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TV Interview

Peter Stringfellow

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Peter Stringfellow
What would happen if you put Peter Stringfellow in a kitchen and told him to cook a three-course meal for Lee Ryan, Linda Barker and Michelle Heaton? The answer can be found in the latest celebrity edition of Channel 4's Come Dine With Me and involves antique china plates, a collapsed sink, gallons of champagne and a new culinary creation called "olive oil ice cream". We spoke to the legendary nightclub owner and reformed lothario to find out more about his prowess in the kitchen.

Why did you decide to do Celebrity Come Dine With Me?
"Good question! I turned down all the other reality shows: I'm A Celebrity, Celebrity Big Brother and so on. I say 'no' every year to every damn thing because it's not me. But I did catch an episode of Come Dine With Me which I found very interesting. So when I was invited to take part in their celebrity one, I thought 'why not?' I like cooking, so let's do it."

Do you cook much?
"I cook a lot. I love it! For me, it's my therapy. I don't play football or golf outside of my business. The idea of staying at home and cooking for my fiancée or a few of my friends feels great to me."

For this show you cooked for a few celebrity dinner guests. Did you know them beforehand?
"I was very pleased that Lee was there. I knew him from Blue, when he was a young boy just starting out. He'd been in and out the club many times drunk and I genuinely liked him. He was a happy drunk! I'd only ever seen Linda Barker on the ads for sofas. I didn't realise she was also a designer proper. The other one (Michelle Heaton), I knew nothing about other than she was a bit of a ladette, and she turned out to be a real ladette."

Who would your ideal guests have been?
"Man, that's too hard. Keep in mind what I do for a living. My clubs all have restaurants and a lot of celebs come and go. I've been in the company of Jack Nicholson, I've had dinner with Mel Gibson, Margaret Thatcher, David Cameron, Boris Johnson. In fact at dinner Boris suggested I should stand for Mayor, way before he did. When you've been in the company of Professor Stephen Hawking, it doesn't get any better than that! Also all-stars like Rod Stewart and Tom Jones. I remember Stevie Wonder when he was little Stevie Wonder in 1967 and played for me with a full orchestra for £200. So to go back to your question, I've had it! I've dined with the most interesting people in the world."

You mentioned Margaret Thatcher and David Cameron there. You're quite a big Conservative supporter, aren't you?
"Not by dogma, but by principle. Providing they keep on track with my thoughts I'll be a Conservative. That's continuing to being pro-British and keeping [Britain] for the good and right of the people who live in this beautiful island."

We digress slightly. Back to the food - your starter was tuna with olive oil ice cream. Where did that idea come from?
"I went to see my good friend Georgio, who owns a restaurant in Majorca, and asked him what he suggested to eat. He brought out tuna with ice cream. I said 'what the hell?' but he told me to taste it first. It was wonderful - and that's how I live my life, I'm very open to new ideas. But when I [served] it to my three guests it was like trying to feed them arsenic. Michelle could just not get the concept of ice cream and olive oil together."

Things didn't go very smoothly for you, did they? Your sink fell straight through.
"The sink just collapsed! Normally I like to wash up as I go, but when you've got cameras over your shoulder, you don't have time. So I was just piling up all these plates in the sink and it eventually collapsed, fell on the floor and water was spouting out. We got through it, though."

Is it true you have slept with over 3,000 women?
"What is true is that I don't talk about that any more. I'm 67 years old now. I've said some stupid things in my time - hasn't any rockstar? - so I don't talk about that any more. It's not something I'm proud of and it's part of my past life. My new life is that I have a fiancéé and I am monogamous and have been for six years. I can't be happier."

Celebrity Come Dine With Me airs tonight at 8pm on Channel 4.

> Click here to read our recent interview with show narrator Dave Lamb

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