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Brian ready to take Ultimate champion crown as BB finally draws to its close

Ryanair flight attendant-turned-TV presenter Brian Dowling is the bookies' favourite to take the Ultimate Big Brother crown tonight as Channel 4 waves goodbye to the long-running reality show.

Kildare native Dowling, who first entered the house in 2001, is expected to beat competition from other former contestants to be named the viewers' favourite.

Tonight's final will also mark the end of Big Brother's 10 years with Channel 4 which announced last summer it would not be renewing its deal with producers Endemol.

The reality show may not end, however, as media tycoon Richard Desmond said he was thinking of reviving it when he took over the Five TV network in July.

Bookies Paddy Power and William Hill both made Dowling the favourite to win, with odds of 2/9.

Paddy Power spokeswoman Sharon McHugh said: "Brian Dowling has really stood the test of time. Not only was he hugely popular in 2001 but judging by his odds it looks like he still appeals to the Big Brother masses."

Chantelle Houghton, who won Celebrity Big Brother in 2006 despite being the only housemate who wasn't actually famous, is second favourite.

Paddy Power offered odds for her of 7/2, while her ex-husband, Ordinary Boys singer Samuel Preston, is trailing on 33/1.


Housemates held a funeral service for the show yesterday and a group of 18 former housemates, led by this summer's winning housemate, Josie Gibson, and first series winner Craig Phillips, have recorded a video miming to Andrea Bocelli and Sarah Brightman's Time To Say Goodbye. The video, which also includes footage of the late Jade Goody, will be screened on E4 today at 6pm.