Up close and personal - Peter Andre

ONE-time pop singer, reality TV star, ex-Mr Katie Price and Celebrity Father of the Year was top of the tots when he visited South Yorkshire.

The chart topper, who has recently launched his first collection of children's books, joined Rotherham children’s author Peter J Murray, in an attempt to break a world record for the most children reading with an adult. JESSICA FOGARTY joined Peter Andre at the challenge, hosted at Meadowhall shopping centre, to talk books, talent shows and living in the media spotlight...

Q Why did you decide to get involved in the Meadowhall reading challenge?

A Reading is no longer un-cool, it used to be branded that way but people’s perceptions of reading are changing. If you have a creative mind then it is such an amazing hobby to have. My parents always read to me when I was young and I encourage other parents to do the same, but what I regret is I didn't read myself.

Q Do you read to your children?

A I do, I want them to be educated so I spend time reading to them then they read to me.

My son Junior loves the Mr Men books — he is like Mr Tickle and my daughter is like Little Miss Stubborn. I always say to them: “If you've got time to play on your iPad and computer games, then you’ve got time to read.”

Q How would you describe your new collection of books?

A I’ve released two books — Happy Birthday and First day at School. I wanted to release a range of books to help children with their first experiences. My daughter absolutely loves them, but my sons a little bit older so they are not really suitable for him — he’s six going on 26.

My kids will always tell me straight whether they like something or not, so I’m pleased that my daughter Princess was impressed. It’s been a great experience having my own work published and the stories are based on my life — about me, my sister and my brother, as opposed to my kids.

Q Will you continue writing?

A Absolutely — In fact I’ve been asked to write my first adult book for a campaign, so I’ve decided to write a sci-fi thriller which I'm really excited about.

Q How have you found time to sit down and write books alongside filming your TV series and touring?

A I’m a lucky guy to get the opportunities I do, but I get tired just like everybody else. Sometimes I can’t focus in a morning but I look back at the end of the day and I’m grateful for the life I have so I continue to work hard. There may come a point in years to come when I decide to calm down, but I’m still young, I’m only 39, I’ve got a long way to go so I’m going to keep working and keep focused.

Q You maintained a close relationship with your children throughout your separation from Katie Price, how did it feel to be named Father of the Year?

A It was great to be named Father of the Year for two years in a row, but this year I’ve got big competition from Gary Barlow. I’ve beaten Gary to the title before, so this year he said to me: “I’m not having you being named Father of the year for another year, having my kids asking me why i’m always the runner-up Dad.” So I said to Gary if I’m nominated and I win the award for another year, then I will share the award with him, because he really is a brilliant Dad. But the question is, if he wins it, is he going to even mention me?

Anyway it's going to be interesting, and it’s a great privilege for me to win the award.

Q Gary Barlow, like yourself, has had his second chance at fame following his appearance as a judge on the X Factor — would you like to be a judge?

A No, but I would love Dermot O’Leary's job — I wouldn't want to steal his job, obviously, but it's something I would love the chance to do — to be the man between the judges and the artistes.

My career started on an Aussie talent show, so I know how it feels to get up there on stage and perform in front of a panel of judges — I’d find it difficult to criticise someone who has the bravery to get up on stage therefore I would be a biased judge.

Q Which is your favourite out of rival shows Britain’s Got Talent of The Voice?

A I like BGT because it’s such a variety of old school talent, but I’ve got to say I do love The Voice - the four judges are right on the mark, and I've worked with Danny on a few occasions before, we've written three tracks together — he is very knowledgeable and so is Jessie J.

Q You've done a collection of intimate ‘ Up Close and personal’ concerts — can you elaborate on the name?

A I called them  Up close and personal because I sing some acoustic songs and I even put a stage at the back of the room so it's a more intimate experience. My fans in South Yorkshire are great, so I'm looking forward to being back with them all again soon.