Exclusive: Popstar Peter Andre on his health, kids, career, future and Sunday’s gig in Ipswich’s Christchurch Park

He’s in Suffolk so often he might as well live here. Entertainment writer WAYNE SAVAGE talks to popstar Peter Andre about his health, kids, career and why nobody’s invited him round for tea.

Andre was at the Regent last December, comes to Christchurch Park this Sunday and is at Newmarket Nights in August. He might as well move to Suffolk.

“I was thinking that but I haven’t had an invite from anyone; no one’s invited me out for a cup of tea yet,” he laughs. “Until that happens I think I’ll be staying put.”

Last year was a massive year for Andre, with his Revelation and Accelerate tours and the release of his eighth studio album, which saw him collaborate with the likes of Taio Cruz, Labrinth and Guy Chambers.

It was a year of lows, too; notably having to cancel shows - including his November gig at the Ipswich Regent - to have emergency surgery to remove kidney stones.

“I kept going to the doctor with pains and they couldn’t find anything. The night of the operation they found the stones had been lodged there for nearly three months; my kidney was getting filled up with poison, that’s why I kept getting sick all the time,” he remembers.

“The night before the first show of the Accelerate tour I’d been rehearsing; I was ill and collapsed that night and that’s when my road manager said ‘right, we’re going straight to hospital’ and doctors said we need to operate now.”

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Proving why he was voted the hardest working man in pop that year, Andre was back on stage the very next night after his release from hospital. Was that a decision he regrets?

“No, not at all. Mate, I don’t know how it happened but I cured myself throughout the tour and didn’t dance for the first few days. I was told to stop, stop, stop; you know it’s like putting a kid in a candy store you know what I mean? At some point you’re going to grab the sweets.”

He says he feels fantastic right now; but it’s an ongoing problem and he’s due to see the “great Doctor R” who treated him again.

“He said I have to go see him because it’s an ongoing problem I have to resolve. At my age he said I shouldn’t be going through kidney stones - and there’s not just one, I’ve got a few.”

Having had one myself, I can sympathise with the pain he must be in.

“Know what, I just think mate you’ve got so many good things in your life you can’t ask for everything. I think onward and Upward.”

Andre first hit the big time in 1995 with his number two hit Mysterious Girl, which later reached the top spot in the UK singles chart when re-released in 2004 after his appearance on ITV’s reality show I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here!

A number one single wasn’t the only thing he picked up courtesy of the show, but I’ve been asked not to mention the J-word before he calls me. I get it; it’s old news and he’s moved on. Before gossip fans get excited, the E-word was also a no-go area, so nothing to see on that score here either.

Moving on, Andre’s had number ones in the singles and albums charts, toured the globe, has his own TV show, books and perfume and aftershave lines.

You wonder how he finds the time; but he puts it down to his hardworking management team. Which brings us to another subject I was asked to avoid - his children.

“I’m a very lucky guy; not only because of the work I have but I’ve got a very good team who work out my daily itinerary because it changes so much.

“They try to cram a lot of things around when I’ve got my kids; the work they can’t come to I do when I’m not with them and the work they will enjoy I do with them. I just get on and think I’m lucky that I’ve got this much work; it doesn’t always last for ever, you know?”

Since he’s brought them up I run with it and ask about him winning celebrity dad of the year for the second year running.

“It’s the first time someone’s won it two years in a row and I’m pretty darn grateful. That’s for life, you know? If you win an award in TV or music that’s a great memory but to be named that... as a good father, that’s a life-long thing. Your kids will remember that.”

Anybody who’s watched his hit show, Peter Andre: The Next Chapter, or read about his alleged clashes with the ex-who-must-not-be-named will know how much he dotes on son Junior, daughter Princess Tiaamii and former stepson Harvey,

“I do love them and we’re good friends. They tell me off, I tell them off; we have fun, you know? We joke around but I’m also strict and stern.”

A matter of striking a balance?

“Yes, exactly, because in the old school our parents were really strict with us and we’ve got to still instil that respect in them; but you just gotta add a little bit more open-mindedness.”

I wonder if the show is his way of trying to control the media spotlight he’s found himself in.

“I don’t know; I’ve never really thought about it. I just think we’re in a great position; when the kids are older I’m going to go ‘remember when we went to do such and such? You were three’. My daughter’s going to be like ‘what, really, I want to see it’.”

It’s better than a collection of photographs.

“Exactly right. It’s a wonderful version of a photo album; it’s going to be great.”

On the subject of photographs, he must get tired of the paparazzi and media merry-go-round.

“The paps are very good with me,” he confesses. “I let them do their thing; I never hassle, abuse or swear at them. When I used to live in Brighton I’d go and make them coffees.

“I think ‘well, they’re just doing their job’ and because of that they’re respectful of you. If you then turn around one day and say ‘listen mate, can I just be left alone with the kids’ they’re ‘yeah, no worries’.”

He admits he might not always feel that way, though.

“I’m in a situation where, yes, I’m working a lot of hours but you get used to that life and I almost don’t understand anything different. There’ll come a time when I’ll be like ‘thank you all very much, I’ve really loved it and just want to relax now’.”

There’ll be no taking it easy this Sunday at Christchurch Park’s Up Close and Personal gig.

Andre’s bringing a four-piece band and dancers with him. As well as his own tracks, he’s planning to throw in a little section of the 90s and songs he grew up listening to - expect anything from Sting and Stevie Wonder to Michael Jackson and Terrence Trent Darby.

“Great classics that you’ll all know and go ‘oh God, I remember this’. It’s all about having a celebration really; it’s not about ‘oh I need you to hear this song because...’.”

With new single Perfect Night - written by Chambers and Cruz - out now, more concerts and three TV shows on the go his career continues to go from strength to strength.

Deciding to push what I can and can’t ask about, I want to know what he wants for himself in the future.

“You know what, I’m pretty content as long as my kids are healthy. There’ll come a time when I’ll put work as a third or fourth priority but right now, kids first, work second, everything else third.”

So he’s just taking life as it comes, having a good time and not rushing into anything I probe.

“Absolutely, exactly,” he replies.

The one thing he’s certain about is the fun in store for this Sunday’s Up Close and Personal audience, “Come down, I promise you you’ll be entertained and make sure you’re ready to party.”

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