCourt excuses himself to kind his hair out within the bathrooms; Wooden grabs some lunch.
They’re right here to a) bowl and b) mirror on 20 years of friendship, childishness and rising up collectively within the highlight. They met as youngsters within the canteen at BBC Tv Centre on the flip of the millennium, each too younger to have ever had correct jobs earlier than dashing to London to attempt to make it in kids’s TV. Wooden had been a jobbing magician in Devon, entertaining birthday events and weddings or busking on the street. McCourt had labored on the Disney Retailer in Sheffield.
If Ant and Dec on SMTV:Reside have been the closest factor early noughties Saturday morning TV needed to a Morecambe and Clever, Dick and Dom have been its Vic and Bob. It’s fairly laborious to explain precisely what the format was: six kids performed video games together with Make Dick Sick, during which the youngsters informed gory or gross tales in an try to make McCourt “vomit” vegetable soup in every single place, and Puppies That Lick Their Personal Vases, the place every contestant tried to verify their pet licked pet food off a vase quickest.
Factors got, factors have been taken away, after which each present ended with your complete set coated in custard. One sequence finale noticed McCourt begin the present pregnant, and finish it firing out dozens of infants and torrents of custard and flying away in a scorching air balloon.
For those who watch clips of their exhibits now, the enchantment is apparent. Kids beloved the sense that just about something may occur, and that in making it up as they went alongside Dick and Dom beloved taking part in as a lot as they did. Their schtick was manic. Scripts have been regularly the lightest of pencil outlines: one section the pair recall merely mentioned “Cow provides delivery”.
“We nonetheless knew that that was simply humorous. It wasn’t crossing the boundary too laborious,” says McCourt. “I believe all of us knew the place we may go.”
Maybe their greatest contribution to popular culture was “Bogies”. Wooden and McCourt went to locations the place silence and discretion have been paramount – an artwork gallery, a restaurant, a yoga session in Primrose Hill – and took it in turns to say “bogies” at rising quantity till they have been screaming the phrase, to the bafflement and rising fury of individuals round them.
The perfect ones have been essentially the most painful, Wooden remembers – one at a manufacturing of Peter Pan in Exeter was “completely horrific”. “And we’re sat there, cameras are going through us. You suppose, ‘Shit, I can’t get out of this now. I can’t get out. I’m trapped.’ And so that you’ve acquired no selection however to play the sport. And I bear in mind pondering, ‘Oh, these poor actors’.”
Bogies was completely in every single place. They acquired letters from funeral administrators admitting to taking part in the sport whereas on the job. “So unsuitable,” says McCourt, as Wooden sniggers. “Nothing to do with us.”
All this didn’t go down properly with all people. McCourt has an image of 1 significantly good grievance letter on his telephone which he exhibits me, grinning. It’s handwritten in blue ink. “Pricey sirs,” it opens, “what in heaven’s identify are the powers that be on the BBC doing permitting such a revolting, humiliating, gungy, stomach-churning program resembling this?”
Many years later, Dick and Dom are about to move out on a UK tour. It was initially booked for 2022, however demand was such that it was expanded and shifted to this yr. Wooden and McCourt relay this excitedly, their eyebrows raised in delicate disbelief. The present will return them to da Bungalow, although this time with six adults taking the brunt of the “creamy muck-muck”.
“It’s the TV present, principally, on stage,” says McCourt, now 46. “Twenty-year anniversary, we thought, why not? Let’s do it one final time.”
“There’s gonna be a specific amount of expectation,” says Wooden (45, carrying a t-shirt that claims “TEAM TOFU” – he’s not a vegan – and speaking by means of a Pret sandwich). Doing a reside model of in da Bungalow seems like the easiest way to take it ahead, and recapture one thing of the giddy weirdness which its viewers bear in mind feeling the primary time round. “And it’s gonna be completely nuts.”
“We’re going to be reliving it and that’s gonna be a very particular second as a result of, you realize, it doesn’t matter what else we’ve carried out with our profession…” He breaks off for a second to have a good time McCourt sprucing off a spare. “…the Bungalow will at all times be the head of our profession. It’ll be what everybody is aware of us for.”
Dick and Dom clicked nearly instantly – once they first met, Wooden was grabbing a cup of tea, McCourt a espresso and bacon sandwich. Their boss at Radio 1 as soon as informed them that he’d usually see them chatting away, on their very own, comfortable in their very own world, “like the 2 misfits of the college”.
Their bond was apparent, so that they have been put collectively as a duo. Quickly they have been inseparable. On the suggestion of high-ups on the BBC, and to assist them bond extra shortly, they moved right into a basement flat in Ealing simply off the Hanger Lane gyratory, with eight lanes of visitors rumbling previous. It was vigorous. Wooden and McCourt’s favorite pastime was training their DJing, significantly drum ‘n’ bass and home.
“We’d love nothing greater than to have events and get everybody again,” Wooden says. These events turned legendary, although by no means debauched. One interviewer was satisfied there have been darkish depths to be plumbed from the get together years, however got here up empty-handed.
“He saved making an attempt to get stuff out of us that didn’t exist,” says Wooden, shaking his head. “‘So did you do medicine?’ and all this. We have been like, ‘No?’”
Even once they fled the concrete and fumes and moved to Ealing correct, it was into flats in the identical constructing. “Dom lived within the entrance flat and I lived within the again, so we have been nonetheless dwelling collectively in a approach,” says McCourt.
Dick and Dom in da Bungalow began as a title looking for a present to hold it on. The pair had confirmed that they had one thing sparky collectively whereas doing hyperlinks on Kids’s BBC’s morning programme The Broom Cabinet, so in 2002 they have been requested to do a three-hour Saturday morning present on the brand new standalone digital channel CBBC. Jokingly, they named it after Ali G Indahouse. It was an enormous step up.
The viewers was tiny to start with. “However every week it went from, like, 5,000 to 10,000 and it acquired as much as [around] 300,000,” says McCourt. “They usually [CBBC] have been like, oh proper, okay. One thing’s occurring right here.”
It turned a success, not simply with the first college children it was aimed toward, however with older kids and college students who beloved its very real sense of freewheeling chaos. “Our lives in a short time went from not quite a bit occurring to a hell of quite a bit occurring,” Wooden says. “It even acquired to the purpose the place our mother and father’ homes have been being doorstep by bloody tabloids,” says McCourt. In da Bungalow transferred to BBC One in 2003, and ran for 3 extra years of just about fully uncontrolled mayhem.
They at all times beloved working with kids. “There’s no cynicism concerned with them,” says Wooden. They’re simply openhearted. We used to talk to them as equals as properly – we wouldn’t condescend them and say, ‘Did you have got a pleasant vacation? Are you trying ahead to Christmas?’” As an alternative they might develop into huge children themselves, encouraging and rewarding silliness with pints of custard.
In 2006, after taking part in Bogies 250 occasions, they determined it was time to maneuver on. Stints at Radio 1 and internet hosting Are You Smarter Than A ten-Yr-Outdated? adopted, in addition to occasional returns to CBBC. They’re sanguine in regards to the in da Bungalow days being their peak, they usually’re fiercely pleased with it. However they do have a lingering feeling that they weren’t cherished on the BBC.
“The BBC won’t ever put it again on, ever,” says Wooden. “It’s a disgrace that it wasn’t given the credit score that it ought to have gotten,” says Wooden. “It’s nearly like a grimy phrase actually, like they’d wish to suppose it by no means occurred.”
McCourt agrees. It’s unlikely, he thinks, that one thing as unusual may very well be made in the present day. “I believe we’re a bit – somewhat bit – in that cancel tradition factor, that type of, ‘oh no, they have been the naughty boys’. We have been saying to somebody the opposite day what we did, it wasn’t unhealthy – simply silly, simply foolish.”
Within the years since, although, the present’s legend has grown. They’re anarchic older brothers not only for the youngsters who watched them 20 years in the past, however the ones discovering their previous clips on TikTok. Ed Sheeran, Foals and Fontaines DC have all informed Wooden and McCourt of their love for the present, and their status has been burnished additional by their splenetic Twitter account.
It says one thing in regards to the insanity of the final yr that @dickndom turned the voice of purpose on vitality corporations making document earnings (“Pricks!”) and the Conservative authorities, particularly within the canine days of Liz Truss’s tenure (“#GeneralElectionNow you twisted fucks”).
It’s apparent they males are nonetheless very shut. After they reply questions they choose up one another’s sentences, run with them after which let the opposite choose them up. It even appears – for a second – that they’ve one way or the other managed to attain the very same variety of factors, however a late strike sees Wooden take the win.
Each are fathers now (Wooden’s two boys are of their teenagers, and McCall’s daughter is 22 months) however they see one another recurrently for his or her DJing gigs, and sometimes keep at every others’ homes. What, I ask Wooden, are they most trying ahead to in regards to the tour? With out hesitating, he says: “Being collectively.”
Over a drink (espresso for McCourt, a blackcurrant squash and membership soda for Wooden) we discuss in regards to the varied furores which their antics sometimes introduced. The delivery sketch resulted in complaints to Ofcom, and Wooden acquired a telling-off for presenting whereas carrying a t-shirt studying “Morning Wooden”.
I learn them the phrases of Peter Luff, MP for Mid Worcestershire, who in 2005, within the Home of Commons, criticised video games together with Pants Dancers within the Corridor of Fame and Make Dick Sick. “Is that actually the stuff of public service broadcasting?” he requested.
The absurdity of the entire thing – and the additional publicity from Luff’s assertion – nonetheless tickles them. “That’s sensible. It’s nearly like he was employed by the BBC to face there and browse that out,” says Wooden, as McCourt cackles. “That’s so ridiculous.”
On their approach out of Rowans they’re stopped by two extra younger individuals for photos, considered one of them solely 18. They’re very gracious with followers, however they do appear bewildered by fairly what number of generations know them. There’s clearly nonetheless plenty of love on the market for Dick and Dom. However it will, they suppose, be the final time they return to da Bungalow.
Dick and Dom by no means turned mild leisure juggernauts. However they wouldn’t do something in another way – even when they’ve at all times felt like individuals need them to apologise for one thing.
“There was not one factor that occurred that didn’t add to it making it the success it was,” says Wooden. “If I hadn’t worn that t-shirt or we hadn’t given delivery a great deal of infants coated in custard, then it wouldn’t have been that present. Why would we apologise?”
‘Dick and Dom in da Bungalow Reside’ is touring from 11 March to 14 Could, dickndom.co.uk