He’s a scrap metal buyer and seller, a newspaper columnist, a carnival queen chauffeur and regular man-about-Diss. Now Pete Gillings is a to launch into another career - as a TV celebrity chef.
He is soon to appear in Channel 4’s popular Come Dine With Me - cooking a meal for three visitors in a competition for a £1000 prize.
You are miced up all the time and they kept saying to me ‘You can’t say that’. It was all politically correctPete Gillings
It was to start on Monday but has given way to a Champion of Champions version of the programme and will now be shown at a later date.
Mr Gillings, who writes his PG’s Tips column in the Diss Express, visited his rivals for meals at their homes in Felixstowe, Stowmarket and Debenham but, as always in television prize shows, the result is a secret until the programme is broadcast.
His invitation to appear came as a complete surprise. “The television people asked a guy near here but he couldn’t cook. He told them he knew a geezer round the corner who could.
“I’m no expert but I’ve lived on my own for 25 years and can do a bit. So I said Yes.”
And, he candidly admitted, it was good publicity for the scrap metal yard. “I’m still getting inquiries from the time the Salvage Hunters programme came here,” he said.
His first choice of main course was steaks. “But they said steaks were boring - so I did chilli instead.
I could have done a much better meal.”
Dessert was a sherry trifle but his seafood starter was a problem for one of his guests who did not eat fish. “She just had a roll,” he said.,
The week-long filming was fun but tiring with 2am finishes - caused in part when Mr Gillings was asked to re-record his comments without some of his first-choice expressions. “You are miced up all the time and they kept saying to me ‘You can’t say that’. It was all politically correct.”
It was an interesting experience despite all the retakes and the successful production was running in 18 countries, said Mr Gillings.
The programme-makers loved a falling out between the contestants but Mr Gillings said that he and his rivals all got on together.
“We had agreed to go out together for a meal and then I was diagnosed with bowel cancer.
“I am all right now but I’ve got to have chemotherapy, which is hard work.
“I’m still better off than a lot of people.”