A generation of kids grew up with Andi Peters on the box and now he’s back presenting his first game show. Keeley Bolger sets about quizzing the 90s icon
One of the goals Andi Peters sets for himself at the beginning of every shoot, voice-over or production job he undertakes, is that colleagues will walk away feeling pleased to have worked with him.
“Hopefully they’ll say I’m a pleasure to work with because, in television, it’s all about people,” explains Peters, who’s worked in TV since he was 18, racking up a long list of roles, from presenter of flagship Saturday morning children’s series Live & Kicking to commissioning editor of youth programmes at Channel 4 and the executive producer of Top Of The Pops, following a stint in the BBC Broom Cupboard alongside Edd the Duck.
“I would never want to be the person who someone said, ‘Oh no, he’s an idiot’,” says the 43-year-old.
Judging by the number of enthusiastic tweets he received after posting a picture of himself with Live & Kicking co-presenter Emma Forbes (“I think it would be a brilliant casting to put me and Emma on The One Show”), popularity isn’t an issue.
Modestly, he brushes off the interest in his Twitter photos, saying that “nostalgia is going through a huge phase at the moment” - but he does concede that for many of today’s 20 and 30-somethings, he had a starring role in their youth.
“Every day, someone will come up to me and say, ‘Oh my God, you were my childhood’, and that’s a great thing to hear,” he says.
The presenter, who in recent years has competed in Dancing On Ice and Celebrity MasterChef, is pleased his presence reflected the diversity of British society.
“If you think about it, in 1989, I was on television every day of the week and there will have been a generation of children who grew up watching a black man on TV entertaining them. There was a generation of kids growing up saying, ‘Yeah, we do live in a multicultural society’,” he notes.
And not only kids tuned in. In his final link before Neighbours, he’d have 12-million viewers.
“That’s what I think has given me this broad appeal, because I’d have grannies, young people, all of them tuning in to watch Neighbours at 5.30pm.”
He believes television’s become less diverse since those heady days in the Broom Cupboard.
“There aren’t as many black faces on television [now]. How have we gone backwards?” he asks. “Television needs to reflect the society to which we broadcast.
“If the best person is always getting the job, and that’s how TV looks, then so be it,” he adds. “I only ever want to be on television because I’m good at presenting; I wouldn’t want to be on TV for any other reason.”
Peters will soon be back on screens with Ejector Seat, his first ever quiz show and a programme that marks his first big presenting role in eight years.
The show sees six contestants take their place in imposing ‘ejector seats’, each at the top of a moving track that leads back towards ‘the edge’.
Once seated, they must answer general knowledge questions correctly to avoid being ejected from their chair and remain in with a chance of winning £10,000.
“All the contestants said it wasn’t that they were hard questions, but more that when you’re moving backwards, your brain can’t compute,” he reveals, laughing. “I loved it, but then I didn’t have to be a contestant!”
While he reckons his general knowledge would let him down (although he might be “OK” at any TV and pop trivia), he does enjoy imparting pearls of wisdom to eager young people.
“I’m always happy to give advice, always happy. Because you can give somebody a chance,” says London-born Peters, who’s also an ambassador for The Prince’s Trust. “Certainly, television isn’t an easy industry to enter, but you’ve got to start somewhere.”
His own big break came after working on an in-store radio station in his teens. Even then, he had a strong sense of direction.
“I’m quite a determined person so I never gave up,” he says.
“I knew what I wanted to do and did it. Nowadays, it’s easy to give up, because you send an email to somebody, they don’t reply and you leave it, but in my day, I would constantly write letters. The key is to never give up.”
One of the people Peters has helped along the way is James ‘Kenzie’ MacKenzie, along with the other members of Noughties teen boy band Blazin’ Squad.
When they were starting out, he says he took on a big brotherly role, even if they weren’t always keen to hear what he had to say.
“The only way I could keep their attention was by wearing different trainers. They were fascinated and wouldn’t concentrate until I’d told them about them,” Peters recalls, laughing.
“But Kenzie’s a great lad, very receptive and it’s great to know you can have that effect on people.”
The pair recently crossed paths when Kenzie appeared on ITV2’s The Big Reunion, a series which follows the fortunes of ex-pop stars who flourished in the Nineties and Noughties but have since fallen off the radar. Peters, who does the voice-over for the show, says it would never be his place to be “sarcastic”.
“I try to be funny and laugh along with the situation, not at the people. I never want to insult the people,” he says. “Your luck can be up one day and down the next, so who am I to point the finger?”
Ejector Seat starts on ITV on Monday, April 28