Like fish and chips, Ant and Dec or strawberries and cream, comedians Dick and Dom go together like . . . well, you get the picture.
The comedy duo has been helping kids get up to well-meaning mischief for almost two decades with their bonkers brand of daft comedy. Best known for their double Bafta award-winning show Dick and Dom in da Bungalow, Richard McCourt, 38, and Dominic Wood, 37, have been the most recognisable ‘real people’ in the animation-dominated world of children’s TV for years.
Despite having left Da Bungalow in 2006, the duo has remained steady regulars in kids entertainment. They’re currently filming the fourth series of CBBC show Absolute Genius (another Bafta winner, no less), preparing to take to the road in their latest live stage show Dick V Dom and getting ready for the world’s biggest panto.
A clip from Dick and Dom's latest CBBC show, Absolute Genius:
They’re no strangers to treading the boards, having starred in the West End as King Arthur and Patsy in Monty Python’s Spamalot. It’s a very exciting time for the troublesome two.
We meet the pair at a whimsically styled kitchen table in the Barclaycard Arena, where they are set to star in Cinderella as Prince Charming and Dandini for five magical dates in December. Naturally they are sat in order, with Dick on the left and Dom on the right. We couldn’t expect anything less, and have to ask whether it’s deliberate. “It’s an old school thing we learnt when we were starting out as a double act,” says Dick. “You research other pairs from over the years. All double acts have done that over time. Laurel and Hardy, Ant and Dec . . .” “Ronnie and Ronnie,” Dom chimes in. “Oh, wait, I don’t know how that works . . .”
The pair has been working together since 1996 when they met as teenagers. Dick was a runner, and Dom was a magician. Dick recalls how they started out: “We didn’t know each other before, we met at the BBC when we were 18 and 19 and just became best mates.”
“We’re still best mates,” says father-of-two Dom, something they both agree is fundamental if you’re going to work so closely with someone.
“Love’s a strong word,” laughs Dick when we ask whether the pair is joined at the hip. “It’s like having a second marriage. It’s not a case of how much time we spend together anymore, it’s how much time we don’t spend together. If you added those days up it’s not many in 18 years!”
Not that it’s a bad thing, as Dom tells us: “It’s nice though. You know when you don’t know someone that well? If you do a five-hour car journey with them you’d feel the need to talk about things you don’t want to talk about. When you’re so comfortable in each other’s company you can just sit back in the car and not speak.”
It does sound like a second marriage to us. Dom has been happily married to Sandi, who he describes as his soulmate, since 2005 and the pair have two children together. Dick is single, but this doesn’t mean that he doesn’t have someone to share everyday highs and lows with.
Dom says: “To be in a double act together is just the best thing, because you share the highs and you share the lows. If you don’t get a job, you get to phone each other up and talk about it. It’s quite an insane world to live in, really. The only thing we’ve talked about that we’d possibly do apart, where we’d support the other one, would be if one of us was offered Strictly Come Dancing. The other one would want to be there every day to watch and support them.”
Supporting each other comes as standard, but there is a competitiveness between Dick and Dom – at least on stage. The pair come to Birmingham Town Hall on September 6 for Dick V Dom, a boxing-themed live show which sees them split the audience and battle against each other in games and fast-paced fun. But that’s as far as the drama gets between them.
Dom says: “When it comes to the physical side of comedy, Dick wins hands down. He is secretly made of rubber and eyeballs. We’re not competitive at all, we’re a team. However, in this show the competition is on.”
Dick adds: “We can’t wait to bring the anarchy that we are known for onto the stage. If you think you’re in for a poshy pants sit down with polite clapping then think again.”
We can’t imagine Dick and Dom doing a poshy pants sit down show, ever. As it goes, neither can they.
“I don’t think our act will ever be serious,” says Dick, “but we have moved on, in the sense that we’re now doing a science factual entertainment show on CBBC which is very different to Da Bungalow. We find out about geniuses that changed the world!”
Dom adds: “I don’t think we’ll ever star in any period dramas or anything though.”
Nor would the twosome ever play villains. “With our target audience, they would feel a bit weird if we were fun and happy on screen and then suddenly we were baddies on stage,” says Dom. “They expect us to be on their side and on their team and so . . .” “They also want to hear us shout the B word!” interrupts Dick, in a nod to their most well-remembered show.
We’re talking, of course, about Bogies – the daft game that the pair were known for in their four years on Da Bungalow – which involves shouting ‘bogies’ at varying volumes in a public place. It got many youngsters into trouble during its time, and it’s not something that’s gone away since. Quite an interesting claim to fame, by anyone’s standards.
Dom laughs to recall it. “Weirdly, that finished 10 years ago so a lot of kids now don’t know what Da Bungalow is!” Dick adds: “But we have had a new audience appearing recently, as kids have been finding ‘Bogies’ on YouTube, so it’s become a thing again.”
“Bogies was a phenomenon,” Dick continues. “We couldn’t have predicted how fast it would catch on. It’s died down a lot now, but we feel sorry for teachers back then as kids would have been having a field day shouting Bogies in class!”
“It was just harmless fun though and gave families a real laugh on a Saturday morning,” says Dom. “We feel so lucky that Da Bungalow happened.”
It all seems very daft, but there’s method to the madness, the pair tells us. It’s not just the kids they’re amusing. Dick says: “When we choose shows to do on CBBC, we make sure that we get a good balance of comedy – so that kids can kick back and be kids – and educational programmes that teach kids through entertainment. For example ‘Diddy Dick and Dom’ is utter escapism and lunacy. It is there for one reason, to make kids and their parents laugh. It won a Bafta last year so we are very proud of it.”
Dom adds: “It’s important to remember that kids learn all day during school and deserve to kick back and laugh at our shows.”
And with two huge shows coming up, kicking back is just what young audiences and their parents can look forward to. Dick says: “Kids are of course our target audience, but also we’ve been a double act now for 18 years, so there are people who are 25 or 30 who remember us from their childhoods. We’ve gone through two generations of kids now!” Dom adds: “There are people who meet us and remember us from when they were kids, who now have kids who watch us now too. So we’re starting to feel very old now. Like the Chuckle Brothers. Well, nearly.
“You have to reinvent yourself every now and then. Da Bungalow was definitely of its time, in the same sort of way that Bottom was of its time. Different things just change the rulebook slightly. We can’t really go back to that, TV’s changed. We’d probably do a one-off Bungalow if the BBC wanted us to – say for Children in Need or something.”
Until then, the pair will continue to delight on stage. They’re particularly excited to be coming to Birmingham, as their travels have never brought them to a stint in the city. “We’ve never been on stage in Birmingham before, so we’re really looking forward to it. It’s going to be amazing,” says Dick.
Dom adds: “Performing in Cinderella is going to be in at the deep end for us because we’ve never done a pantomime together, we’ve done them separately before we were Dick and Dom officially. So this year we were going to do one anyway. Then when John Conway, who’s putting Cinderella together, came to us and said ‘lads, I’m putting this little panto together in Birmingham, with about 4,500 people a night, do you fancy doing it?’ we were like, ‘that sounds perfect!’ He told us there are going to be Bhangra dancers, we’d arrive on horseback through the audience and Paul O’Grady and Bradley Walsh would be in the show too, it just sounded so amazing. And we get to spend time in Birmingham which is great.”
They’re both particularly excited to spend time with the other actors. Dick says: “We love old school entertainers, because you learn so much from them. We’re still new to the business compared to those guys, who have seen it all and done it all . We’re learning from them all the time.”
“These days there’s a lot of instant success,” adds Dom, “people who weren’t celebrities who’ve won a reality show and, bang, are suddenly massively famous. Even though those guys have done well in their own right, we’re massive fans of guys like Paul O’Grady and Bradley Walsh as they’ve trained from an early age, done the working men’s clubs, and worked and worked, done holiday seasons and they’re still entertaining now. We’re going to learn a lot from them.”
And with their own special kind of comedy to bring to the table, we’re sure the comedy veterans might learn a thing or two themselves. We wonder if we’ll hear Paul O’Grady screaming Bogies from our seats?
Dick V Dom is at The Birmingham Town Hall, Victoria Square on September 6. To buy tickets call the Box Office on: 0121 780 3333 or go to www.thsh.co.uk
Cinderella – The World’s Biggest Pantomime is at the Birmingham Barclaycard Arena from December 20-24. For tickets, call 0844 338 8000 or visit www.theticketfactory.com
By Kirsty Bosley