Dick And Dom Wanted To Play Bogies In Parliament But Worried They’d Be Arrested
Kids’ TV in the early noughties was a riotous whirlwind of colour and slime, consisting of bright, cheeky programmes that championed being loud and naughty, and putting the pursuit of fun above all else.
At the very top of the pile was Dick and Dom in da Bungalow, a show that allowed kids to give into their silliest instincts and that was filled to the brim with wildly imaginative games and the sort of gross-out bits that would leave parents in living rooms across Britain tutting.
March 11 will mark 15 years since the last-ever episode of Dick and Dom in da Bungalow, and we couldn’t let such an occasion slide by without finding out what exactly was in creamy muck muck.
‘It’s actually just Ambrosia custard,’ grinned Dick during a Zoom chat. ‘We tried at the beginning to have supermarket own-brand, but it just didn’t have the right consistency.’ I was surprised by this palatable answer, and do wonder if Rachel Stevens would have been okay with it had she known what it was.
Of course, with so many gooey, slimy substances oozing around on set during the show’s four-year run, one would expect a few fittingly-chaotic moments to arise while trying to keep it controlled within the orderly, adult world of the BBC studios.
We actually once clogged up the BBC drains with a mixture of hundreds and thousands, cream and Ambrosia custard. They actually backed-up and exploded!
Luckily the duo didn’t get a ticking off for this surreal plumbing disaster. ‘No one ever told us off, the whole time,’ explained Dom. ‘No one actually interfered with the show, or with us, because the bad boy antics that were going on – that was part of the charm of the show.’
The enthusiasm with which the pair remember their days on set is infectious, and I’m soon revelling in my own memories of giddy summer holiday mornings watching them both jump about the Crayola-bright studio doing the ‘pants dance’.
I was towards the older scale of would-be Bungalowheads when the show first kicked off in 2002. As an older sibling, however, I’d catch episodes of it even as I entered my ‘too cool for CBBC now’ pre-teen years and still found it could raise a giggle.
It felt like a truly anarchic show at the time, which resonated with that childhood longing to simply play games and run about all day, without the rules of home and school to rein you in. To be an adult working on the show, unsurprisingly, it sounds like it would have been great fun.
‘Probably the whole of Da Bungalow was hilarious’, remembers Dick. ‘We had probably the biggest laugh you could ever have in those years. It was just bonkers.’
As noted by Dom, there were plenty of programmes dotted around that era that had a similar feel to Da Bungalow, from TFI Friday to The Big Breakfast:
Lots of shows that had this wonderful burst of energy when you watched it. And it always felt – this was the art behind it – it all felt unproduced, it all felt ad-libbed.
I think that’s what we’re missing these days – it’s the feeling of unpredictability and not knowing what’s going to happen next.
This unpredictability came through the screen vividly, and many young viewers were keen to spend a day at the bungalow. I, of course, had to ask why one esteemed UNILAD colleague, who shall remain nameless, had his application rejected – a disappointment that still plagues him to this day.
‘There was no emails or filling in forms online,’ explained Dick, ‘it was literally done on a piece of paper. You got sent an application form and sent it back in, with some passport photos and your friends and all that, and your hobbies.’
Dick emphasised that there ‘must have been bags full’ of applications to be picked out at random – by one woman in an office – so any rejections shouldn’t be taken too personally.
Those kids lucky enough to be selected for the bungalow would arrive at about 7am to the studio. They were then ‘charged with Haribo and cans of Coke’ before it was time to go on, according to Dom, ‘so by the time 9am came around, they were absolutely buzzing.’
Of course, working with excitable, sugar-fuelled kids will have its inevitable ups and downs, and in January 2004 Dick and Dom met their match after welcoming a memorably-chaotic Bungalowhead.
There’s a famous clip out there where I end up hiding underneath the breakfast bar bit, just beneath the ‘Diddy Dick and Dom Cupboard’, and Dom ends up going into the airing cupboard or leaving the room or something.
Because one of these kids – I think his name was Raja – was being so, kind of, out there that we couldn’t control him anymore. So we just had to leave him to it.
‘Even taking away Bungalow Points didn’t work,’ added Dom, a punishment that would usually keep the more unruly Bungalowheads from toeing the line too much.
You can watch the infamous Raja episode – truly a teacher’s nightmare vision – for yourself below:
Since Da Bungalow, Dick and Dom have gone on to front various successful projects, but to a certain generation, there is just one word that comes to mind when they think of the pair.
Dick said, ‘As Dom said the other day in an interview, when one of us snuffs it, ‘Bogies’ will be trending on Twitter’. Despite not having played ‘Bogies’ for 15 years – aside from a few one-offs for charity – the duo still have their catchphrase shouted at them on the street ‘every day’.
They’ve never played ‘Bogies’ apart (‘It would be wrong!’), but during the course of the show they were tempted to play it in some pretty scandalous places.
According to Dick, they had at one point considered playing ‘Bogies’ in the Houses of Parliament, but felt that it would perhaps have been a step too far, remarking they ‘probably would have been arrested’.
Lamenting that they’d ‘missed out on an opportunity there’, Dom revealed they had also been tempted to play ‘Bogies’ at Buckingham Palace. He then casually dropped that they’d already been a couple of times, leading me to imagine The Crown/Da Bungalow crossover we never knew we needed.
You can watch a clip from one classic ‘Bogies’ stunt below:
‘Bogies’ is perhaps the most famous – and widely-quoted – Da Bungalow game, but it’s by no means the only one, with the show having boasted an exhaustive list of rude, gunge-filled and often quite outrageous games.
Considering what his own favourite game had been, Dick spoke fondly of the bizarrely-named ‘Eeny Meeny Macka Racka Rari Dominacka Shickeypoppa Dickywhoppa Om Pom Stick’.
Looking back on this particular game, Dick said:
We stuck stickers of our faces on the back of people, on the street. And if they noticed you then obviously you were out of the game.
There was a game we used to play in the loft of the bungalow called ‘Yum Yum Yack’. It was like Russian roulette with chocolate, and they were all nice apart from one that was filled with fish paste.
Of course, not all the games went down too well with some of the more squeamish adults tuning in at home alongside their kids, with many left repulsed by a stomach-churning game I personally recollect very clearly called ‘Make Dick Sick’.
You had to ring in with a horrible story to tell me. I was sat in a big chair with speakers by my ears and a mouthful of vegetable soup. And if your story made me feel horrible, then I’d throw up this vegetable soup all over the bungalow.
BBC governors actually said, ‘Can you remove that bit?’ That happened. And we got complaints in the Houses of Parliament as well for one of the games attached to the website where you hit a turtle’s head with a hammer. We got a fair few complaints.
Fortunately, no actual turtles were harmed, but the game sparked outrage all the same. The show was apparently the only children’s TV show in history to be mentioned in parliament, apart from Blue Peter for ‘something boring’.
All self-respecting kids TV shows of this era would offer a smorgasbord of covetable prize to be won – a treasure trove of Furbies, Heelys, and micro-scooters.
Da Bungalow scored highly on this front, rewarding champion Bungalowheads with princely gifts such as CD players and widescreen tellies. The duo agreed that the best prize they’d ever dished out on the show was a TV/VHS Player combo, the ultimate addition to a ’00s bedroom.
On the flip side, booby prizes were handed out to kids who didn’t fare so well. Dick recalled the ‘remote control cauliflower on wheel’, while Dom reminisced over the ‘snowman’s bits’ – ‘which was essentially a carrot, some coal and a scarf’.
After a quick nostalgia trip about how far back the chunky tellies of old used to go, Dick dropped the following bombshell:
It’s funny isn’t it, I think this lockdown has made people really want nostalgia more. They’re really hungry for it. The past makes them feel nice now, helps them get through this time.
So fingers crossed, watch this space, there might be some exciting news next year!
Now, with next year marking 20 years since the very first episode of Da Bungalow, my own nostalgic brain has been going haywire over this hint. But Dick and Dom have remained schtum.
As things currently stand, the pair, who have now been working together for an incredible 25 years, are getting through lockdown just like the rest of the UK – in separate houses rather than a shared bungalow.
The duo have been keeping in touch via Zoom chats, and have been missing DJ-ing at student gigs where they would sometimes spot former Bungalowheads, often with their own fond memories to share from their time on the show.
They’re also looking forward to getting back to hosting their podcast, Cash from Chaos, which is usually filmed before a live audience at a comedy club.
However, they have been keeping busy, getting involved with Currys PC World’s latest creative campaign ‘Do the Robot’, a competition aimed at keeping kids engaged in productive activities.
In order to be in with a shot of winning £5,000 worth of kids’ tech, entrants – who must be under the age of 13 – need to design a robot inspired by tech they might find at Currys PC World. Five runners-up will also receive £1,000 worth of tech vouchers.
Giving an example, Dick said:
I drew one and it had a big, flat-screen TV as a head, a games console as a chin and toaster as a belly or something, and vacuum cleaners as legs.
Kids are having so much screen time at the moment, and it’s no one’s fault – it’s not the kid’s fault, it’s not their parents’ fault, it’s just this period of our life.
But it you get a kid and sit them down with a load of junk and tell them to make a robot, I am telling you now, they will launch themselves at it.
With the duo having long championed the creativity of children, Dom reflected upon the talents of the kids asked to invent games to be recreated in the bungalow, remarking that ‘a kid can create a better game than any researcher could’.
Parents of budding robot designers can enter their kids’ designs here. Unfortunately, applications for Da Bungalow are currently closed.
Dick & Dom have partnered with Currys PC World for the #DoTheRobot competition, inviting children to create their dream tech-robot to be in with a chance of winning £5,000 of tech vouchers and have their design used in stores across the country. The competition is open until 9pm, 8th March. www.currys.co.uk/DotheRobo
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