After one of his toughest years yet, Peter Andre is fighting back. And he’s determined to make the people who’ve made his life a misery pay – big time.
By Louise Gannon, photography by Mark Hayman
Fabulous is poolside with Peter Andre and the reality star is in a playful mood. He chomps on his cigar, scowls through his shades and does his best bad-boy Robert de Niro impersonation. “Things,” he says in a mock-American growl, “are about to get interesting.”
He’s not wrong. In six months’ time he will turn 40 and – after five days of planned hell-raising in Las Vegas (“I’m talking Hangover-style”) with a bunch of his closest male friends – he is planning to put his carefree, single days behind him.
The next chapter of his life, he says, will involve finding wife number two, becoming a serious businessman, doing a tour on the back of his new album out in October (he’s just signed a new deal, FYI) and, finally, bringing down the spiteful internet trolls who have recently caused him huge distress.
And he’s delighted to mark this new phase with a photo shoot for his favourite magazine.
“I love doing photo shoots for Fabulous because they always coincide with really significant moments in my life,” he says.
“My first solo cover was after I split from Kate, and then each time I got stronger. But now with my 40th approaching, I feel like I’m taking control. I know exactly what I want and I’m just going for it.”
No holds barred
This is an all-new tough-talking Pete – we’ve never seen him in such a feisty mood.
“The last year has been all about fighting for me,” he says. “Fighting to give myself and my kids a future, fighting all my fears, fighting for my brother [his eldest brother Andrew is now living with him while undergoing treatment for kidney cancer] and fighting those awful, faceless bullies who just try and destroy everything you do.”
He’s referring to the Twitter and Facebook trolls whose vile, cowardly abuse nearly caused him to spiral head-long into a depression earlier this year. Pete is now planning to use new legislation to take his tormentors to court.
Speaking about the ordeal for the first time he says: “There are these people out there who just say the most horrendous things about my family, about me, and it’s so awful that it does start to get inside your head and pull you down.
“I had things said that I was using my brother’s cancer to further my career, terrible things I’d never repeat about my other brother, Mike and my kids.
“It was a certain group of people doing it on Twitter and it got to me. I could feel myself being pulled down by it, going into a depression.” He pauses.
“As a kid I was bullied. I used to get picked on and beaten up for being mixed race. I was different – I was part Greek and I didn’t look like anyone else. I didn’t want to tell my parents or my older brothers because I didn’t want them to worry.
“So I started doing kung fu when I was 14 to give me the confidence to stop them. I didn’t even need to fight because people saw this change in me and the bullying stopped.
“I still do kung fu now. It’s not about the physical fighting, it’s about the confidence of knowing you can fight mixed with the self-control of not using it until you have to. It’s about discipline, respect and protection.
“But in the case of these weak, pathetic people who don’t even have the courage to put their real names on their evil messages, you don’t even have the power to confront them.
“I wasn’t going to let that stop me, though. I’m starting a legal battle. My lawyers will be able to find out who these people were making up these lies. And I will take legal action against them.
“I’m delighted the government is taking steps to give power to people to stop this horrific bullying. There are young kids out there who have killed themselves because of trolling. I want to be part of the movement to stop it.
“I’ve put blocks on my Twitter and Facebook accounts, and I’m going ahead with my legal battle because I decided that I’m not going to let people like that win.”
But there is definitely a change in Pete. He has more attitude, he’s more outspoken, more definite about what he will and won’t talk about – his ex-wife Katie Price, 34, and her latest fiancé Leandro Penna, 26, for instance, are absolutely not up for discussion.
“I just don’t want to talk about her,” he says firmly. “I want her to be happy, but we split up over three years ago and I feel that people need to move on from it. It just fuels all that endless, pointless gossip and I just want to cut all that negativity out of my life.”
He’s also holding a dignified silence on the subject of their current, increasingly bitter court case.
In legal papers submitted to the court by Pete in a defence against Katie suing him for allegedly providing personal information about her to the press, he has claimed that she had an affair during their marriage – something she strongly denies. He says he had no choice but to respond to Katie’s claims against him.
And courtrooms aside, relations between the former husband and wife show little sign of improving since Katie continually criticises Pete for allowing their children, Junior, seven, and five-year-old Princess, to be part of his reality show. He starts filming again next month and returns to our screens in the winter. Her own show features Harvey, her 10-year-old son by ex-partner Dwight Yorke (and the boy Pete regards as his own), but Katie insists this is only to help raise awareness of disabilities.
Talking about his show, Pete frowns: “Junior and Princess are part of my life. The kids love it and it is the one job I do that I can be with them at the same time. If they didn’t want to do it, they wouldn’t be in it. I’m not a pushy parent.
“Will Smith has two kids who are superstars, but I would never do anything like that with my kids. If they wanted to, they would have to wait till they were 18. It’s what my dad did with me and I’d be the same. My reality show is almost like our home movies, they love it. I love it.”
Apart from his children, Pete’s main priority at the moment is his brother, restaurant manager Andrew, 55.
“That’s important. His cancer put everything into perspective. It was one of the worst moments of my life when I got the call in January that he had cancer. I flew straight to Australia to see him. He had stage IV cancer [in which the disease has spread to other organs], and the prognosis was not good,” Pete says.
“I decided that I wanted to bring him over to England because I knew the Royal Marsden hospital could give him the best treatment. I knew it would be tough on my parents who are in their 80s and I knew this was something I could do to help. I brought him and his wife Magda over, and they now live with me.
“He’s been put on a trial drug and he’s got two more sessions of chemo but he’s doing well. I’m not going to lie, it’s been a struggle. We’ve had really tough moments, but we’ve also had good ones,” he says.
“I’m determined Andrew’s going to get better. If I have any power to help my family I will, because my family is the most important thing in my life.
“My kids aren’t aware what is wrong with him – they just know he’s not well – but they make him laugh and they’ll get him playing on the Xbox. All my brothers [as well as Mike, 42, and Andrew, there is Danny, 45, and Chris, 49, and Pete also has an older sister, Debbie, 40] are in the UK, we’re all together. I keep telling Andrew he’s going to be coming to Vegas for my 40th in February and no excuses,” he laughs.
Peter is now setting up his own fund-raising foundation and is hosting his first event, The Crystal Ball, for Cancer Research UK in September.
“When you know what cancer means, you do anything to help,” he says. “In the past, I have done a lot for charity and now it’s time for all those people in the industry that I have helped to help me out.”
Primarily, Pete is here today to discuss his new fashion range, which includes men’s shirts, T-shirts and kids’ clothes. The Italian-made shirts are all very Peter – slim-fit, attractive, with attention to detail on double-colour collars and clever cuffs. They will – along with his kids’ clothes – be sold on his website and in a major high-street store in the coming months.
However, Pete is well aware that one day he won’t be riding as high as he is now.
He shrugs: “It’s going to happen. The last series of my reality show had the highest ever ratings, but I know it’s not going to go on forever. This is something I’ve really thought about this year because it is all tied in with me becoming 40 and having that as a deadline for really growing up and looking after my future.
“My career is going really well. I’m busier than ever with TV shows, a tour, I’ve just signed a record deal and I sold out the O2 again this year. I have projects like my clothing line and I’m still getting huge calendar sales. But I also decided that by 40, I needed something outside show business.
“I started my coffee shop, the New York Coffee Club in East Grinstead,West Sussex. And I’m already expanding – I’m opening a new one in Brighton, then I’m planning more, moving towards London. I want a franchise. I want the best coffee business in Britain and I’m going to make it happen.”
The business suffered a blow, though, when heath inspectors gave it a hammering citing a series of hygiene issues.
“Of course, I was horrified,” he says. “I don’t want that to be part of what I do. My brother Danny [who runs the business] went straight to the inspectors, and we worked with them.
“There were a few issues involving putting in extra sinks and making changes which we implemented straight away. They came back and we went from a score of one out of five to five out of five. That’s what you do, you come back fighting, you make things better.”
There is still one area of his life, however, that has yet to get “better”. The part of him that is desperate to settle down and be a family again.
“I know, I know,” he says laughing. “I’m pathetic aren’t I? I admit it, I have massive commitment issues. I put all these things in the way, but believe me, I am going to change.”
Since the split in 2009, Katie has married Alex Reid, got divorced, and is now engaged to Argentinean model, Leo.
During that time, Pete has dated a few women including Elen Rivas, 34, and dancer Kristina MacMillan, 27, but no romance has lasted more than six months.
“That’s what I want. I want to settle down and have more children, but I’m going to do it my way,” he says.
Which is? “OK. I’m turning 40 in February, so I don’t even want to think about a girlfriend till after that has happened. I’m not even going to look. I’m then going to fly to Vegas with all my brothers, Gino D’Acampo, and a few of my best friends.
“There will be no cameras, there’s going to be a lot of drinking, there
aren’t going to be days because we are literally just going to be living at night. And there will be one rule which is that what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas. Then I’m going to come home and I’m going to find that person.
“I’m not going to get to 50 and not be married with a family. I’m going to find me the right girl and it’s going to be soon – she’s just got to wait till I turn 40.”
He grins as he admits part of him is terrified of hitting the big 4-0.
“I’ve got to watch it,” he says. “I’m already having to really work hard on my body. Three years ago I lost 3st, I’ve put 1st back on, but I don’t want to get any bigger. I mix up sprinting with kung fu and weight training and do about 45 minutes every day. I absolutely have to or else I’d start to pile it on.”
He is, up close and personal, looking extremely good for his age.
“There’s a bit of baby Botox,” he admits. “I’ll do it once a year, just to stop those lines getting too deep. But hey, I’m proud to have a few lines, I’m a man. I’ve earned them, don’t you think?”
● Peter’s clothing range is available from Peterandre.com. Peter Andre’s Bad Boyfriend Club, a makeover show, starts 9pm, August 8, ITV2.
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For Pete’s sake…
Have you got any superstitions?
I don’t ever walk under a ladder.
Ever come close to death?
When I had meningitis back in 2007. It was really scary.
What’s your biggest regret?
Insania. What was I thinking? And those Bo Derek plaits I had when I was 21.
Most treasured possession?
My Ferrari, but it’s now up for sale and part of the proceeds are going to kids in Zanzibar.
Who are your dream dinner party guests?
Pippa Middleton, Barack Obama, my father’s dad, my mum and dad and my brothers and sister.
What was your best kiss?
Aged six, a Sri Lankan girl called Miranda. I thought I’d gone to heaven.
When was the last time you cried?
In March. We’ve had a lot of struggles with Andrew’s cancer.
Ever done anything illegal?
I nicked a Mars Bar when I was 13. I was mortified because I knew how upset my dad would be, so I couldn’t eat it. I went back to the shop and paid for two.
What would your superpower be?
What’s your greatest fear?
Being strapped into a roller coaster. But I forced myself to do it this year.
What’s your guiltiest pleasure?
Eating other people’s leftovers!
Most unappealing habit?
Eating other people’s leftovers.
What would your last meal be?
Everything Italian. I’d start with antipasti and finish with tiramisu.
The last book you read?
Sci-fi book The Power Of Six by Pittacus Lore.
My friends would describe me as
Crazy, funny, happy, and slightly moody.
If I’d known 10 years ago what I know now, I’d…
Have bought a lot more property.
- Check back from 9am on Tuesday for our behind-the-scenes video with Peter!