"Pull that lever to GET YOUR OWN BACK."
Yep, you heard us. Dave Benson Phillips.. A name synonymous with gunge, getting home by 4pm on a weekday and brutal, yet somehow still family friendly, revenge on maths teachers. Well, the former Get Your Own Back host was all these things until 2009, when he became a cruel victim of the fake news machine, with false reports of his death circulating not just in playgrounds across the UK, but production company offices too. The telly work dropped off, the gunge went stale and school kids had to deal with their teachers alone, with their adult ally presumed gone for good. Now Dave has decided to address his ‘dead’ years in a new stage show, taking place at Brighton Fringe Festival, called Christ! I Thought He Was Dead. We called up the first gentleman of gunge to find out more.
Tell me about the genesis of the show
“It’s basically me putting myself on display for the purposes of, well, proving I’m not dead! I’ll be performing some of my favourite children’s songs and more importantly taking questions and answers from the audience that are there. About my life, my career and of course my untimely demise.”
How much of the show is related to your ‘death’?
“It depends upon the audience – there’ll be a chance for them to ask questions, which I’ll gladly answer. I get the feeling that among the questions that I’ll be answering, the death thing will quite prominent. It was a very dark and very harrowing time. Everybody used to come up to me and say “Oh my God, I thought you were dead!” No, no I’m not.”
You were one of the first victims of ‘fake news’, then?
“I don’t think I was the first victim – it’s just the name changes from generation to generation. At the moment it’s fake news, back during the war years it was propaganda, misinformation. It’s an interesting concept and one I’ve become a bit of an expert in.”
Will you be gunging anyone during the show?
“Yes, there will be gunge and it will be making its presence known.”
How regularly do you gunge?
We have a live version of Get Your Own Back that we actually take to the universities. We do special events, we do charity fundraisers. Basically, if you’ve got enough space for a 14 foot high gunge tank, and 200 feet of the gunge, we’re ‘round.”
Where does the gunge tank spend the rest of the time when it’s not on the road?
“In a very, very secure … no, I can’t tell you. It’s classified. “
Can you tell me where you get your gunge from or is that classified too?
“Oh I can’t tell you that, that’s classified. Known only to me and the gunge makers of the island of Barbados.”
Who would you like to gunge? Are there any politicians that you feel deserve a gunging?
“I’ve looked and I think they’re all doing a good job on their own. I don’t know. I mean, let’s put it this way, if I ever get the chance to gunge Mrs May that would be nice but I get the feeling that she’s quite a tall lady, isn’t she? What is she, 6” or something daft?”
Would she fit in the tank?
“Oh yeah. We could make accommodations for that… I can’t think of anybody that I would like to gunge. I mean yeah, there’s people I would like to talk to but to sling them in gunge? No, no, no. Have a chat with them first.”
Why not brush your ‘death’ under the carpet and move on?
“To tell you the truth it never really went away. That’s the problem. There’s no platform for me to turn around and say ‘No, this is a fib. I’m here.’” It was actually pretty harrowing. I’ll say that much.”
What are you into when it comes to music?
“Oh my God, my taste is eclectic. It could be anything from hip-hop to choral music to classical music. I’m all over the shop. Pop music, children’s music, music that emotes, guitar, folk music, garage band music, DJ stuff, tracks, mixes, loops. At one point I was honorary ambassador of Fiction Records, that was good fun!”
Yes! You congratulated Tame Impala on Twitter when they won their Brit Award.
“I used to listen to a lot of his stuff because they used to hand his music to me, so I’d listened to a lot of them and also The Maccabees. Some of it was just pretty wild music. It was great fun just hanging in the Fiction offices as well. As a self-employed entertainer I’m just on my own, in my house, I don’t get to talk to anyone. So it’s great to sit in an office and think ‘What you listening to?’, and being like the annoying neighbour.”
You often DJ 90’s nights – what are your biggest floor fillers?
“Oh my goodness, now you’re talking. Let me just go get my book. I’ve got a book that I use… Whigfield, ‘Cha-Cha Slide’, ‘Jump Around’ by House of Pain. Believe it or not Scat Man and ‘Mambo No. 5’ go down a storm, ‘La Vida Loca’ is another one, ‘C’est La Vie’ by B*witched that goes down well. Anything by Steps, ‘Love Shack’. You can hear where I’m going with this.”
Tell me more about the book?
“Where most people have a computer screen that they look into, they do everything on the computer, I’ve got a book, an A5 book, and I write down certain patterns. I’ve just learned how to do Serato and I’ve got that at the moment as well, so I’m running that with what you would then call the analog system.”
Christ! I Thought He Was Dead is on May 26-28 at Sweet St Andrews, Brighton.