Islington People: Blue Peter presenter Andy Akinwolere hangs up the badge
Andy Akinwolere talks about his five years on the world’s longest-running kids’ show
�Andy Akinwolere has hung up his sticky tape and handed over his Blue Peter badge after entertaining the nation’s youngsters for the last five years.
He stepped down as a presenter on the world’s longest-running children’s show two weeks ago.
The Holloway resident and die-hard Arsenal fan says: “It hasn’t sunk in yet. It was my first gig and I’m really excited about moving on to new things – but it was five glorious years.”
The ambitious 28-year-old was bidding goodbye to a programme that has given him the chance to do everything from meeting the Queen to claiming a swimming world record and earning his skydiving stripes.
The way he describes it, Blue Peter is more like a kids’ version of Top Gear these days rather than a dreary lesson in the creative possibilities of toilet rolls and cereal boxes.
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“It gave me a lot of great opportunities,” he says. “I did all sorts – I was completely petrified of water, but I swam across the deepest part of the ocean, I’m scared of heights, so I got my sky diving licence, I met Usain Bolt, the Queen, the Pope – I’ve had some of the most phenomenal times of my life.
“But I just feel like my job’s done – and I’ve rinsed it for as much as I can!”
It seals the end of a remarkable journey for Andy – who, at 23, was fighting off the nerves ahead of his maiden live TV performance, just two months after moving to London.
Andy, who was born in Nigeria before arriving in Birmingham as an eight-year-old, says: “I came down to London as a runner. Two months into the job someone asked me to audition for Blue Peter – and the rest is history.
“I had never done a TV programme and was just chucked into live programming – it was the most nerve-wracking experience.”
He is tight-lipped about what his future holds, but adds: “There are a few things in the pipeline, but one day I would love to work in the States.
“They have bigger budgets to play with over there – and they would probably be more impressed with my crap humour!”