SM:tv Visit 2 | Absolutely Brian // the official website of TV and Radio personality Brian Dowling

Christine, Nora, Ruth, Sue & Nicolette's Visit to SM:tv Live (November 2002)

Just like last time it was very much last minute before we knew the trip was definitely on... however on the Tuesday before the show, we got the great news we were actually going. We'd been crossing our fingers and trying to get the Christmas present we'd arranged ready, just in case and we managed to …just!

Christine is a fabulous organiser and found us a hotel to stay in the night before, it was quite close to the studios and we made our assorted ways there by coach, train, car and tube.
Chris and Nic arrived around 4.30pm and decided to have a walk along the Thames Embankment at the back of the Television Studios. They saw a few girls hanging around looking through the fencing that surrounds the studios, when they heard the girls shout "Brian!" and someone turn round to shout "Hi!" back they were totally shocked. Brian was standing outside the studios approx 30yds away, animatedly chatting with Tess and Blazin' Squad. He was there for about 10 minutes while waiting for their cars to arrive to take them home. Finally the cars arrived he gave Tess a hug and a kiss and shouted "See you tomorrow" as they got into separate cars and were whisked away. The trusty mobile came in handy as Chris texted a few envious souls to let them know - much to the frustration of Nora who had just that minute got off the coach at Victoria and was on her way to catch the tube!

Our rooms were high up this time, we got a fabulous view of St Paul's, and the new 'gherkin' building all lit up in green and blue. Once we were all together we had a drink and set about the important task of attaching the labels, all so beautifully written with loads of thought, to the relevant patches of Brian's cushion. We wrapped it in purple tissue and somehow got it onto the gift bag, it was a tight squeeze. Although we knew we were going to watch the show we had no idea whether we would get a chance to meet Brian, so we knew we might have to leave his early Christmas present with someone behind the scenes. This seemed particularly likely as it was Brian's first show back after his holiday in Australia...He'd most likely still be jet-lagged having flown back on the Wednesday and would have lots to catch up on, not least their recent Bafta awards.

And so we set off, not sure what to expect but happy to be going.

As before we were given guest stickers and shown by the friendly staff to the Studio Café often featured in CD:uk. All sorts of people were milling about, Blazin' Squad, the guys from Liberty X, Liz from Atomic Kitten. Just before the show was about to start we were shown through to where we would be watching.

It was one of the stages at the back of the studio. Almost straight away we were rushed to join the audience ready for the first song, and somehow got caught up in the general mayhem. Amid cries of "Come on!! 20 seconds to air!! We were herded over to the larger stage and despite attempts to escape somehow ended up watching S Club Juniors performing Puppy Love! We waved our arms enthusiastically, only sometimes ever so slightly out of sync with the person next to us.

This time we were allowed to stay at the back of the busy studio floor during the whole show so we were lucky enough to be able to see the rehearsals between the live bits. They really don't get a spare minute while the show is on as even during ad breaks and cartoons there are set changes, rehearsals and costume changes.

Just as we were about to try and find someone to leave the cushion with, Nora thought she saw Brian tear down the corridor and into the loo. That was soon forgotten as Tess breezed back in and we eagerly attracted her attention. We said' hi' and she chatted and Chris gave her, her present - a mug saying, "I love lip-gloss" which made her laugh and gasp, "I love it!" Next eagle-eyed Nicolette spotted Brian coming through too. Wahay! Christine surprised herself by shouting him over. He recognised her immediately and (bless him!) he came straight over, looking bronzed, relaxed and it has to be said, completely gorgeous. (When he had been whizzed through before it had been to record a little bit for Popstar the Rivals with Tess). Tess showed Brian her mug and we gave him his (and he took one to give to Conor as a thank you.) Brian said he was worried what his would say after seeing Tess's but laughed when he read it because it actually said "Sometimes I think life would be easier if I wasn't this gorgeous!…….." he said "Well! I can't argue with that can I?" and told us he'd take it home and use it that night!

He happily chatted and signed autographs, and showed no sign of being in any hurry to leave us. He has a lovely way about him that when you ask him a question he looks at you directly, as if you are the only one there and he always gives a lovely and considered answer.

Now it was time for the REAL present. We told him briefly what it was, and his first reaction was "Oh my GOD! Is it hand made?? OHHHHH - BLESS you!" He wanted to open it there and then and very carefully unwrapped the tissue, his expression when he saw it was priceless. He looked gob smacked and was clearly very, very touched by the thought behind it. We explained the squares were from different fans and he read each gift tag and was so impressed with one of them that he actually LICKED it!! He said no-one had ever done anything like that for him before, it was the nicest thing that anyone had ever given him, and that he'd be moving his 17 teddy bears "…No wonder I'm still single!" and putting it on his bed. He commented on each patch, stroking and admiring and fiddling with little attachments - just how we thought he'd be actually! He compared pressie sizes to Tess's mug and said, "Anyone that says bigger is not better is wrong!" Sue was relieved at all this as she'd never made a cushion before and one of the buttons was (despite measuring loads!) a different distance from the others. Luckily though he didn't immediately whip out his tape measure and Brian's lovely reaction sent all such daft worries out of the window.…he really was completely chuffed, and simply could not stop saying thank you.

Christine and Sue were the closest and were very lucky to get a kiss and a hug before Brian pulled up a chair and sat down to chat. After Tess had posed for a few pictures (including the official CD:uk mag photographer) and joined Brian in cooing over his present she left us but Brian, stayed to chat some more. He happily signed autographs and posed for pictures despite signs up everywhere saying no "autograph hunting or flash photography". We were later horrified when we pooled all our pics and put them in the gallery - there were so many the poor guy must have been dizzy!!

We asked about his recent holiday and he mentioned SN:tv the Australian version of SM:tv and that the flight back had taken 27 hours. Then we asked about the show but he said he hadn't been over pleased with it. He also mentioned the postbag dance was still giving him problems despite loads of practice, although as he said he has nooooo problems dancing in clubs.

Later he mentioned that he and Tony (Lib X) had got Puppy Love stuck in their heads all morning and had been singing it non stop. We told him that we'd love to see him dancing with Lib X to "Just a little bit" and he said funny enough they would be on again soon and guess what?…. he did….well kind of!

We also told him he'd been the subject of conversations in the celeb BB house where they'd been very complimentary about him and his presenting skills. When he heard that they'd said he was the only person from BB with any real talent he said "Oh, I don't think so - I've just been really, really lucky". Chris mentioned one of her favourite appearances was when Brian had been on the Lyrics Board. He seemed shocked (and slightly embarrassed) that we'd seen it, so we explained that Helen had helped us out by sending us a tape, and he said very sarcastically through gritted teeth "Thanks Helen!!!" He said he'd done the show mainly because his Mum was such a big fan and had watched it "like, for EVER!" He said he'd relied heavily on the autocue for some of the songs though, which wasn't that surprising since he seemed to know songs that were hits long before he was born!

Soon after, Brian wished us all a safe journey home and a Merry Christmas and he left the studio. Conor came out to say thank you for his present and apologised that he hadn't had time for a proper chat but the morning had been very hectic. Brian chatted outside for a while with Liz (Atomic Kitten) as he waited for his car and then he was gone. And we were still in shock. "Was that really Brian, the subject of our endless nights in chat, making himself comfy to catch up with some old mates?" "Sitting himself down and chattering away nineteen to the dozen, while holding the cushion a million different ways for yet another photo?" There's nothing at all starry about Brian, he makes you feel right at home chatting (unless of course you're Nora and can't say a word! Sigh!) and if it's possible he's even more lovely and natural in person than he appears on TV. He must have been exhausted and jet-lagged but was politeness itself and so friendly, mischievous and warm. Such a sweetheart - and don't ever let anyone tell you otherwise.

After a pub lunch Sue went home first. A six-hour train journey that should have taken 2 (…don't get her started!), but as she was still on cloud 9 she didn't really mind and was still in a great mood when she got home to a barrage of questions from her sons who had heard Brian down her mobile. "Mum did you speak to Brian?!!"

Nicolette, Christine, Nora and Ruth stayed on another day for a show, a meal and some sightseeing, (a very wet river trip and a flight in the London Eye) and then made their happy way home too!!



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