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Why gays hate me! TV Quick 24-30th May 2003

by Clair Woodward

Brian Dowling enters the room with exactly the puppyish enthusiasm you'd expect from the presenter of hyperactive kids' show SM:tv Live.

And he looks great too - funky retro sportswear, great hair and twinkly eyes.

It's no wonder that ITV1 have snapped him up for his first foray into grown-up TV since winning the second Big Brother in 2001. Brian's Boyfriends will see the cute Irishman solve the boyfriend problems of women who've written in to the show to see if he can cure their men's shortcomings, such as being a bad dancer or being rude.

But sadly, Brian, who came out as gay to his mum just two days before entering the Big Brother house, doesn't have a boyfriend of his own at the moment, and press speculation over who he's dating is starting to get to him.

'It was bad enough when a magazine said I was minging three weeks on the trot for wearing the wrong clothes, and when one writer kept accusing me of being a talentless dweeb - it's all so personal,' he says.

'But the worst thing is when the papers say you've got a boyfriend when you haven't. That more hurtful than anything.'

'I'm not seeing anyone at the moment. The closest I've got recently was when I did Celebrity Streetmate for Comic Relief and met a model called Pablo. He was nice, but I haven't seen him again.'

But although he might not have a special someone right now, 24-year-old Brian is well aware that he's loved by the nation. 'I came from being a steward on Ryanair to winning Big Brother in nine weeks, and from being a nobody to having everyone know my name.

'The great thing about my career as a TV presenter is that I came into it because of the public - all the people who picked up the phone and voted for me to win Big Brother. People are always really nice to me, which is great.'

'In public, I get more hassle from gay people, who think I've got this "Who does he think he is?" attitude. But I don't think I'm anyone special, I'm just very lucky - believe me. I don't think I'm Brian Lopez!

'I know that if I wasn't any good at the job, I wouldn't have lasted five minutes. But it still feels weird sometimes - I wake up and think I'm still going to be in the Big Brother house and the time since I won the show will all have been a dream.'

Brian's really excited about hosting Brian's Boyfriends, especially as it's genuinely his own show. 'It's unlike SM:tv, where I was following in the footsteps of Ant and Dec, which was daunting. But my co-host Tess Daly and I have been doing the best we possibly can, and it was a real ego boost to win a BAFTA award for the show in November after I'd been on it for a year.'

He'll be on SM:tv Live while presenting Brian's Boyfriends -he's committed to the show until August - and says he's happy to host shows for kids and adults and see what happens. He's still waiting to hear if SM:tv Live will be recommissioned by ITV in September.

'But whatever happens,' he says, 'I haven't been in touch with Ryanair about getting my old job back!'

The format of Brian's Boyfriends, where he surprises a boyfriend who's got three issues that need addressing, is perfect for him. 'Being an air steward means you're always listening to problems and dealing with them, so I've always been good at giving advice.'

'We've got a guy who can't dance, so we'll be doing something with the Cheeky Girls to help him improve. But it's not all really frivolous - one guy wants to be an English teacher, so we've sent him to a dialogue coach. It was funny to do, but the girls obviously think their men's problems need solving, so we need to be seen to be doing something useful for them.'

Although he's becoming a bigger and bigger celebrity, Brian's aware that he can't let stardom go to his head.

'You have to make time to switch off,' he explains. 'When I do SM:tv, the stylist buys my "uniform" for the show, but when I'm home, I'm just Brian, I get a car for work but normally I get the Tube, do normal things.

'I know my friends would hate it if I started acting like a star, and i try to put myself in their shoes. Everyone gets perks from a job like this, but I don't use the fact that I'm on telly to jump queues.'

'If I'm in a line with friends at a club and I'm called up, then fine, but they all have to come with me. The thing is, you don't want to p*** people off, as you don't know when it's all going to end.'

But the way Brian's career is going that day looks like it's going to be a very long time in coming.

17 Jul 2003 by admin

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