Three things with Ian ‘Dicko’ Dickson: ‘It’s a dirty, smelly old beast, rather like myself’

Australia first met Ian “Dicko” Dickson as the original mean judge on Australian Idol. It was the music figure’s debut TV role, one he stepped into as an extension of his day job. At the time, Dickson was a senior executive for BMG Australia, the record label that would sign whichever act won the talent show.

As he tells it, his spot on the judging panel served an important purpose: “We wanted someone on the inside to make sure we didn’t end up with an idiot.”

When Dickson moved to Australia from the UK in 2001, two years before Idol began, he already had his ubiquitous nickname, care of a British band he worked with called the Farm. The group hailed from Liverpool, where, like in Australia, people have a habit of shortening words.

“They’d say, ‘Ah hey Dicko, how’s it going lad?’ So it stuck and it seemed to fit when I moved to Australia. If I wasn’t a Dicko when I came here, I sure as hell would have ended up one.”

Ian ‘Dicko’ Dickson (left) with his fellow Australian Idol judges Marcia Hines and Mark Holden in Sydney in November 2004. Photograph: Patrick Riviere/Getty Images

As it is for many Brits, football has been in Dickson’s blood since birth. His dad took him to his first game at the age of four and he’s been a “football nut” ever since, with mixed results.

“My team’s called Birmingham City and we just got relegated to the third division in English football, so we’re shit,” he says. “But that’s part of it. You can’t really chop and change. If you’re born with a bad team, you’re cursed to stick with that bad team for life.”

The TV personality has put his football expertise to good use by appearing in the upcoming SBS documentary Came From Nowhere. It charts the rise of the Western Sydney Wanderers, who claimed the biggest trophy there is to win in Asia just two years after the club’s inception.

“[It’s] one of the most remarkable stories in football history worldwide,” Dickson says.

In the process of his big move to Australia, Dickson accidentally waylaid something precious. Here he tells us about the box he still can’t forgive himself for losing, as well as the stories behind two other important belongings.

What I’d save from my house in a fire

‘I don’t think I’ll ever be able to bring myself to part with it’: Ian ‘Dicko’ Dickson with his 2003 Toyota Prado LandCruiser.

This is going to sound awful, so thank God my wife’s not listening. It’s my 2003 Toyota Prado LandCruiser.

I’m not a car person but I have a real emotional connection with this one. I bought it with my first ever paycheck from Australian Idol – I was an unknown then, so I didn’t get paid a lot of money. But the money I did get, I used to buy this car.

It’s a dirty, smelly old beast, rather like myself, but I love it and it’s never let me down. I’ve been driving it now for over a third of my life and I don’t think I’ll ever be able to bring myself to part with it. We understand each other.

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My most useful object

A set of Zeiss binoculars. They’re very special to me and my wife – we fight over them.

We live in the country, really close to Australia Zoo [on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast]. My wife’s a wildlife carer, which means she’s always rehabilitating birds and soft releasing them on our property. The wildlife hospital at the Irwins’ place constantly asks if she can take these birds, some of which are really beautiful, exotic creatures. And we’ve planted a lot of native bush in our garden as protection for small birds, to try and attract them in. So these Zeiss binoculars are brilliant for sitting on the deck and keeping an eye on all the birds.

My mother-in-law bequeathed the binoculars to us – they’ve been in the family for over 50 years. You can tell how old they are because it says “made in West Germany” on them. And the lenses are just brilliant; they’re a really incredible piece of optical engineering.

Plus, they allow us to keep our eye on the rednecks up here – the red-necked wallabies, not just the locals.

The item I most regret losing

When we left the UK to move to Australia in 2001, I was charged with clearing out the garage. I had to just be quite ruthless – I got rid of loads of vinyl, clothes and stuff we didn’t need.

But as part of the clear-up, I accidentally threw away a box with all of the home videos of our kids when they were young. I don’t think I’ve ever seen my wife as disappointed in me as the moment we realised it was gone. I can’t even believe I did it – it just feels so utterly reckless. Throwing away that history with your kids is just something awful.

It was from a time before iPhones, so you actually had to get the camcorder out and film birthdays and Christmases. So we’ve now got this massive gap in the testament to our lives as young parents and our kids as babies. It still hurts to talk about.


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