Snot what it seems

Every Saturday morning in the mid-noughties viewers entered a house filled with bogies and controversial jokes. Today no broadcaster will touch Dick and Dom, so they’re taking the show on the road

Hero image

It’s rare for Richard McCourt and Dominic Wood to go anywhere without a member of the public heraldically crying “Bogies!” at them. The pair, better known as Dick and Dom, have already heard their catchphrase a dozen times today – and it’s only lunchtime. It’s happened in supermarkets, bars, and even during a messy night at the NME Awards in 2015 when McCourt earned the accolade of most wasted celebrity at the ceremony – no mean feat at a show containing such caners as The Libertines.

“When I passed out drunk on the sofa, the way someone woke me up was by coming close to my face and shouting ‘Bogies!’” he remembers. “Every day it still happens but we’ve embraced it. We didn’t think it would be the thing that would catch on but it’s become bigger than us.”

Bogies, for those unaware, was the most popular slot of Dick and Dom in da Bungalow, featuring the titular kids’ TV presenters taking it in turns to say the puerile word at increasing volume in public spaces until one of them was too embarrassed to continue. Childish? Yes. But crucially, it was also very funny in a way that appealed to their prepubescent audience, their parents, and students alike.

Arriving in 2002, …da Bungalow was like a multicoloured vomit of anarchy across Saturday morning TV’s then-beige boringness, and netted the duo multiple Bafta Awards. With its “Creamy Muck Muck” sloshing and surreal gross-out humour, the game show felt like Vic Reeves and Bob Mortimer’s Shooting Stars meets Lord of the Flies and attracted a diverse audience that might usually turn their (hopefully snot-free) noses up at children’s television.

“We didn’t pretend we were squeaky-clean, pastel-colour-wearing children’s presenters,” says Wood. “People mistakenly think we were making a kids’ show that incidentally happened to make adults laugh, but it was probably the other way around! We made a show we found funny and the kids tapped into it.”

Despite their maturing ages – McCourt, the taller one, is 46 and Wood is 45 – Dick and Dom will forever be frozen as a generation’s favourite bogeymen. Speaking via Zoom from their homes in Cheshire and Surrey respectively, they retain a pleasing streak of juvenilia about them as they enthusiastically discuss the 25th anniversary interactive stage tour of …da Bungalow, giving fans the chance to become Bungalow Heads and take part in classic games including Musical Splatues, Fairly Hairy Fizzogs  and – yes, warm up that larynx now! – Bogies!

“For people between the ages of 25 and 35, which is the audience it’s aimed at, everything got heavy quickly in the past few years and I just think we need to have a laugh and regress back to a happier time,” says Wood about fans maybe now struggling to afford a mortgage on their own da bungalows.

“People might have had a beer so it could be rowdier than the TV show,” he adds. “The joy of doing it onstage is we’re not living in fear of being censored because no channel would allow the chaos of da Bungalow to happen now.”

Still, it’s difficult to see how it could be more raucous than the noughties TV show, which frequently proved controversial. In 2005, Wood was criticised by Ofcom for wearing a T-shirt on air emblazoned with the innuendo “Morning Wood”, while the BBC received 40 complaints for a sketch involving a pregnant McCourt going into labour in the “Muck-ernity Ward”, as a barrage of plastic babies shot out of him like champagne corks, and custard afterbirth sprayed everywhere.

Bizarrely, this skit might have become even more memorable had their original idea gone ahead, as Wood reveals that the plan was for McCourt to give birth to Michael Winner, the late film director.

“We wanted to dress him up in a nappy to be born between Richard’s legs and shout his catchphrase ‘Calm down, dear!’” he says.

Winner sat in the make-up chair witnessing the show going out live, the colour draining from his face. “He’d obviously never watched it before, was horrified, and stormed off in a flurry of expletives,” recalls McCourt.

S Club 7 singer Rachel Stevens fled da Bungalow live on air, refusing to be doused in gloop, while Bullseye host Jim Bowen was apoplectic that his suit, which he was set to wear to a wedding later that day, was Jackson Pollocked with milkshake. Questions were even raised in parliament, with a Conservative MP asking “Why should the licence fee payer be paying for such lavatorial content?”, presumably as half of the backbenchers stifled the urge to shout “Bogies!” in response.

Their bosses were secretly pleased by the furore. “They knew something was happening culturally with the programme and they thought it was a good thing because it propelled us to another level and the press was all over it,” reflects McCourt.

In the Commons, the segment Make Dick Sick, where callers regaled McCourt with gory stories in order to make him spew vegetable soup, was singled out for particular condemnation. “It was always harmless fun,” says Wood. “We did have another game called What A Sweaty Flap which was unbelievable. We would never get away with that stuff now because we would be targeted with burning torches and pitchforks and people would throw you in the bin.”

Indeed, both feel that …da Bungalow wouldn’t be allowed to launch in today’s risk-averse climate. “We’d be cancelled,” sighs Wood. “It’s a shame because everyone loves a bit of naughty, irreverent behaviour. Everyone is so scared of making a false move that everything’s become sanitised now.”

They share a 27-year friendship of continuous laughter. Sheffield-born McCourt had worked in hospital radio from the age of 12 before landing a job as a runner in children’s TV, working his way up to a presenting role. Wood had been working as a magician in his home city of Exeter before graduating to the Broom Cupboard.

Meeting in the BBC canteen, they became mates and lived together, before a BBC commissioner noticed their chemistry. Launching the digital CBBC channel in 2002 and in desperate need of content, the BBC gave the pair carte blanche to do what they wanted – and the rest has gone down in Bungalore. Dick and Dom in da Bunglow was a playground word-of-mouth success, before transferring to BBC1, where it regularly beat ITV competitor SM:TV in the ratings.

Their iron-clad friendship has helped them through challenging times. Although you couldn’t tell from his joyous resting gurn face and slapstick, throughout the last two series of …da Bungalow, McCourt was struggling with his mother dying before his eyes.

“I was losing my mum at the time and she had dementia and it was a really difficult period for our family. The last thing I often wanted to do was be titting around on a Saturday morning, but being a double act helped because having your mate there means it’s a lot easier to handle.”

When …da Bungalow closed its doors in 2006, they did other high-profile projects – including stints on Radio 1 and helming the prime-time Sky One quiz Are You Smarter Than A 10 Year Old? – and have latterly reinvented themselves as sought-after DJs on the festival circuit, spinning dance and drum ’n’ bass sets.

In the intervening years however, the Bungalow Heads have grown up. Kids’ TV presenters occupy a unique position in people’s memories – somewhere between a childhood best friend and a portal to a more carefree time – so when McCourt and Wood returned to the NME Awards in 2022 to present an award to Oxford indie stalwarts Foals, they were met by a heroes’ welcome, with an impromptu game of “Bogeys!” breaking out among attendees including The 1975’s Matty Healy and The Cure’s Robert Smith.

“The place went absolutely berserk,” boggles Wood, before reeling off a list of notable fans that encompasses singer-songwriter Tom Grennan, grime gourmet Big Zuu, McCourt’s favourite band, Dublin alt-rockers Fontaines DC, and Ed Sheeran. The latter asked to meet them after a show.

“You forget these people grew up with us and no matter how mega-famous they are, they revert back to their 10-year-old selves when they meet you,” says McCourt.

Both have children of their own now, and find the television aimed at the age group too anodyne, with …da Bungalow’s spiritual successors more likely to be found in the likes of KSI and The Sidemen’s YouTube pranks.

“There’s nothing like us on TV now,” says McCourt. “Social media is where you go for that kind of stuff – kids don’t watch TV.”

Since controllers have so far passed on the idea of a …da Bungalow reunion, they’re viewing this tour as its final hurrah.

“When we die it won’t be Dick and Dom trending,” concedes McCourt cheerfully. “It’ll be #Bogies!”

Dick and Dom In Da Bungalow Live is at St George’s Hall, Bradford, 29 March, Buxton Opera House, 1 April, the Lowry, Salford, 2 April, and O2 Academy, Sheffield, 12 April

If you liked this article, we think you’ll enjoy these:

Interact: Responses to Snot what it seems

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published.