Inside Big Brother’s Brian Dowling’s life from TV husband to sister’s surrogacy

Big Bother Shopping List Challenge: Brian Dowling vs. the Bother Brain

It is now twenty-two years since Brian Dowling made his debut as a Big Brother housemate in the second series which he went on to win but his name is still synonymous with the show.

Since his initial appearance, which saw him take over half the public votes, he has forged a successful media career. He presented shows such as SMTV Live and Brian’s Boyfriends for ITV.

In 2010 he was crowned the Ultimate Big Brother housemate when he returned to compete in an all-star edition, which marked the final ever Big Brother series on Channel 4.

In 2020 Brian took part in Dancing With The Stars Ireland and on 6 February 2020, he and Kai Widdrington, who is now a professional dancer on Strictly Come Dancing, were announced as the first male same-sex dance partners on the show during switch-up week.

Ironically Brian’s husband Arthur Gourounlian, was confirmed as a new judge on the Irish version of the dance show in 2021.

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Brian married the Armenian dancer, choreographer and reality TV judge in 2015 in a lavish ceremony in Powerscourt in Ireland surrounded by their celebrity friends including Louis Walsh, Vernon Kay and Tess Daly.

Although the couple first met in 2002 in a club it wasn’t all plain sailing. Brian initially told Arthur he worked in PR and was skeptical when Arthur confirmed he is a dancer.

The 43-year-old has had a successful career as a backup dancer for musicians including, Girls Aloud, Beyoncé, Pink, Pussycat Dolls, Bananarama, Will Young, Kylie Minogue and Cheryl.

The pair dated on and off for four and a half years which, Arthur told radio presenter Ryan Tubridy on his RTÉ Radio 1 show last year, was down to them being so young, with so much happening in both of their lives. This eventually led to a long-term split.

“I just arrived in the UK. I wanted to make my own mark and then we split up for five years, a lot of people don’t know that,” he said. “At the time I remember he was so famous, he was loving life. We got back together in 2011 and it was the best thing we ever did,” he said.

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The couple are now proud parents to their daughter Blake Maria Rose Dowling Gourounlian, who was born at the National Maternity Hospital in Dublin on September 1 last year.

Brian’s younger sister Aoife acted as the couple’s surrogate and when they knew everything was safe Brian posted the exciting news on his Instagram, saying: “It COMPLETELY FILLS OUR HEARTS @gourounlian to be able to reveal we are PREGNANT & due to our BEAUTIFUL bundle of joy later this year.” (sic)

The couple made a one-off documentary for RTÉ about their journey to parenthood called Brian and Arthur’s Very Modern Family.

“For us, it was sharing what happens when Instagram stops. We always keep our Instagram quite positive and fun and light, and I think what the documentary does is it kind of goes behind the scenes a bit more,” he told

“How vulnerable we felt, the legality of it all. We were going through surrogacy when there were no regulations, it wasn’t legal or illegal in that sense.

“I think we wanted to show people that it’s not been plain sailing, that it has been a struggle.”

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