Peter Andre reveals his biggest fear for his four kids after opening up on ‘scarring’ experience with school teacher
SHOWING off his tanned, rock-hard abs as he belted out Mysterious Girl, 90s heartthrob Peter Andre seemed to ooze confidence.
But in reality, after years of bullying and racism from pupils – and teachers – at school in Australia, the the British-born pop star was just trying his best to fit in and “be cool”.
Speaking exclusively to The Sun, Peter admitted he still “has his moments” of self-doubt, even after years of therapy.
And the father-of-four, who is of Greek Cypriot descent, said he can’t help but worry about his own children feeling like they don’t belong at school like he did.
Peter, 49, moved from London to Australia’s Gold Coast when he was five and was immediately snubbed by his peers.
He recently admitted he felt “so out of place” – and it even came from the staff.
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“I went to tell the teacher what was going on and he said, ‘Greasy wogs don’t sit in my classroom, they face the wall’,” he recalled. “It scars you. Of course it does.”
He assures us he’s “generally on top of it now” – but as a father of two teenagers, Junior, 16, and Princess, 14 from his first marriage, as well as Amelia, eight, and five-year-old Theodore with his wife Emily MacDonagh, he confessed he can’t help but worry about them in school and “wanting to fit in,” like he did.
But he refuses to wrap his kids in cotton wool.
Junior and Princess are both on Instagram and regularly share pictures of themselves looking as glamorous as their parents – and singing like them too.
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“There's two types of parenting,” Peter told us.
“You could do the type of parenting where you try and stop your kids, wrap them up in a cotton ball, try to stop them going on any social media – but then the problem is they're going to do it behind your back.
“They'll find a way when they're with their friends or when they go have a sleepover.
“You can't stop kids from doing everything, so what's important is just to put things in place, so they're protected while they're doing it.”
Talent over looks
He is keen to encourage his children to be happy in their skin and ensure they aren’t plagued by self-esteem issues.
“You've got to keep giving them confidence, and then it's less about their looks, and then they instinctively start to realise their worth without it being based on looks,” he said.
“Rather than saying to the kids, 'Oh, you look really good,’ you say, ‘Man, you did amazing, you're doing awesome at school. Your talent's brilliant’.”
Conscious that he doesn’t look half bad for nearly 50, Peter added: “I try and stay in shape because I'm on TV and I do theatre and concerts, so I've got to be on stage, because it's my job.
“There's always an element of wanting to be presentable and look good, but it's about you being happy with you.
"Someone said to me the other day, 'You're nearly 50 and still in good shape. But do you ever miss having your full ripped abs that you had in the 90s?' I said, 'Yeah but I don't miss it bad enough.'
“Yeah, I'd love to have abs again. But can I be bothered living that strict? I don't know. I clearly don't want it badly enough."
'I wanted to be cool'
Peter is channelling his school days experience into his new role as Vince Fontaine in Grease on the West End.
“It's so unbelievable how relevant Grease is to my upbringing, learning acceptance and wanting to be cool,” he said.
“It’s still a big thing now, wanting to have the best clothes and make sure your make-up looks good.”
The last time Grease – which was released in 1978 – aired on the BBC, viewers branded it “rapey, racist and homophobic” and criticised the ending, where Olivia Newton-John’s character Sandy Olsson dresses sexier and starts smoking to seduce John Travolta’s Danny Zuko.
But Peter staunchly defended it, arguing: "When you look at classic pieces, you've got to take them for what they were at that time.
“Of course a lot of the things the guys were saying were inappropriate. But back then they may not have looked at it as inappropriate, because that's just the way it was then.
When you look at classic pieces, you've got to take them for what they were at that time
“When you're putting a show like this onstage, you can't change it to suit you. You've either got to tell the story or you don't tell the story.
“You can sugarcoat things, but, in a way, by doing that, you take away from the crux of what it's all about.”
This revamped version of Grease does, however, stray away from the original, featuring same-sex dance couples, more women in the Greased Lightning number, a brunette Sandy and a black Rizzo.
Peter said: “There are differences in the fact that we've got a phenomenal multicultural cast – and even my part is different from the original script.
“Vince Fontaine was originally a bit more sleazy. But they allowed me to do whatever I wanted to do with the part, which I was really grateful for.
“My take on this was more of a clumsy Elvis. He thinks he's cool, but he's a bit outdated.
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"I'm thrilled to be in Grease, and seeing people of all ages having an amazing time watching the show. Performing in the in the West End has always been a dream of mine, so it's another tick off my bucket list!"
Peter Andre stars in Grease at the Dominion Theatre now.
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