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

Following a successful guest presenter spot on SM:tv in December 2001, the 5th January 2002 saw Brian’s first appearance as a fully-fledged co-presenter on the show.

His first appearance was a somewhat low-key affair, with the spotlight being given to another new starter, James Redmond. Brian and Tess Daly were introduced as co-presenters without the fanfare given to James, but their effervescent charm and natural rapport with the audience, young and old, ensured that they were not sidelined for long.

By the time of James Redmond’s sudden departure in March, Brian and Tess had proved themselves more than capable of filling Ant & Dec’s shoes. The show immediately following the dramatic sacking saw Brian and Tess take the reins firmly in both hands, and with a little help from Dane Bowers the 16th March show signalled the start of a fantastic new era for SM:tv. On Cat Deeley’s return the following week a wonderful chemistry between the three presenters started to grow, and it was Cat’s experience and warmth, which enabled Tess and Brian to build on their initial success.

Brian quickly proved to be an asset to the show. Brian’s Brain, in which he answered questions set by a child contestant, was an immediate hit with the viewers. He also made his mark in many of the sketches … who could forget Clinky the Trolley Dolly Android in SMTV2099, and Roger the Ambulance Man in Casually?

Brian’s friendly, personable (and dare I say cheeky!) style enchants the celebrities he interviews, none more so than Britney Spears who seemed beguiled by our little love, even when, during a belly-dancing demonstration, he ordered her to sit down while he carried on!

Among the other stars lucky enough to experience an audience with Brian were The Rock, Beyonce Knowles, Sir Michael Caine, Kirsten Dunst, Toby Maguire, Mike Myers, Will Young, and Bryan Adams.

Cat Deeley’s departure at the end of March saw former Steps stars H and Claire join the show. Fans of Brian expressed trepidation at the introduction of the hyperactive singer, and many predicted tension as Brian and H fought for the limelight. Thankfully, our fears were ungrounded, as the two appeared to immediately hit it off, and established a mischievous partnership in front of the cameras. The arrival of H and Claire brought more fantastic new sketches, such as Table Footballers Wives, and the hilarious Big Brother spoof, Big Bother. Both of these sketches gave Claire chance to shine, and show her marvellous comedy talents, but as usual it was Brian who stole the show!

Life at SM:tv hasn’t always been plain sailing for our Bri. He was staggered during Brian’s Brain in August 2002 to find that the contestants were none other than five of his six sisters! The prize for that week was unveiled and to his horror it was his beloved Christian Dior saddle bag, which he promptly lost. The star of the film Anita & Me, Chandeep Uppal famously turned the tables on him and demanded SHE be allowed to interview HIM, much to his embarrassment! Not forgetting the unfortunate incident during the “Busted or Custard” item, when a pie in the face led to poor Brian sporting a very fetching plaster on his cut forehead for the rest of the morning!

March 15th 2003 saw a major revamp for SM:tv, with a new set, a new title sequence, and thankfully for most of us, new advertisements from the sponsors, Walkers. Two fun new presenters were introduced at the same time, resulting in a host of new sketches and running gags for the show. Des Clarke, a 21 year old Scot with a fast-paced delivery and quirky presenting style burst onto our screens, accompanied by pretty Shavaughn Ruakere, previously a children’s TV presenter in her native New Zealand. This led to Brian and Tess taking a step back to allow the new presenters time to “bed in”, and also giving them time to concentrate on their new projects outside of SM:tv.

June 2003 brought a major bombshell with the news that Brian would be leaving SM:tv in August. Whilst happy for Brian to be moving on to pastures new, and enjoying his more adult TV appearances, all genuine fans were sad to see his time at SM:tv come to an end. It has been a joy to watch him develop as a presenter, from his first nervous links, to becoming the lynchpin of the show and taking everything in his stride - not to mention a guaranteed dose of Brian every Saturday morning for 50 weeks of the year! Conor Macanally and Blaze gave Brian the best possible grounding for his future career, both at SM:tv and his own record-breaking show, Brian's Boyfriends. Shortly after the shocking but not necessarily surprising news of Brian's departure, it was announced that SM:tv would end in December. "A source" at SM:tv told the Daily Star "Without Brian, it has no chance."

Just when we thought we were all prepared for the worst, the SM:tv website broke the stunning news that Brian was to leave SM:tv earlier than planned due to other commitments. So that was it, no time to prepare a farewell gift and wish him good luck, just a couple of days to email our good wishes before our Saturday morning treat came to an end!

July 5th saw Brian front his last SM:tv, amidst tears and sadness from presenters, celebrity guests and fans in the studio and at home. He was presented with a gold disc by Misteeq inscribed with the words “Brian you’re so so so Scandalous!!” He managed to keep his composure well during a montage of his best moments on SM:tv, and also throughout the messages from his celebrity friends, but when the music suddenly changed to Billy Joel’s “Just the way you are” it all became too much for Brian. He broke down into the most heart-rending sobs, sending fans all over the country reaching for the tissues!! How many of us would have given anything to be in Tess’ place at that moment, offering him a sympathetic shoulder?

So there it was. The End. Brian's time at SM:tv was over, and the future of the show looked uncertain. One thing, however, is certain, Brian can feel justifiably proud of his time at SM:tv. He took on an almost impossible task with very little experience, made the show his own, and succeeded in keeping the ratings on an even keel where many others would have failed. His natural rapport with everyone he meets, his humour, his sweetness and his sheer talent kept us enthralled for 19 months, and Saturday mornings would never be the same again.

SM:tv Live continued after Brian's final show with CITV stalwart Stephen Mulhern as the presenter. It appeared to be doing quite well, but soon the news came that it would not continue past December 2003. The final few weeks were devoted to SM:tv Gold, in which clips from old programmes were shown, and the final show on 27th December featured all the presenters performing various songs and sketches. Although a sad occasion, the general feel from die-hard fans of the show was that it was something of a damp squib. The overall feel was disjointed as the two sets of presenters never actually appeared all together on screen, and despite the presence of the much-missed Ant & Dec, the atmosphere was one of anti-climax rather than nostalgic celebration. The most emotional moment came right at the end, as a solitary figure was shown sweeping the studio floor, and turning out the lights. This rare glimpse of Conor McAnally (minus the trademark baseball cap and bike leathers!) provided a fitting end to a fantastic few years, followed by a poignant last shot of "SM:tv 1998 - 2003" spelled out in fireworks.

Goodbye SM:tv - we miss you!


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