It’s 20 years since he released the song ‘Mysterious Girl’. Peter Andre talked to Neil Hudson about fame, fortune and a penchant for wearing slippers...
Peter Andre used to be like Marmite, in that you either loved him or you loathed him. Mostly, it was women who loved him, principally because he flipped the tables on the social norm of females appearing semi-naked on TV and instead dared to get his kit off. Men, on the other hand, loathed him for the same reason, albeit with a grudging jealousy for a set of abs which looked like they’d been spray painted on. Of course, they hadn’t and that was the problem.
These days, however, it’s fair to say the nation mostly likes ‘Our Pete’. Twenty years after the release of his single Mysterious Girl, he’s almost reached national treasure status.
The fact he’s still very much in the limelight is something which is not lost on the 42-year-old (he turns 43 later this month).
When I catch up with him, he is preparing for his forthcoming self-titled tour, Peter Andre, which begins on February 29 and arrives at Leeds First Direct Arena on March 9.
“I’m extremely grateful for where I am,” he tells me in thoroughly earnest tones. “I’m very much aware that this business can spit me out tomorrow. It’s a very fickle industry and you never know how long it’s going to last.”
While he may be on a high at the moment, which a forthcoming tour and a new album, Come Fly With Me (released in October last year), he’s already planning ahead. He now has a growing chain of coffee shops, under the name NY coffee club and later this year he will open his first restaurant.
Recently married to doctor Emily MacDonagh, with whom he has a daughter named Amelia (born in January 2014), he’s determined to create a name for himself outside show business.
“I already have a coffee chain with shops and carts, which we sent to the large festivals and we are looking at opening a chain of restaurants this year. I’m a good cook but I won’t say I’m a chef, we want to hire the right people. This year we will open two or three, all over the country. I hope in Leeds eventually. It’s something I want to build something for my family outside the industry, because I don’t know how long it’s going to last.”
Peter was discovered 25 years ago on Australia’s New Faces talent show, the equivalent of Britain’s Got Talent today.
“I went on New Faces and I was offered a recording deal live on air, it was the first time they had ever done that live on TV. It was life changing and I was nervous at the time thinking, wow, does this man know what he’s done?
“Occasionally I still ring him in Australia to say thanks.”
Born in London, he moved to Australia aged six and describes his upbringing as “very strict.” Years later, he would meet and befriend Robin Gibb, from the Bee Gees, who also moved to Australia, playing their first gig at the Bavarian Steak House, which Peter recalls: “I used to ride past it every day on my bike. When he told me that I was amazed.
“My parents were very strict Christians, they were Jehovah’s Witnesses, I was also a Witness when I was a lot younger, I used to go to the meetings, I used to love it but at the same time we were very sheltered from a lot of things. We were also protected quite a lot.
“I still have that sense of you have to be grateful for what you have and it’s something I try to instil in my children.”
Still, his parents’ strict code of conduct did not prevent them listening to the likes of Frank Sinatra and Sammy Davis Jnr and it’s something which clearly had a lasting effect on him.
“I grew up listening to all that stuff, the first album I ever bought was Michael Jackson’s Off the Wall, I was so excited, I played it over and over again and my dad was like, ‘Who are you listening to? What is this music?’ That led me to Stevie Wonder and then to motown. So it was strange, growing up where I did and my parents being so strict and also listening to the Rat Pack - this is what I ended up listening to. I would have been about 11 or 12 at the time and I just knew I wanted to do something like that.”
You could say that, at 42, he’s finally hit his stride - talking to him about what he does in his spare time, it seems there’s no danger of him suddenly having a celebrity flip-out.
“The minute I come home - and I’m showing my age here - I put my robe on, my slippers, I cook food, life is as absolute as normal as you could imagine when I come home. We do school runs, life runs as normal as possible and then when you go to work, you go to work. I love being able to have that sense of normality.
“When I get a day off, it’s all family, we go to swimming pools or the cinema. Because I started young, I’ve had a lot of my freedom early on... I’ve gone past the stage where I will go off the rails.”
Certainly, you could say he’s enjoying the moment and looking forward to coming to Leeds but does he still get pre-show nerves?
“I don’t get nervous on tour, because I know what I’m doing and it’s my thing, I have the band and it’s all good. But if you compare that to Strictly, I was the most nervous I have ever been. It was totally nerve-wracking, because you are scared of looking silly and of letting people down.
“This show is going to be fantastic, I’m going right back to the start, 25 years ago, then a lot of classics like Queens, Guns and Roses, Prince, James Brown.
“I will be singing Mysterious Girl but it will be a swing version, it’s not going to be what people expect but I guarantee it will be a great night. When you have the whole live band behind you, it gives you an excuse to perform the heck out of it.”
Peter Andre will be appearing at Leeds Arena on March 9.
The Yorkshire Evening Post has teamed up with Peter Andre’s management team to give our readers the chance to win complimentary tickets to see him when he appears at the Leeds First Direct Arena on March 9.
To be in with a chance of winning a pair of tickets, please send your name, address and telephone via email to email@example.com
Please include PETER ANDRE TICKET COMPETITION in the subject box.
Winners will be drawn at random after midnight on Sunday February 6. Good luck.