BLOG: When scj met peter andre
25th February 2018 - Alex Barnes
I met Peter Andre in the most peculiar circumstances of any interview I've done in my relatively short career.
When you run a company like South Coast Journalism (did you know we specialize in amateur sport in the south? Have we mentioned that enough?), it's not that often you get to meet someone who is an actual celebrity.
Sure, there are sportsmen and women in our area who are very well known but it's not often I get to interview someone with 3.5 million followers on Twitter.
That's not through any fault of SCJ, it's simply because our goal is to promote those who might otherwise not get enough recognition for their achievements.
So, having escaped to the Ionian in Greece for a couple of weeks, whilst SCJ was having a bit of an overhaul at the time, my time sat relaxing on a boat tied up to the harbour wall in Sivota was abruptly interrupted by the arrival of a film crew. Now, Sivota was a fairly busy place at that time.
It was hosting the Southern Ionian Regatta: a fully international racing event catering for the super competitive to the amateur and even completely never-touched-a-line-before novice. If it wasn't for the drunken rendition of "Always look on the bright side of life" at prize giving, it should possibly receive greater recognition for bringing people from various countries together in a fun competition.
Parked up alongside the boat I was holidaying on was a Neilson charter yacht and it was the host vessel for Peter Andre and his crew. The british-born singer, songwriter, businessmen and television personality was filming his new TV show: A Greek Odyssey.
The idea for his visit to Sivota was that he would take part in the Southern Ionian Regatta (as well as give out a few prizes and probably sing "Mysterious Girl"), for his TV show. So I watched with relative interest as they filmed his arrival onto the Neilson yacht before eventually disappearing out into the Ionian an hour or so later.
Originally, I just found it interesting to watch a TV show being filmed at such close quarters about a country I love. I have been to the Ionian countless times and studied Classic Civilisations at college. Despite being a journalist, even if I do try to work more as a videographer than an actual reporter, I was content to not do my job and simply watch.
But, as the day drew out and Sivota was empty of yachts as they raced in the regatta, I got thinking about the possible pros and cons of approaching Mr Andre and, more importantly, his producer for an interview.
The pros were obvious. A feather to my cap should I ever need to suddenly switch to mainstream, celebrity or showbiz news and the potential publicity an interview on the right subject would gain South Coast Journalism. Any spike in numbers from Peter Andre fans around the globe on little ole' SCJ is still something we can sell to sponsors to gain their invaluable support.
The cons were, most notably, being completely shut down for even approaching them at the time and possibly being accused of stalking the poor celebrity on a random island in the Ionian.
So when the Neilson boat and it's fatigued looking celebrity guest finally made it's way back to the berth on my bit of harbour, I couldn't really resist the urge to approach the film crew. I waited for the right moment, allowing them to finish the days filming and sit down around the restaurant tables that were positioned behind the Neilson yacht. They had a drink, relaxed and probably debriefed from the days filming and racing.
Now, I was considerably under equipped to attempt this interview. It did occur to me that Andre and his film crew were probably more used to a suited gentlemen with a microphone. Now they were about to be ambushed by a long haired, slightly bearded, shorts and flip-flops wearing sports journalist whose only official piece of company clothing was an old SCJ t-shirt that had very much retired into life as a beach top.
Having been out on the water for the better part of the day, the film crew and Andre himself couldn't have been more welcoming. I politely asked one of the more senior looking team members about the possibility of an interview and almost instantly found myself being frog-marched to Andre's table to discuss it with him.
There were no excuses or forced apologies, he was more than happy to give me some of his time and I soon found myself sat opposite him, surrounded by his support team, about to do an interview that was only really taking place because there had been sailing involved. I'm quite happy to put out there now that, even if it is only during brief encounters, the rumours of him being a thoroughly nice guy to talk to are true. He was welcoming, didn't make any excuses not to talk to me and seemed fairly friendly.
Some of you, especially any journalists or students reading this, might be wondering what reason I was going to provide in order to interview and then publish an article on Peter Andre, well outside of SCJ's usual area and topics. It was fairly simple: "to help promote sailing, it's attractions and hopefully interest a handful of his 3.5 million followers." Sailing is, of course, one of SCJ's top four most viewed sports.
So, what had Andre spent his day doing at the Southern Ionian Regatta? Besides the obvious of course. "Well, we are filming a show called A Greek Odyssey and it's going to be a brilliant show." Andre began. "It's a little bit of culture, history, cooking, sailing and some kinds of extreme sports that we did."
"It's going to be aired next year. This part of the filming we are doing today is for the last show. And it's been great, it really has been great. I've never sailed before and it's wiped me out."
"I don't know how people do it year in, year out. It's unbelievable." "But it's beautiful, absolutely beautiful. You are in the Ionian sea, it can't get better than that."
Now, my next question did need to focus a little bit on the sailing side of it to give my fairly flimsy reason a little bit of credibility. So, he discussed what he had been doing out on the water, and what kind of elements he had been taught.
"They were teaching me about how ropes were not ropes and that there are certain things that each line does." Andre explained. "There was quite a bit about the sails and I learnt about tacking and I was finding it all to be really interesting stuff. It definitely would take me more than one time to learn it all."
It was always going to be a fairly short interview and despite his friendly and approachable demeanor, Andre was clearly flagging so I kept my questions relatively straight forward and brief. The next one was about the Southern Ionian Regatta itself.
"I think everyone struggled a bit because there wasn't much wind at the beginning and you could see everyone going at a snails pace before the wind picked up. But there were some people out there who were troopers, absolute troopers. It was all quite amazing to watch."
Obviously, I was more than happy (and probably obliged) to promote his new show, so having got enough about the sailing out of the way, I asked Andre a little more about the show itself.
"We've done cooking, we've done some sports, we've done some history. We went to Ithaca where the legend says Ulysses (or Odysseus, of Homer's epic poem "The Odyssey") was born and started his Greek odyssey there. So that was incredible, one of the highlights for me. And then, in among all that, it's been a real joy to mix with the locals, and eat Greek food, which I absolutely adore."
The final question surrounded how and when the show could be seen, details of which are posted at the end of this blog. Without wanting to overstay my welcome, I wrapped up the interview there.
However, what followed genuinely surprised me. Instead of being shuffled off and away so that Andre and his team could enjoy a rest, I was moved slightly round the table and invited to stay for a drink or two. Considering how quickly we had gone into the interview, Andre and his team had very little idea who I or the relatively unknown (on an international scale) South Coast Journalism was.
So the subject of discussion very quickly focused on South Coast Journalism and what it was about, with the various team members and Andre himself taking a keen interest in the videography side of the website, they felt that our goal to promote as many amateur clubs across the coast was an excellent idea and commended both myself and the SCJ team for our efforts.
After about 45 minutes, I decided that it was probably best to make my excuses and leave Andre in peace, despite their apparently unwavering enthusiasm and conversation. If you consider I deliberately surround myself with a few people who are very good at talking and PR (Rachel, for example) on the SCJ team, I was aware that I'd done quite well until now and wanted to quit while I was ahead.
It wasn't the last time I saw Andre whilst out in the Ionian. During a short stay in nearby Spartochori, Andre, his team and the Neilson boat arrived a few hours after me. Later in the evening, the peace of the bay was disturbed by a Sailing Holiday's lead crew (a company my younger brother now works for) motoring as close to Andre's restaurant table as they possibly could, blaring his most recognised song out the speakers.
A Greek Odyssey has an official website (click here) but there has not yet been an announcement as to when the show will be shown in the UK. This is why I ultimately posted this as a lengthy blog, instead of waiting longer to post a relatively short interview piece.
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