Bob Golding, Ian Kirkby, Leigh Gill
CBBC, 21 September to 24 December 2012 (9 episodes + 1 compilation in 1 series)
Ten years after the seminal Bungalow, Dick and Dom proved that they hadn't fully grown up with the circus-themed Hoopla.
Broadcast at 6pm on Fridays, Hoopla didn't pretend to be educational or informative, it was a pure entertainment programme. The ostensible setting was a travelling Victorian circus, coming from such tourist traps as Whoopy-dooe. Featured in the hour were magic tricks, contortionists, and musical performances. Slotted around these attractions was a series of games, leading up to a final.
- The Strongman Challenge, in which a young contender tried to beat Richard at various gym tests - squat thrusts, star jumps, that sort of thing.
- The Hand of Cackamanga, a game on the dodgems where players tried to avoid the green slimy hand. There's nothing like a nod to Takeshi's Castle, is there. This round was described in song, for obvious reasons.
- Domball, another dodgem game, with a car containing Dominic used as a puck in a game of ice hockey.
- Gipsy Rose Dick, where two contenders eat various yucky foodstuffs, and the same quantity is put into a blender for their opponent to drink.
- Celebrity Darts, in which players would attempt to hit images of celebrities - success would have the celeb ask a question about herself for further points.
- Kiss or Punch, blindfolded children would be given clues to cardboard cutouts of famous people and asked to kiss or punch them.
Each challenge winner would be congratulated on their achievement, presented with a golden hoop, and then invited to hula with it for twenty seconds. Eighteen of these seconds would be the winner pretending to hula, the hoop having fallen to the floor. Then they would be escorted off by the show's resident clowns.
The four winners then went on to the Finaleval, where they could win the Golden Hoopla Trophy and other prizes money just can't buy. There, they'd have half-a-minute to brush their teeth and create a large amount of foam around their mush - whoever was adjudged the worst by fairground owner Mike Poo and his judging panel would be dispatched from the stage to ride The Lion With No Pride.
The three remaining contestants play "I am the best in the world", showing how good they are at opera singing, or being a cackly witch. Three rounds of young people embarrassing themselves, someone's off to ride The Lion With No Pride. (A joke that carries at least three meanings? Genius!)
The final challenge was set with eight bins. In seven of the bins were life-changing prizes, like a balloon, or a plastic ruler, or an egg-box. In one of the bins was Cyril, a small and vicious clown. When he was found, he would come out and beat up the contestant. Whichever contender isn't beaten by a small and vicious clown is the winner.
"Whichever contender isn't beaten by a small and vicious clown is the winner." Sentences that only make sense in Dick and Dom land.
There's always been a slight air of menace around fairgrounds. It's not just that, in their make-up, clowns are creepy and scary and quite clearly not like the rest of us - a trope exploited by this show, which had the clowns talk in a language completely unintelligable to the rest of us.
Not just the clowns, but the whole place is full of people doing disconcerting and slightly frightening gymnastics. The production captured that uneasy feeling - one commentator saw parallels with "The League of Gentlemen", and we can see where they're coming from. Hoopla had its dark side, and wasn't afraid to use it.
But it would be wrong to say that this was a dark programme. Dick 'n' Dom's slapstick and zest for entertainment ensured the show was close to its distant ancestor Crackerjack - games and performances leading up to a big bang finale. And it felt like anarchy was always just around the corner - Gipsy Rose Dick channeled Monty Python, hollering, "Get it down ya! People are going to turn over to Coronation Street in a moment!" Almost every week, some child would act up and run amock around the hosts. Television commentator Caitlin Moran was a particular fan, telling readers of The Times how "It has Tiswas DNA in it. People of a certain age will feel nostalgia."
In summary: it's complex stuff, and it's more than just entertainment, and it's damned fine entertainment. Go Cyril yourself.
"Cards, cards, will make a brew. When they see it, they will spew!"
"In the game you're about to see, no men, women, children, clowns, or ferrets were harmed. Not even a teeny bit. Enjoy!"
"Which bin isn't Cyril in?"
Andy Blythe and Marten Joustra
Filmed in a warehouse dressed as a large circus tent at Dingles Fairground Heritage Centre in Devon.
Broadcasting regulator OFCOM took exception to the "Gypsy Rose Dick" item, when it appeared a child competitor had been made uncomfortable by the concoction.
Hoopla was repeated in spring 2013, with the hour-long programmes condensed to a half-hour show, usually with some of the games excised. This may be related to the item above.