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couples chat Brian Dowling and hubby Arthur open up about adopting a child, podcasting and living in Ireland

We are truly each other’s partner in crime,” says celebrity choreographer and dancer Arthur Gourounlian.

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Brian Dowling and hubby Arthur Gourounlian toast Christmas; Arthur wears: Blue blazer, €189, white shirt, €79.95, trousers, €89.95, all Best, Louis Copeland shoes, €329; Brian wears: Blazer, €135, trousers, €110, both M&S, Best polo shirt, €89.95, Louis Copeland shoes, €329.

Brian Dowling and hubby Arthur Gourounlian toast Christmas; Arthur wears: Blue blazer, €189, white shirt, €79.95, trousers, €89.95, all Best, Louis Copeland shoes, €329; Brian wears: Blazer, €135, trousers, €110, both M&S, Best polo shirt, €89.95, Louis Copeland shoes, €329.

Arthur wears: M&S Paisley print pyjamas, €42; Brian wears: Navy pyjamas, €42, navy slippers, ¤32, both M&S

Arthur wears: M&S Paisley print pyjamas, €42; Brian wears: Navy pyjamas, €42, navy slippers, ¤32, both M&S

Arthur wears: Jacket, €59.99, T-shirt, €14.99, shoes, €22.99, all H&M Brian wears: Jacket, €59.99, jumper, €34.99, both H&M, Laoise Carey Studio scarf, €90, Louis Copeland trousers, €279

Arthur wears: Jacket, €59.99, T-shirt, €14.99, shoes, €22.99, all H&M Brian wears: Jacket, €59.99, jumper, €34.99, both H&M, Laoise Carey Studio scarf, €90, Louis Copeland trousers, €279

In bed with Brian Dowling and Arthur Gourounlian on set of our Christmas cover shoot on the palatial grounds of The K Club

In bed with Brian Dowling and Arthur Gourounlian on set of our Christmas cover shoot on the palatial grounds of The K Club

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Brian Dowling and hubby Arthur Gourounlian toast Christmas; Arthur wears: Blue blazer, €189, white shirt, €79.95, trousers, €89.95, all Best, Louis Copeland shoes, €329; Brian wears: Blazer, €135, trousers, €110, both M&S, Best polo shirt, €89.95, Louis Copeland shoes, €329.

The Sunday World Magazine+ is in bed with Brian Dowling and Arthur Gourounlian on set of our Christmas cover shoot on the palatial grounds of The K Club — or as good as.

Perched on a sprawling king-sized bed in luxurious silk pyjamas, the effervescent couple are, as always, on form as they propel our prop gift through the air on cue for the cameraman

Their comic timing is impeccable, but beneath that perfectly-preened reality TV veneer is a depth and tenderness that solidifies their seven-year marriage.

“We are truly each other’s partner in crime,” smiles celebrity choreographer and dancer Arthur.

“Laughing every day is the best thing I could wish for in a partner and with Brian I have that every day.

"We never get bored; even when we fight, he will do these silly things two minutes later and make me laugh and that is an amazing thing.

“Of course, he talks a lot too, he is always talking.”

Raising his eyebrows good-humouredly, Brian interjects.

“No relationship is perfect and anyone who tells you that their relationship doesn’t take work is full of crap. It takes sacrifice, patience and courage. You also have to respect each other.

“There are very few people that can tell me to ‘Shut the f**k up’ — my mother was one of them and then there’s Arthur and my sisters.

“Arthur has this amazing quality to see the positive in everything. He makes me want to be a better person. We both support each other in everything we do.”

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Arthur wears: M&S Paisley print pyjamas, €42; Brian wears: Navy pyjamas, €42, navy slippers, ¤32, both M&S

Arthur wears: M&S Paisley print pyjamas, €42; Brian wears: Navy pyjamas, €42, navy slippers, ¤32, both M&S

Arthur wears: M&S Paisley print pyjamas, €42; Brian wears: Navy pyjamas, €42, navy slippers, ¤32, both M&S

Their chart-topping podcast, Death Becomes Him, which was inspired by the passing of the Big Brother star’s beloved mum, Rosie, is testament to this.

The matriarch passed away suddenly in 2018 aged 61, a loss that the 43-year-old feels keenly every day.

“Arthur was telling me I needed to do a podcast for years and I said, ‘How dare you, I am a television host’,” he says, raising his hand towards his forehead in mock horror.

“We could have never anticipated the reaction the podcast had. Arthur knows how I want to tell a story and he edits it perfectly. He is with me every step of the way.

“If I wasn’t able to talk about my feelings I probably wouldn’t be here today and be the version of who I am. It is dreadful when you go through something like that, it is life-altering and life-changing.

“It is depressing as hell when you lose someone that you adore and sometimes you think, ‘How am I going to survive?’ And then the fighting spirit kicks in.”

As cathartic and freeing as it has been to ignite the conversation around loss and grief across the nation, it was a step the TV presenter almost never took.

Brian adds: “I have come from Big Brother so I was afraid to be vulnerable in case people didn’t want to work with me.

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Arthur wears: Jacket, €59.99, T-shirt, €14.99, shoes, €22.99, all H&M Brian wears: Jacket, €59.99, jumper, €34.99, both H&M, Laoise Carey Studio scarf, €90, Louis Copeland trousers, €279

Arthur wears: Jacket, €59.99, T-shirt, €14.99, shoes, €22.99, all H&M Brian wears: Jacket, €59.99, jumper, €34.99, both H&M, Laoise Carey Studio scarf, €90, Louis Copeland trousers, €279

Arthur wears: Jacket, €59.99, T-shirt, €14.99, shoes, €22.99, all H&M Brian wears: Jacket, €59.99, jumper, €34.99, both H&M, Laoise Carey Studio scarf, €90, Louis Copeland trousers, €279

“I was afraid people would think he is having a nervous breakdown and we can’t hire him.

“I think people now see me as a person and not just someone who was on reality TV. I danced around naked on telly in 2001 and now here I am 20 years later and I still have a career.”

Handing over the microphone, it’s now Arthur’s turn to make a song and dance on the small screen.

The Armenian is about to join Loraine Barry and Brian Redmond on the judging panel of entertainment juggernaut Dancing With The Stars.

The RTÉ series was forced to take a hiatus earlier this year due to Covid-19, but will be back in January with presenters Nicky Byrne and Jennifer Zamparelli at the helm.

And multi-talented international choreographer Arthur, who has worked with the likes of Cheryl, Kylie Minogue and The Pussycat Dolls will replace popular judge Julian Benson.

“In May 2004 I went on Strictly performing with Emma Bunton and now all these years later I am joining Dancing With The Stars,” he beams.

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In bed with Brian Dowling and Arthur Gourounlian on set of our Christmas cover shoot on the palatial grounds of The K Club

In bed with Brian Dowling and Arthur Gourounlian on set of our Christmas cover shoot on the palatial grounds of The K Club

In bed with Brian Dowling and Arthur Gourounlian on set of our Christmas cover shoot on the palatial grounds of The K Club

“I am a positive person so I will be your best friend but I will say the good and the bad to push you to go forward.”

And Brian, who donned his dancing shoes on last year’s show, will naturally be his husband’s biggest cheerleader.

“Arthur has danced and toured the world with anyone you can think of and if he critiques you it isn’t for entertainment purposes, it’s because he wants you to progress,” he says.

“I do laugh when I think Arthur is going to be on the biggest show on TV. I keep saying to him, ‘Bring the paddles home’.

“I will go to the first show but I think I will watch it on TV after that and take the piss out of him.

“There were rumblings that we would be on the same year. But that wouldn’t have worked, ‘You gave me a six, what?’ Can you imagine?

“He knows what he is doing and he is so passionate.”

It seems fortuitous that Covid forced the couple home after they made the decision to relocate to America.

“Ireland was always going to be long-term for us when it came to starting a family,” reveals Brian. “In a way, Covid forced us home years earlier than what we had planned.

“I feel like my mum guided us home because she didn’t like the idea of us being apart and living in different countries. At one point in our relationship we would go six weeks without seeing each other because of work commitments.”

For Arthur, putting down roots in his adopted home has been an easy decision.

“I fell in love with Ireland,” smiles the charismatic 41-year-old.

“Armenians and Irish people are so similar, ‘Let’s sit down and eat and have tea and talk.’”

This Christmas, the celebrity couple have but one wish — and that’s to start their own family.

“Adoption is so tricky and we realised we would age out and surrogacy is very complicated in Ireland. I rang up somewhere looking for advice and they were so dismissive,” shares Brian.

“Regardless of whether you are gay or straight, so many people experience fertility issues. What makes it harder is that we just don’t have the right equipment.

“It is draining and it is an emotional rollercoaster,” he admits. “I think in Ireland we need to do better in terms of fertility advice and surrogacy.

“We are looking forward to a Christmas soon where we can hopefully have Santa in our house. That would be magic.”

HAIR: Aidan Darcy @aidandarchhair

MAKEUP: Suzanne Kavanagh @SuzanneKavanaghmakeup

STYLIST: Orla Dempsey @thatsorlatoyou

LOCATION: The K Club, Straffan, Co Kildare

PHOTOGRAPHY: Mark Condren

  • Death Becomes Him by BDG’s live nationwide ‘Talking is Therapy’ tour takes place from February 26 to April 17, 2022, with special appearances including a grief expert and medium. For tickets and more information see deathbecomeshimbybdg.com

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