So, one day you wake up, shake the dust of Rathangan, Co Kildare off your boots, and head for a glamorous life in the sky. Well, Ryanair, anyway. But you know there’s something better out there for you. And it turns out you’re right: you win the second Big Brother, just as the concept is finding its feet. This was in 2001, and you’ve stayed in the public eye ever since. So, seven years after the big splash, what do you do?
If you're Brian Dowling, you choose to star in a panto on home soil. And don't scoff -- it's dead canny.
What better way to make your way to the stage than through something that is funny, yet also forgiving? As Dowling explains: "You make mistakes ... if someone asks you a question in the show, you kind of know what the answer is." He rolls his eyes. "I mean, I'm Captain Hook, I want to kill Peter Pan, you can't go wrong!"
He's having fun, or so it appears to an outsider's eyes. He's quick to acknowledge as much, but also frank about how seriously everyone is taking it. "I've never worked this hard! I've compared it to working at Ryanair for four years, it's that kind of stress and intensity. And it's not just me, it's the whole cast. If I get one line wrong, it fucks up everybody else."
He seems to enjoy the camaraderie that goes with the hard graft, and the production has been blessedly free of attitude and airs. "So far, so good. If anybody would have been the diva, it would have been me, and I've not been. They're expecting it, but it's not happening!"