As master of the gunge on one of the CBBC’s top television shows, Dave Benson Phillips managed to not get his hands dirty.
But now, he can finally ‘get his own back’ against his foes in the ring as he launches a wrestling career.
The 53-year-old, who has lived in Worthing for 17 years, is ‘stretching his muscles’ and fitting in ‘a fair bit of walking’ to prepare for Riptide Wrestling’s Brighton Championship Tournament at the Brighthelm Centre in North Road, Brighton, on August 3.
He said: “It fits me because wrestling is known as the theatre of war: goodies and baddies, people being flung about, love, hate, loss.
“People watching the fighting go ‘grrr’. It is very primal.”
Dave presented the hit show Get Your Own Back from the first episode in 1991 until 2004, when it ended, where children competed against each other to dunk their annoying parents in a tank full of gunge.
He has since branched into the removals business with Benson’s Big Red Mover, but one of his first-ever jobs was as a wrestler at Pontins in Camber Sands aged 18.
After quitting in his early 20s, the TV personality got back in the ring recently at a family fun day in Horsham – and it was there he was scouted for the Brighton gig.
Much like Mickey Rourke’s character in The Wrestler, Dave is ready to recapture his past glories. He said: “I’m the perfect age for wrestling now; I’m quite stocky, I have a bit of a belly, I have no hair... I’m a good face for UK wrestling.”
Growing up watching British wrestling in the seventies, his heroes include Giant Haystacks and Big Daddy, but Dave admitted his signature move is ‘running as far away as possible’.
He confirmed there would be none of his trademark gunge in the ring, as it could be a ‘health and safety hazard’ and ‘slipperier than ice’, but did not rule out donning the spandex: “I might have to dust off the old Speedos – people could get an eyeful.”
His wife, who he referred to as ‘Mrs Phillips’, then suggested that he could wear a mankini, made famous by the film Borat.
Dave responded: “I’d look like a bag of rotten apples if you put me in a mankini – it wouldn’t even be like one of those sexy garden gnomes.”
The wrestling tournament is one of many events across Brighton which will kick off Brighton Pride, which is on Saturday, August 4.
Dave said he had a habit of joining in Brighton Pride by accident – such as the time when he joined the gay bikers’ procession while driving back from an appearance at a children’s hospital on his motorbike.
Reminiscing on his past, including sharing a lift with David Beckham, Dave referred to a conversation he had with Michael Caine about never turning down work – and felt they had a lot in common on that front.
He said: “I have got to do some amazing things as an entertainer and on television.
“In an after dinner chat, I can say: ‘remember when I did wrestling?’ You get one crack at life, so you have to go for it.”