By Erin Botten
Initially starting off as a buffer between weekend cartoons, Dick and Dom became one of the most recognisable double acts on children’s TV. With a career spanning 20 years, ranging from presenting, obstacle courses, and medieval dramas, to BoomTown, taking the theatre stage is naturally the next step for Britain’s beloved ‘kings of chaos’.
Continuing from their tour last Autumn, Dick and Dom continue their 20th-anniversary tour. After a 16-year hiatus, In Da Bungalow returns in the form of a live interactive show across the UK!
Spend the evening reliving your childhood (or fulfilling a childhood dream) by having the chance to appear as a Da Bungalow game contestant. With the same anarchy, carnage, mess and enthusiasm as 20 years ago, ‘Dick & Dom in Da Bungalow Live‘ is set to be the nostalgic highlight of 2023. So, in the run-up to their great return, I sat down with Dick and Dom to get a behind-the-scenes look at the infamous double act.
The main question that was on my mind was, how did they get here? How did they, two 20-something guys, crack into the BBC to ultimately have a slew of successful TV shows throughout the 2000s and 2o10s?
As you’d expect: coffee runners, it seems and mingling. Lots and lots of mingling in the pub. Little has changed regarding media opportunities for budding hopefuls looking to work their way into the BBC. Both presenters worked odd jobs relating to journalism. For Dick, he became a resident at Sheffield’s hospital radio station, getting to grips with all things tech. For Dom, he used his interests as a magician to work his way onto BBC Breakfast at his local TV station in Exeter.
“Start at the very bottom, like we did,” Dick states. “[Being a coffee runner is] a great foundation to start getting into the business. Just get your foot in the door, and work your way up slowly.”
What has changed however is the power of social media, which the pair endlessly praise. “When we started our destiny was in the lap of the gods. It was all down to whether someone in a chair in the BBC wanted us or not,” Dom revealed, with media success heavily relying on the opinion of the higher-ups.
“Now your destiny is down to you. Work hard, do something you enjoy and rake in the money. Make your own future.”
“One of my the biggest, most proud moments I can ever have was when I was living at home at 18 years old, the phone landline and someone offered me my first job at the BBC,” Dom recalls, grateful that someone took a chance on him and his ambitions.
“I’m a couple of years older than Dom,” snips Dick. “I didn’t even get a phone call. I got an actual letter through the post!”
Eventually, the pair worked their way to receiving a role at the BBC and moved to London. And, like most British media stars in the early 00s, the pair shared a flat together, with their humorous chemistry eventually resulting in Dick and Dom in Da Bungalow.
Dick explains the name came first, with the ideas soon trickling behind.
“[The success of the show] happened organically, and over the weeks we went from 5000 to 50,000 viewers to 250,000 viewers.”
Viewers were lapping up the carnage, the gunge, and the chaos Da Bungalow brought to their screens. Sure, it’s fun to watch cartoons, but wouldn’t you rather watch two grown men prance around Asda screaming ‘bogies’, confuse pensioners on the street in various costumes, and watch as the hosts struggle to conceal their tears of laughter? It’s everything SNL wants and fails to be: loosely scripted comedy that works on anyone.
In the end, the BBC had to go, “Okay, well this is very popular. We’ll move this to BBC One Saturday mornings now.”
Within a couple of weeks, Da Bungalow grew from a tv buffer to a prime-time programme on the BBC’s most popular channel. Times had changed since the 90s when Saturday mornings were filled with popstars and celebrities sitting plainly on interview sofas followed by a five-minute performance. As much as kids may have idolised these figures, the same old show every Saturday was growing dull.
Dick confirms this, hinting at why Da Bungalow quickly gained notoriety amounts Britain’s youth: “The bungalow just ripped all that apart and kind of took it back to its roots: kids just having a laugh. That’s what we set out to do. Just anarchy, chaos, and kids having good fun.”
Yet, despite the success In Da Bungalow brought, the ‘big bosses’ of the BBC were doubtful. When asked about their favourite episode, it was clear their years of hard work are what Dick and Dom remember the most.
“The one that stands out the most was our first one on BBC One. That’s the one we will remember more than anything. The nerves, I mean, I hardly slept the night,” Dom recalls, feeling the weight of the BBC’s “old-school” producers clinging to the routine of traditional kids’ tv.
“We were getting to do something [different], you so we had a lot of people gunning for us wanting it to fail to prove a point that this kind of thing wouldn’t work. So we have a lot riding on us and we had a lot to prove.”
Dick reaffirms this fear, not forgetting this was the first big shot both presenters had received. To say there was a lot riding on De Bungalow‘s debut is an understatement for two lads fresh to the BBC. “It was a pinnacle moment. Not only for Saturday mornings on BBC One but also for our career because it kind of put us on the map. You know, we became household names because of Da Bungalow. It was getting millions of viewers and beating ITV!”
In the height of its success, Dick and Dom in Da Bungalow came to an end in 2006 to the surprise of the BBC and its audiences.
“No one wanted it to end apart from me and Rich and the producers,” explained Dom. “The BBC wanted it to carry on, the audience wanted to carry on; all the people that worked on the show on carry on.”
So why did it end, why stop the show? Well, it turns out that ending the show that made Dick and Dom a household name would in fact only further their careers. “We just thought we can either carry on until it fizzled out. Or, end now. It was a very good feeling doing something that’s kind of against what you think you should be doing. Always trust your gut,” reaffirmed Dom.
Jump forward a decade or two and things have definitely changed for the pair. Success continued on the small screen with various Dick and Dom spinoffs (all with a slight medieval twist…) with The Legend of Dick and Dom and Splatalot being the most memorable. Yet, what audiences did see coming was a hobby Dick and Dom had been privately pursuing for years: DJing.
“How did that come about? Because I was trying to work out how you go from kids TV to then doing Boomtown and freshers events, it’s quite a big jump.” I ask, recalling my first major fresher’s event being Dick and Dom’s DJ set in Academy Two.
“We have to keep reinventing, not just our humour, but our career,” Dick explains, implying that’s how the 00s legends have lasted so long.
“When we were in a house share together, one of our hobbies was DJing at home. We had vinyl decks back in the day, we used to just do it as a hobby. We’ve moved on and gotten older, and thought, “You know what, we should really move that DJing into a more professional kind of way of working.” So that’s kind of what we do now!”
Dom jumps in saying, “People realise that we don’t just stand there and put in a USB and press play. We actually do DJ. We do know a lot about music: dance, drum and bass, house – music is our first love. It’s a real passion.”
The duo love DJing so much, it’s slowly manifesting its way into their retirement plan: ‘Da Bungalow Bar’ in Ibiza.
“We would love to open a bar, so we can just go out there, get coffee, relax, and just DJ every single night,” Dom explains, with Dick laughing in the background.
Perhaps, Love Island would be playing every night too, with Dick revealing later in the interview, “Love Island is my secret passion actually. It’s one of those [shows] I like watching randomly.”
Branching out and reinventing themselves was one of the strongest moves the pair made, adapting themselves to shift with the times and maintain audience engagement. This is especially considering the shutdown of CBBC – BBC’s kid’s network hosting shows like The Story of Tracy Beaker, Arthur, Trapped and Horrible Histories.
Since its launch in the 00s and throughout the 2010s, CBBC was a permanent staple in British childhoods. Yet, by the start of the 2020s, ratings were starting to plummet.
“It’s actually something that should have after maybe a few years ago,” Dom acknowledges, explaining that “digital platforms have been surging ahead.” Times have changed, and TV broadcasting just doesn’t meet consumer demands anymore.
Nothing’s changed it seems because the pair are still the friendly double act that graced our childhood screens.
“It’s amazing that those kids, that were eight then and now 18-30, they remember us and still enjoy what we do,” reminisces Dick, humbled that Da Bungalow has had such an impact on British childhood culture.
Dom agrees, saying, “It’s been nearly three generations of kids that watched us and I think you know, stuff from your childhood lasts with you forever, especially TV.”
Overall not only can these two present, DJ and indulge in Love Island, but it’s fair to say Dick and Dom know how to put on a show. So, get out of bed, throw on some heals and pack a few tissues – it’s time for Dick and Dom in Da Bungalow!
You can catch ‘Dick and Dom in Da Bungalow Live’ at The Lowry in Salford on April 2. For more dates and tickets, click here.
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