Ask any millennial if they remember Dick and Dom in Da Bungalow, and their reply will probably be:
Once they’ve stopped gleefully screaming the show’s catchphrase, they’ll tell you it was a weekend kids’ TV programme on the BBC presented by Richard ‘Dick’ McCourt and Dominic Wood – aka comedy duo Dick and Dom – and it was also pure, unadulterated, I’m-writing-to-Ofcom chaos.
Dick and Dom in Da Bungalow – whose name was a parody of the Sacha Baron Cohen film Ali G InDaHouse – aired between 2002 and 2006. It became a cult hit with kids and students alike, thanks to its puerile humour (like Bogies, a game where Dick and Dom went to serious public places – e.g a library – to see who had the guts to scream the word “bogies” the loudest), its complete absurdity (once a cat randomly appeared and sang a song about Stoke-on-Trent) and the fact that Dick and Dom seemed to be having the absolute time of their lives making total havoc on live TV.
Was there any kind of format to this live mayhem? Well actually, yes, and technically speaking, Dick and Dom in Da Bungalow walked so that Taskmaster could run.
Each weekend, a different group of six children (called Bungalow Heads) featured on the show, and Dick and Dom set them a series of bizarre tasks, awarding the contestants points in a rather haphazard but generally fair manner based on their performance. Sound familiar?
At the end of the Saturday show, the winning child would win a prize, and then the points rolled over to the next show (on Sunday), with the contestants continuing to compete to win the grand prizes. The first and second-place prizes were usually fairly desirable – think games consoles, bikes, camcorders (!) – and the third-place prize was something ridiculous like an ear wig (an actual wig for your ear), or a hubcap.
Like Taskmaster, the tasks were also a glorious mix between silly, genuinely challenging and fun. For instance, attempting to douse yourself with various coloured paints in the right order:
Or the Repetition Competition, when contestants have to repeat a series of random words in the correct sequence (which sometimes didn’t go to plan):
Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toast saw contestants try to cover their bodies with as many slices of toast before the time ran out, and wouldn’t be a bad idea for a Taskmaster live studio task:
They had two-part tasks too: in Ew Yum Yum, contestants first had to catch as many breakfast foods (being thrown at them by dinner ladies) as they can into their bowl, then they had five seconds to eat as much of it as possible for an extra 100 points:
The Outboard Motor Gob game saw contestants try to blow a raspberry for the longest (which sounds so like a Taskmaster task we could almost believe it was one):
Each episode’s tasks built towards the Creamy Muck-Muck Grand Finale, which – as the name suggests – inevitably involved all the children, crew, Dick and Dom themselves and most of the set getting covered in custard. This segment usually took the form of a well-known TV game show or competition, like Mastermind, Strictly Come Dancing, or Deal or No Deal.
Arguably its finest moment, however, came in the form of Crystal Muck, which is worth watching in its entirety for Dave Chapman’s impression of The Crystal Maze presenter Richard O’Brien, and also features several Taskmaster-worthy games:
This isn’t Dick and Dom’s only connection to Taskmaster: in series 8, Iain Stirling’s entry for the “Best Pair of Things” task was Dick and Dom performing a bespoke Taskmaster song.
These days, the duo are touring a live version of Dick and Dom in Da Bungalow where grownup audience members compete in the tasks, proving that the joy of doing silly things stays with us long after childhood. Perhaps that’s why Taskmaster ended up such a monumental hit – all it’s missing is a good game of Bogies.
Taskmaster Series 16 returns later this year on Channel 4