INTERVIEW: Richard ‘Dick’ McCourt of Children’s TV
Richard ‘Dick’ McCourt of children’s TV’s Dick and Dom fame has been part of the BAFTA Award winning duo Dick and Dom for twenty years and has appeared in some of the most popular shows in CBBC history including Dick and Dom in Da Bungalow, The Legend of Dick and Dom and Absolute Genius amongst others.
DLUXE caught up with Richard ahead of his starring role alongside ITV’s Heartbeat, David Lonsdale and Leicester’s very own singing sensation Sam Bailey; who returns for a second year in Leicester’s biggest panto – Beauty and the Beast at De Montfort Hall.
So how many times a day does someone shout ‘Bogies’ at you?
Probably four! It’s crazy, all these years later, we finished that in 2006 so you’re talking 11 years ago and it’s still going strong. I think YouTube has revitalised it and I think a lot of our ex viewers of Da Bungalow now show their kids it, so there is a whole new generation of viewers coming on to Bogies.
How does it feel to be a part of a whole generation’s childhood experience?
It just makes us feel old really, we’re like Grandads now. We started in ’96, so ’96 to 2006 that is one generation and we’ve done another generation 2006 to 2017. So some viewers who used to watch us in ’96 are now like 30 years old and they’ve got their own kids so it’s bonkers.
So you’ve almost passed doing the University tour?
No we’re still doing those, we’ve got a load of freshers dates coming up at the end of this year because obviously 20-22 year olds, 10 years ago they were Bungalow viewers. It’s all different age groups at the moment.
Brilliant, so you do the same job but now with added alcohol?
I wouldn’t say that. Lemonade all the way!
What was your proudest memory of that time period?
I think just doing Saturday mornings in general, if you ask any presenter who’s ever done Saturday mornings like Philip Schofield or Zoe Ball etc, they all say the best job they’ve ever had is Saturday morning television because it’s just such a hoot. You just have a really good laugh. It lasted 5 years and we won a couple of BAFTAs so it really was the highlight of our career.
And it was all live wasn’t it?
Yes it was all live! Every Saturday morning and Sunday morning we were on the digital channel live so it was two live shows a weekend. Obviously live TV is a rarity these days in many ways so we had the joy of that as well, you know anything that could happen television.
The transition from going from television to stage hasn’t really been that difficult, has it?
No, I suppose stage is very much like live TV, anything could happen. It’s exactly the same except you’ve got the audience there watching you so actually it’s probably even worse because on live TV you’ve got cameras so you don’t know what anyone’s thinking but on stage you get everyone telling you what they are thinking. It’s probably even worse in that respect but it’s still as much fun.
Once you are on stage you’ve got to make sure nothing goes wrong because you are in front of a live audience. I mean the audience obviously like viewers of live TV always love it if something goes wrong. So we’ve learnt loads but we’ve been doing stage work since we started so we’re very used to it.
What was perhaps the biggest thing that has ever gone wrong?
There was a famous clip of a viewer of the Bungalow that called in and thought they were calling Ant & Dec on ITV but actually they were calling Dick and Dom on BBC. That was quite a major incident because this phone call went on for ages and we had to try and explain to them who on earth we were and what programme they’d called into.
Quite crushing as well I suppose.
Well yeah a little bit because they wanted to call into them and not us. As people say they’re like Waitrose and we’re more like Lidl.
You’re coming to Leicester, you’re coming to Panto, Beauty and the Beast, who are you playing? Well trhere isn’t an actual character name at the moment obviously it’s kind of the Panto comic type, the Buttons, Wishy Washy, Smee type role. You’ll get the usual Dick n Dom type stuff, well you’ll only get one half of Dick n Dom so they’ll be some Bogies in there obviously and I’ll be getting kids on the stage at the end and it will all be done in the usual Dick n Dom style and they’ll be some mess as well I’ve heard. Things always get messy when one of us is around.
Is this your first time working in Leicester?
In Panto, yeah. I think we’ve done some bits and bobs at the space centre, we did a lot of filming there for our show Absolute Genius on BBC in the Space Centre so that’s probably the closest we’ve got to filming in Leicester.
What is it about the genre of Panto that makes it so enduring, whats the appeal of it?
Well I think for some kids it’s the first time they’ve ever been to the theatre which is an amazing experience, to see a live show in the theatre. Panto is obviously geared towards kids but families as well so the whole family can come along and enjoy it. I think Panto has moved on from the kind of cheesy Christmas cracker type jokes and I think you’ll see in this Panto this year, I’ve been talking to the Scriptwriter and I think it’s going to take a very modern twist. They’ll be lots of stuff about social media and I think there will be ways for you to interact with the show as the shows going on.
Sounds intriguing. With working all over the Christmas period, so you probably have Christmas Day off and that’s it.
Yes Christmas Day off and New Year’s Day off, I think that is probably much it. I think maybe one day a week off but it’s quite hard work Panto. It’s two shows a day daily so it’s non-stop. You have to be fit for it.
Will you be escaping back home for Christmas Day or is Christmas coming to you here in Leicester?
I haven’t decided yet but I’m actually from Sheffield originally so I might just nip up the road as it’s not that far really. My family are still in Sheffield so that could be the answer.
So after Panto, you said you’re looking at venues at the moment in Edinburgh so what’s in the pipeline for you? What projects have you got going on?
We’ve got a new series of Diddy TV coming out which is Diddy Dick n Dom from Da Bungalow, they’re still going strong with their TV parody show on CBBC. I think next year we are working at Butlins again doing our live shows there and Edinburgh Festival and some more filming for Diddy TV. So lots going on!
Beauty and the Beast runs at De Montfort Hall from 16 Dec – 7th Jan. Tickets at www.demontforthall.co.uk