Peter Andre knows how to forgive and forget.
He’s spent his life doing just that – from the bullies who tied him to a fence and threw stones at him to the teacher who made him face the wall as he didn’t want to see his ‘greasy wog’ face and the gang who attacked him with a knife in a nightclub.
Now he’s applying this same approach to Rebekah Vardy after her now infamous slur about his manhood, in which she described him as being ‘hung like a miniature chipolata’. The insult has dogged singer and reality TV star Peter ever since Rebekah first said it in 2004 in an interview about spending the night with him in which she claimed he had ‘the smallest trouser equipment I’ve ever seen’.
It was dredged up again in May in the Wagatha Christie libel trial between Rebekah and Coleen Rooney, the wives of former England footballers Jamie Vardy and Wayne Rooney. When Rebekah was asked if she respected people’s privacy, excerpts from the article were read out by Coleen’s barrister David Sherborne.
Even though Rebekah claimed the story was made up and she was ‘forced’ into doing the interview by her ex-husband Steve Clarke – which he denies – the spiteful comments were given a fresh airing.
Peter has insisted in the past that the opposite is true, while his ex-wife Katie Price has supported him, saying, ‘It’s the size of the Sky+ remote – the one with the grey bits on – that’s bigger than the normal remote.’
Rebekah Vardy insulted Peter Andre’s (pictured) manhood in an interview in 2004. It was dredged up again in May in the Wagatha Christie libel trial between Rebekah and Coleen Rooney
Today Peter can see the funny side. When I mention the ‘elephant in the room’ – a reference to his comment on Loose Women when he said, ‘Hang on, did I just say elephant? I think we should leave it right there…’ – he laughs.
But seriously, when I ask if anything good has come of the matter, he’s stumped for a moment before insisting he just wants to forgive and forget. ‘I don’t have any ill feelings towards anybody.
‘Honestly, I don’t. I’ll tell you why – because I’m not perfect. I’ve made mistakes. I’ve said and done things I’m not proud of.
‘Nobody’s perfect. I don’t dislike anybody but I do dislike things being brought up all the time. The reason I don’t talk about this is because it’s gone on for years and there’s nothing more to say. But I’m not holding onto any bitterness.’
Peter, 49, had no idea he would be mentioned in the case, which is expected to deliver a verdict soon, and he feels it was totally wrong, not least because it’s upsetting for his children who have to face awkward questions about it at school.
‘Now she’s gone to court and admitted that the story was made up and she did that because her ex-husband forced her to,’ he said on Instagram.
‘But put that aside and think how it would feel if I had said this about her anatomy and made up something very unflattering, there would be outrage, there would be absolute outrage.’
Peter, 49, (pictured) says that he is not bitter about the comments anymore and his dignity seems to have won him an even bigger fanbase
Rebekah’s admission that it was fabricated has clearly been a relief for Peter, and he now wants to put the whole sorry saga behind him. To that end he’s adamant he won’t be drawn further on the subject today.
His dignity seems to have won him an even bigger fan base than he already had, and those fans will be delighted that his reality show is making a comeback after ten years, before he launches a new touring show next year where every ticket holder will be given a unique souvenir in the form of an NFT (a digital code that acts as a certificate of ownership).
I went to see my parents in Australia for three months, but it turned into three years after I had a horrific breakdown
‘It’s 30 years since my first single and I want to celebrate that,’ he says. ‘These will be different shows.
‘We’re going to be spending time with the fans, doing a bit of music and some sketches – something completely new that I’ve never done before. It’s exciting.’
But first he’s planning to bring back his reality show. Peter was already a bona fide pop star when he met former glamour model Katie Price on I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here! in 2004.
Their relationship launched their reality series Katie & Peter – which ran for five years and charted their wedding in 2005 and the births and early lives of their children Junior and Princess Tiaamii. After their divorce in 2009 Peter launched his own show Peter Andre: My Life, which ran for ten series until 2013 when he quit abruptly following the death of his brother Andrew from kidney cancer.
Rebekah Vardy (pictured) claimed the story was made up and she was ‘forced’ into doing the interview by her ex-husband Steve Clarke
Now he’s ready to let the cameras back into his life with his wife of six years Emily, 32, Junior, now 17, and Princess, 15. His two children with Emily – Millie, eight, and Theo, five – will not be taking part.
‘We’re in talks with TV channels, and there might be a bit of a twist to make it more exciting, like the way Bradley Walsh and his son Barney went travelling together,’ says Peter, who’s currently starring in Grease: The Musical in London.
‘I stopped doing the show because I lost my brother. I couldn’t face it any more and it felt wrong to grieve in public.
I DON’T GO TOPLESS ANY MORE
Peter’s toned six-pack was a huge part of his appeal in the 90s, and even though he’s still trim his good looks mean less to him today. ‘Going topless in the 90s, I built a rod for my own back because people love to compare me now to when I was so ripped,’ he admits.
‘I had a complex relationship with food and exercise. I went through a stage in my twenties when I was very strict. I got down to five per cent body fat which is dangerous and I used to get sick all the time.
‘In my 30s I put on three stone because I ate pizza every night. Then in my 40s I thought there must be some middle ground, so I went on a balanced diet and exercise programme.
‘But to this day, I won’t even walk on the beach with my shirt off.’
Peter’s toned six-pack was a huge part of his appeal in the 90s, and even though he’s still trim his good looks mean less to him today
‘But recently Princess has been saying, “Dad, what are we doing now?” So it’s the children asking me. Millie and Theo won’t be in it, but Princess and Junior were born into reality TV.’
Does he have any regrets about his reality TV years? ‘None at all, it felt right at the time, and because it was the TV cameras following our lives, the children weren’t stuck to a schedule. Everything we’ve done and will do has to work around our lives.’
It’s understandable he has no regrets because reality TV gave him a second chance at celebrity after a nervous breakdown. At the peak of his early fame in the UK in the 90s with his hit single Mysterious Girl and two Number Ones, Flava and I Feel You, Peter disappeared overnight when the celebrity world turned on him with jealous, snide comments in magazines and even death threats, and he started having panic attacks.
‘I’d had a good ten-year run since I was first signed up aged 16 and I felt exhausted. I went to see my mum and dad in Australia for three months, but those three months turned into three years because I had a horrific breakdown.
‘But the breakdown became a breakthrough thanks to a therapist called Claudia Newman. She somehow made me understand myself.’
Part of that understanding came from dealing with the trauma of his childhood. Born in Harrow in north-west London to Greek-Cypriot parents, his family moved to Australia’s Gold Coast where they were the only ethnic family among the blond-haired, blue-eyed Australians.
‘We got bullied, we got beaten. I remember being tied to a fence where the kids took turns to see who could hit me in the face with stones.
‘If I saw those kids now I’d have no ill feeling because they’ve probably changed. I believe in redemption.
‘I went to talk to a teacher about the bullying and he said, “I’ve never had a greasy wog in my class. Sit at the back and face the wall.” Years later I saw that teacher and he said, “I’m so sorry.” I gave him a hug.’
His teen years were far happier. When he was 16, he appeared on Australia’s New Faces and was offered a record contract live on TV.
Within four years, he had a top three hit, supported Madonna on tour and became a household name in Australia. His trademark slicked-back hair and bare chest won him an army of female fans, but there was a flip side too.
‘The racist bullying stopped but a different kind of bullying began,’ he explains. ‘There are only a certain amount of pop magazines in Australia, and I was constantly on the covers.
Peter pictured with his children Junior and Princess. He says that he’s happier now than he has ever been
‘I’d walk down the street and guys would say, “Who do you think you are?”. Then one night in a Sydney club, a gang pushed me into the toilet and one put a knife to my throat. He said, “My mate’s in hospital because of you and if he dies, you die.”
‘I had no idea what I’d done until it emerged that the man in hospital had hit his girlfriend because she wanted to come to my concert. A group of guys saw it and beat him up, so I became the scapegoat.’
This, alongside his rising fame in the UK, prompted Peter to move to Britain, where he enjoyed great success until his breakdown. Ironically, it was exposing himself to public scrutiny on a reality show that helped his recovery.
As a child I got bullied, I got beaten. I was tied to a fence and kids took turns throwing stones at me
While he was in the jungle in 2004, Mysterious Girl was re-released and shot to Number One and Peter emerged a born-again star. He and Katie Price became the talk of the tabloids, and his reality TV career took off.
‘I went through a stage where I was a little bit arrogant, a bit cocky, and I accept that,’ he says. ‘But I’ve come back to me now.’
A big part of that was meeting Emily, a doctor 17 years his junior, and he says he’s happier now than he’s ever been. Meanwhile he’s passing on the baton of fame to his son Junior, whose debut single Slide went to Number One in the iTunes chart last month.
‘I couldn’t be more proud,’ he says. If Junior’s life ends up being half as colourful as his father’s, we’re in for quite a ride.
- To buy tickets for Peter Andre’s 30 Year Celebration tour 2023 go to peterandre30.com.