Brian Patrick Robert Dowling (born 13 June 1978) is an Irish television presenter and former reality television contestant who rose to fame after being crowned the winner of the second series of UK reality show Big Brother in 2001. He also won Ultimate Big Brother in 2010. In 2007, he came third in Hell's Kitchen and in 2008 he was runner-up in the Irish reality television series Fáilte Towers. Dowling guest-presented Live from Studio Five alongside Kate Walsh from 2010 until its cancellation in February 2011.
On 22 July 2011, it was confirmed that Dowling would become the new host of Big Brother upon its transfer to Channel 5, replacing Davina McCall. After presenting two editions of Big Brother and four editions of Celebrity Big Brother, Channel 5 confirmed on 2 April 2013 that Dowling was to be replaced by Emma Willis. Dowling exited the show with the finale of the eleventh series of Celebrity Big Brother on 25 January 2013.
Dowling became the first ever openly gay children's TV presenter in the United Kingdom when he began presenting SMTV Live in 2002.
Dowling was born in Rathangan, County Kildare, Ireland. Before he entered the public eye, he trained as a holiday rep and air steward, working as a flight attendant for Ryanair. He came out as gay to his parents two weeks before appearing in Big Brother in 2001.
He was the eventual winner of the series, beating Helen Adams in the final and polling 4,231,660 votes (58%) out of a total 7,255,094. He has been voted favourite ever Big Brother housemate in the UK on several occasions. In 2010, Brian returned to compete in the final Big Brother on Channel 4 and he became the Ultimate Big Brother Housemate. Brian spent a total of 82 days in the Big Brother house, 64 for his original stay and later 18 days for Ultimate Big Brother. He also holds a record for never being placed up for eviction during his two stays in the Big Brother house.
Dowling followed his Big Brother success by presenting SMTV Live, becoming the first openly gay children's television presenter. He also presented his own show on ITV, Brian's Boyfriends, as well as narrating the Channel 4 reality show The Salon.
In 2002, Brian co-hosted the Elle Style Awards with BBC Radio 1 presenter Jo Whiley. In 2003 he joined Duncan James and Tara Palmer-Tomkinson in presenting the NOW Magazine Style Awards, where he also won the award for Most Stylish UK TV Personality."
Dowling regularly stood in for Liz Bonnin on LivingTV's Celebrity Extra show in 2004. He has also voiced numerous adverts and TV series and has presented the companion show to I'm Famous and Frightened!.
In July 2005, Dowling fronted the Party in the Park concert in Leeds with Coronation Street's Nikki Sanderson. He then went on to front the Irish O2 in the Park concert, in Phoenix Park, Dublin, alongside Fran Cosgrave and Caroline Morahan in August 2005.
Dowling hosted a showbiz slot on Vernon Kay's BBC Radio 1 Saturday morning show from 9 October 2004 to September 2006.
In October 2005, Dowling presented a series of special Christmas features as part of Sky Digital's interactive platform programming, titled Christmas Wrapped Up, in which he reviewed and helped to promote products that were available for purchase in the shopping areas of Sky Digital's Sky Active service.
Dowling was reintroduced as a presenter on ITV in March 2006 when the network launched its ITV Play subsidiary. Along with six others, Dowling was signed up as a presenter of the network's interactive gamble based telephone show The Mint. The game show ran till 2007.
In October 2007, Dowling and his family appeared on All Star Family Fortunes, where they won £4,660 for charity. During the final round "Big Money", Dowling was asked "Name a type of bean.", and after saying, "baked bean", which had already been given, he was asked for another answer, to which he exclaimed "lesbian!". When his answer came up on the board, it was displayed as "Les Bean".
Dowling was a contestant in the ITV reality series Hell's Kitchen during September 2007, in which he competed against other celebrities to impress celebrity chef Marco Pierre White. Dowling finished in third place. Whilst participating, he had numerous clashes with fellow contestant Jim Davidson because of what Dowling interpreted as Davidson's homophobic slurs. Davidson once asked Dowling, "Are you on our side?" when referring to whether or not he would be participating for the boys or girls team. Davidson called him a "shirt-lifter" in front of him, and was constantly asking if Dowling would like to try on one of "John Virgo's lovely waistcoats", which Davidson owns. Davidson was subsequently asked to leave the show as a contestant due to what ITV described as "unacceptable remarks" against Dowling. Dowling's next job was as the presenter of Backstage at the Big Top, a spin-off show of the second series of Sky1's Cirque de Celebrité.
Following on from this, in August 2008, Dowling was a contestant in the Irish reality television show, Fáilte Towers, where he and 12 other celebrities had to take on the roles of hotel staff. He came second to John Creedon. He then went on to become a contestant on TV3's Celebrity Salon, in which he and several other Irish celebrities (Pippa O'Connor, Leigh Arnold, Virginia Macari, Celia Holman Lee and Breffny Morgan) learn the tools of the beauty trade. Celebrity Salon began airing on Monday 7 June 2010. Tasks included giving facials, waxing, performing cosmetic surgery, hairdressing and styling.
He also appeared in a special episode of Come Dine with Me, alongside three other previous winners of Big Brother and was declared the winner. Dowling was crowned Ultimate Big Brother housemate on 10 September 2010 at the end of the Ultimate Big Brother series that saw the end of Big Brother's transmission on Channel 4. Following this he has appeared as co-host alongside Katherine Lynch on the RTÉ2 series Wagons Den.
On 22 July 2011, after months of speculation, it was officially confirmed that Dowling would become the new presenter of the revived series of Big Brother on Channel 5. He presented four celebrity series in August/September 2011, January 2012, August/September 2012 and January 2013, and two series of the main show in 2011 and 2012.
Dowling was replaced as presenter of Big Brother by Emma Willis for Series 14, which started in June 2013. Dowling has also had numerous appearances on This Morning, presenting segments on the show.
Since 2014, Dowling has presented the TV3 game show Sitting on a Fortune in Ireland.
Dowling has appeared in popular Irish Christmas pantomimes, at Dublin's Tivoli Theatre. In December 2008 – January 2009, he starred as the evil Captain Hook in Anthem Productions' presentation of Peter Pan. Since then, Dowling has had the new character "Bridie" created for him, appearing in 2009's Cinderella and 2010's Beauty and the Beast.