Dick and Dom look back: ‘We had a game called Make Dick Sick.’ That didn’t go down well’ | Photography

Dick and Dom in 2000 and 2022
Dick (on left) and Dom in 2000 and 2022. Later photograph: Pål Hansen/The Guardian. Styling: Andie Redman. Grooming: Celine Nonon using Dermalogica and Kérastase. Archive image: BBC

Richard McCourt and Dominic Wood are the TV personalities best known for bringing anarchy and shrieks of “bogies!” to the BBC Saturday morning slot. With its blend of surreal, gross-out humour, their crowning glory, Dick and Dom in Da Bungalow, won them two Baftas, better viewing figures than Ant and Dec and the hearts of students, parents and school kids alike. Since its final series in 2006, they have worked on a number of shows together including Are You Smarter than a 10 Year Old? and Absolute Genius with Dick and Dom. To mark its 20th anniversary, they take Da Bungalow on an interactive tour this autumn.

Richard

Looking at my highlighted hair and prominent suntan, I’d say this picture was from a time just before Da Bungalow began. Before I met Dom, I was a professional tea boy for children’s shows on the BBC, and then I got a job presenting The Broom Cupboard. Dom was a magician doing bits on programs like The Friday Zone. Our first encounter was in the cafe at the BBC Television Centre: he was getting a cup of tea, I was getting a bacon roll and a coffee, and we just started chatting. We got on straight away because we were both teenagers wanting to break into this amazing but quite scary industry. I said to him, “We should go to the pub sometime.” And we did. Soon after that, the BBC boss saw that we were becoming mates and thought he should put us together on screen. We ended up sharing a flat, where we’d stay for the next five years. We’re very different people, but it was a relief to find we both liked a tidy home.

There were times during the filming of Da Bungalow where I can remember lying on the floor holding my sides because I was laughing so hard. Once we’d finished on a Saturday afternoon we’d go to the pub for a couple of beers and laugh about what just happened all over again. We haven’t laughed like that since. But despite the silliness of it all, Da Bungalow had its difficult moments. My mum was diagnosed with dementia during our last series, and it became tough to look after her at the same time as trying to be high-energy Dick on BBC One every weekend. It’s when I needed Dom the most – and he was so great at supporting me and stepping up when he knew I couldn’t handle the mental load.

These days, we’re on WhatsApp every single day. I talk with Dom more than I do my partner, and I reckon that’s the key to preserving a professional friendship. We lived together, went on holidays to Ibiza together and became a business together. Throughout it all, we’ve always been able to communicate and compromise.

Once we left kids’ TV, Dom and I started thinking of ways of reinventing ourselves. We always loved DJ-ing and had decks when we lived in our flatshare. So we began with some low-key shows, just to see what it was like. Six years later, we’re gigging all over the country.

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When we turn up, we normally see the crew wondering: “Dick and Dom DJ-ing? This is bizarre.” The audience think we’re about to blast out kids’ pop but then we play drum’n’bass, mashups and hard house. The crowd go nuts! And the fact that nobody expects it makes it even more brilliant.

This industry is quite tough, and to have someone to share the hard times with as well as the good ones is amazing. We’re doing the job we both wanted to do since we were kids. The fact I’ve been doing it for this long and with my best friend is incredible. I couldn’t ask for more.

Dominic

This was almost certainly from the basement of the BBC. It looks pre-Bungalow – I’ve got frosted tips, cords and a silver chain hanging from my pocket. Those boyband-ish styles were very much in fashion at the time.

From a very early age, both of us knew that we wanted to be on TV. I was watching telly one day when I was doing my A-levels, and Rich popped up as the new presenter in The Broom Cupboard. I remember thinking, “Well, that’s me stuffed – I’m not going to get a job there for a long time.” But then I managed to get a slot on a show on a Friday afternoon, and Rich and I met each other after that. He looked at me as if to say, “All right, mate?” and I looked at him as if to say, “All right, mate?” and we clicked straight away.

We were described by a boss of a radio station as the “slightly odd kids that hang out with each other”, which pretty much hit the nail on the head. We’d just turn up at fancy functions and hide behind each other, really. Richard was a very quiet, shy bloke – and still is. It’s why we work so well together. He’s methodical and takes time to think about things, whereas I’m “Go! Go! Go!” – firing on all cylinders. Having both of those superpowers is the key.

When the Da Bungalow took off, we just rode the wave. As soon as we started seeing the figures going up, we knew something interesting was happening. We got a lot of complaints – Terry Wogan on Points of View was having to read a lot of them out, and it was hilarious. There was one game we played – Puppies That Lick Their Own Vases – where we got a couple of vases covered in dog meat, and we got the kids to hold a dog each, and the dogs had to lick the dog meat off as fast as possible. It upset viewers. We had angry parents trying to get us taken off air. There was another game called Make Dick Sick – Rich spewing up vegetable soup when kids told gory stories to him. That went down badly with the complainers, too. But it was feeding the media, the media was feeding the viewing figures, and the viewing figures were fueling our passion for the product. It grew and grew, and before we knew it, we were standing there with a couple of Baftas in our hands.

As well as the good times, we’ve always been able to make sure that the person who’s having a bit of a tough time doesn’t have to just try to motor on. My dear father-in-law, one of my greatest mates, was very ill in hospital while we were in the middle of filming a show with a full studio audience and contestants. I told Rich: “I can’t do this – I’ve got to go to be with my family,” and he was just fantastic. He said: “Mate, concentrate on life, and I’ll host the show on my own. You do what you need to do.” It was a horrific time for everyone, but he did a brilliant job.

We’re both in relationships now (I’m married, with children), but often, if one of us has got an empty house, we’ll invite the other one around. We just sit and watch stupid stuff on YouTube or old dance music videos. Hang out together, talking nonsense. The friendship is far stronger than it’s ever been. But it doesn’t stop us from asking: “How much longer are we going to work in this ridiculous industry? Do we DJ drum’n’bass until we’re in our 60s?” I’ve no idea what’s next, but Rich will always remain my best mate in the world.

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