Kevin O'Loughlin was in Mothercare buying nappies at the time. And Paul Charlton had just put in an application for work on the Stuck For Staff website because, as he says: "I'd got nothing again."
O'Loughlin and Charlton got an email. Rooney just got a phone call from the trio's invisible fourth member John Hoggarth. "He was like 'Did you get the email?'" Rooney remembers. "'What email? What are you talking about?' He said, 'We've got a series, we've got a series ... I think we've got a series. Did you get the email?'"
They'd got a series. After years touring the comedy circuit and spending Augusts in Edinburgh, after making a pilot programme and then waiting a rather long time for a decision ("it was purgatory"), The Ginge (Rooney), The Geordie (Charlton) and The Geek (O'Loughlin) were being offered a BBC Two peak-time comedy sketch show.
Since the two-thirds Scottish trio (you work it out) met at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama in 2001, they have been writing and working together with former National Youth Theatre artistic director Hoggarth. They've done the midnight bearpit slots at Edinburgh: "People screaming 'Die, die, die', glasses crashing off walls," recalls Rooney. And they've scrambled for any small roles on offer. Rooney was constantly cast as "a druggie or a criminal ... even in Scottish dramas." ("He's got dodgy eyes," says Charlton).
O'Loughlin once got a phone call from Friends star David Schwimmer apologising because one of O'Loughlin's scenes in the film Run Fatboy Run - directed by Schwimmer - had hit the cutting room floor. O'Loughlin is happy to replay the phone call for me. "'Is this Kevin? This is David Schwimmer.' 'Who?' 'David Schwimmer.' 'Who the f***'s this?' I thought it was my flatmate. And he said 'I'm an actor and a writer and a director and I worked with you on a film called Run Fatboy Run.' 'Oh, you're that David Schwimmer ...'"
Now, finally, they'd been given a chance to take their hugely popular comedy act from stage to screen. You can see the results tonight. Half an hour of quick sketches featuring nuns, scarecrows, seagulls, Y-fronts, fairytale wolves, funny dancing, James Blunt, and three thirtysomething men looking like they're having the time of their lives.
What is it like? The touchstones, they suggest, might be Morecambe And Wise and The Fast Show. "It's something a family can sit and watch," suggests O'Loughlin. "It's not condescending."
"Sometimes I think when people say 'Oh, it's for a family audience' there's a response to it that says 'It can't be good'," suggests Charlton. "But we're trying to bring those layers into it that you can enjoy if you're a connoisseur of comedy. But you can also enjoy it if you're a kid that's never seen comedy before."
"When we started in comedy, good times had been forgotten about a little bit," adds Rooney. "It was all 'Oh this is a bit cult.' 'Check this out because they're quite cool.' But in fact people still watch Morecambe And Wise every single Christmas. They still watch The Two Ronnies."
"There's so much cynical humour and humour on the back of other's misfortunes around that we just don't do it," concludes Charlton. "We don't alienate anyone from our world."
That world is one that builds up week by week. Think storylines. Think comedy arcs. "So many people talk about sketch shows saying 'If I've seen it one week I've seen it,'" Charlton says, "'because it just comes back with the same ideas, the same people saying the same things, just in a different place.' But we want to get as many storylines in there."
"We hope people will make an investment in it," adds O'Loughlin. The trio's popular sensibility is presumably why their new series has snagged the directorial talents of Mandie Fletcher, whose CV is one of the gaudier in the history of BBC comedy (Blackadder and Ab Fab, to cherrypick a couple of past hits). And a CV that's hard to overlook, admits O'Loughlin. "She's directing you and you go 'Yeah I know, but I'm thinking of doing it like this.' And she says, 'Yeah, but on Only Fools And Horses ...' And you've got nothing to come back with."
Ask them for comedy heroes and an eclectic tumble of names spill out. Spike Milligan, The Two Ronnies ("Because one of them, Ronnie Barker, looks like my grandad," says O'Loughlin, "and it's honest-to-God well-structured comedy"), the comedy sketch show Big Train, Porridge and lots of sitcoms. The latter for the stories. Maybe that's the actors in them. "We're not stand-ups. We want to create characters," they say.
When we meet they are on their last day of filming for the series. What will they do once they've finished. "We collapse," says Charlton. But the tiredness in the bones they admit to will no doubt dissipate if - presumably after another suitably agonising wait - they get an email (or a phone call) confirming a second series.
"We've already got ideas if we get it," says Charlton. But then that's how they spend their time. Coming up with comedy ideas. "If I'm out with the girlfriend," says Rooney, "she's shopping. I've got to think of something."
The Ginge, The Geordie And The Geek starts tonight on BBC Two at 7.30pm