I work for: Peter Andre

Nigel Battley is personal assistant to the singer.
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The Independent Culture
I came to work in the music business almost accidentally, after a 10-year career in the Metropolitan Police as a firearms officer.

I happened to offer some advice to a friend, who was arranging a Take That! concert, and he asked if I would organise the security for him. Having been used to dealing with terrorist threats, it was quite an eye- opener to find myself faced with thousands of screaming teenage girls, calling for autographs and banging on the sides of the vehicle. Luckily I had the idea of using an ambulance to get the group out quickly.

It is an adrenaline buzz to work with a successful band, a far cry from diplomats, who could be very stuffy and treat security like servants. Take That were chatty and appreciative and I felt sorry for them; I realised that famous people have such a different life from the rest of us.

Two years ago I was recommended to Peter Andre's managers to replace his brother, who was working as road manager. I wasn't sure whether I wanted the job, because it meant spending so much time away, but I liked Peter a great deal so I accepted. Peter was relatively unknown then so my role included just about everything: security, driving, paperwork and secretarial stuff. As things progressed we brought in another of Peter's brothers for the security, which freed me to become Peter's PA.

We have a touring team of 50 people, but amongst them Peter needs one person to be there and support him, a buffer to protect him from the things he doesn't need to know. We get 1,000 letters a day, including requests to visit or send cards to sick children, which I have to prioritise. I also organise meeting and greeting sessions, giving fans the chance to meet Peter. We may get through 60 meet-and-greets in 45 minutes.

Peter's fame didn't happen overnight. The success of the single "Mysterious Girl" was the turning-point in his career. Suddenly there was huge public recognition. The trick is to make the most of that first moment when people turn around to look at you and say "Wow".

I thinks he copes extremely well. I would hate to be in his shoes. He always has to look his best and keep smiling. But whereas a lot of pop personalities are manufactured, Peter is a genuinely nice guy. There are always people who will try to make money from an experience they have had with a star, like the girl who kissed and told on her relationship with Peter. The story wasn't complete fiction, but I didn't hear any complaints from her the few times they were together. It must be upsetting for Peter, but these experiences go with the territory.

In place of a friendly neighbour in times of trouble, there's an anonymous person in the next-door hotel room; and there aren't any other band members to brainstorm with, either, so I fulfil both roles for Peter. In this industry a PA tends to be the artist's best friend, which is why one of the first things I said to Peter was that I wouldn't lie to him. It amazes me that I haven't been approached by the press before for an interview; I guess they must know that I am loyal.

Peter became a singer at 17. He has led a sheltered life, groomed for fame, rather like a racehorse whose eyes are blinkered, allowing him to see only the course ahead. Being more of an old carthorse myself, I feel I can take the blinkers off and show him the broader picture. I've got a good grounding in real life; I've been a policeman, spent five years as a lifeguard and have been married twice. One of the first things I encouraged Peter to do was to read I Owe You Nothing, by Luke Goss of the boy band Bros, which demonstrates what can happen to a young act. I think he found it quite an eye-opener. I also read the papers and tell him about what is going on, from the Teletubbies upwards, and I always make sure that we have a day free to walk around the city when we are on tour.

Of course, when you are dependent on one person for your livelihood you do wonder what the future holds. I simply want to enjoy what I do, and see Peter succeed.

The real downside to this job is that it's difficult to spend time at home, but Peter loves my kids and is very much part of my family; in fact he will probably spend Christmas with us. I feel like an uncle to him.

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