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Andrew Winter tells: “I thought my TV career was over”

When Andrew Winter moved to Australia, he never anticipated what was to come

By Helen Vnuk
Andrew Winter is a very busy man. Not only is he hosting two of Foxtel's most popular shows, Selling Houses Australia and Love It Or List It, while trying to sell his own home, he's also the first Foxtel personality to be nominated for the coveted TV WEEK Gold Logie award.
But in 2005, when Andrew moved his family from the UK to Australia, he believed his decision would spell the end of his TV career. At the time, Andrew was hosting the UK version of Selling Houses.
"The show, to me, was of secondary importance in those days," Andrew, 52, explains. "I actually never thought it was going to last."
Andrew thought his career was over when he made the move to Australia.
It was this way of thinking that led Andrew and his wife Caroline to make the decision to bring up their children in Australia. They made plans for a quiet life, running a real estate business and leaving Selling Houses behind.
"I thought the television thing in the UK would drift away," he remembers. "And, certainly, that it wouldn't happen in Australia. It wasn't part of the plan at all."
But when the British star announced to his TV bosses that he was making plans to move to Australia, their response was unexpected.
"They said, 'What if we needed you?' and I said, 'Well, I can fly back.' So that's exactly what I did for another three seasons."
As the father of Olivia, now 23, Daisy, now 16, and Mia, now 14, Andrew admits it was tough being away from them for long stretches, particularly when they were young.
"It wasn't ideal, I have to say," he says. "And it was sad, obviously, when I got the phone call [from the show's producers] saying, 'You're ditched.' But to be quite honest, it was a relief," he says.
"But I was out of TV for only two weeks when Foxtel rang and asked, 'Do you want to do an Australian version?' and I said, 'What, just fly around Australia? Sign me up!'"
Love It Or List It duo Neale Whitaker and Andrew are famous for their banter.
Real estate has always been Andrew's passion. Even as a young boy in the UK, he was obsessed with houses.
"I loved nothing more than going on to a building site and watching how a house was built," he remembers. "I had an uncle who was a site manager and sometimes he'd let me go up on the scaffolding. I adored it."
But there was no selling of houses in his childhood.
"My parents never moved house − I was so bitter about that," he says with a laugh. "I always wanted a different house, a 'For Sale' board outside, the whole thing, and it never happened.
"So I had to leave home at 18 and buy one. I owned that first house not even a year and I was so excited to put up a For Sale board outside. My father was appalled: 'We bought a house for life, son,' he said."
It was around that time that Andrew made the first of many trips to Australia.
"I loved it," he recalls. "My main visit was in 1988. It was World Expo that year in Brisbane."
Caroline's parents lived in Australia, so the family was visiting the country every second year. But it took some convincing to move.
"My wife wasn't that keen, initially," he says. "Then it became, 'Oh, hang on a minute − this could be a good move for the family.'"
They settled in Queensland for visa-related reasons, and ended up living on Queensland's Gold Coast because of Olivia.
"We arrived and she went, 'Is there a beach? I'll have that one, please.' That's it," he says.
Andrew and Caroline have renovated and sold a string of houses in their time in Australia, all on the Gold Coast.
"We're terrible," Andrew says. "We finish one and then it's like, 'Oh, what now? Let's do another one!'"Thankfully, their daughters have learnt to put up with the reno life.
"Unlike my wife and I, who didn't move until we left home as adults, I can't tell you how many homes our kids have had," Andrew says.
"They roll their eyes and say, 'Where are we going now?'"
Andrew on-set of Selling Houses Australia.
While Andrew's daughters don't share his passion for real estate, Olivia once did work experience with Selling Houses' interior designer Shaynna Blaze. Andrew jokes that it must have put her off.
"She's in the airline industry, so she couldn't have gone further from that," he says, although he suspects youngest daughter Mia may follow in his footsteps in another way.
"She may want to do something in television, because she's a little bit loud like me," he says.
Andrew and Caroline put their house on the market in January, and have plans for a knockdown and rebuild. But they won't be looking outside the Gold Coast anytime soon.
"Oh, no − we won't leave the Goldie," Andrew says. "Where would we go?"
The TV personality is clearly loyal to the Gold Coast and was delighted to see the TV WEEK Logie Awards held there for the first time in 2018.
"They did it proud," he says. "The morning after, I overheard so many people saying, 'Oh, it was great! Before the awards, I went straight to the beach and had a lovely walk.' You couldn't do that in rainy Melbourne in the winter.
"It was a coup to get an event like that, so long may it continue."
Andrew puts his knowledge - and jokes - to the test every week on TV.
As for his own Gold Logie nomination in 2018, Andrew calls it "an honour". But he's not campaigning for another shot at the top gong.
"I'm not that keen on the attention," he says. "My colleagues in production have a nickname for me: 'Andrew Winter NNW' − Nominee Not Winner."
He adds he'd like to see someone else from Foxtel win the Logie.
"I'd love it, he enthuses. "Boy, would I vote for them!"
One thing from last year that Andrew has managed to put behind him is his episode of Bell's palsy − or, as he calls it, "droopy face".
For about a month, filming paused as he waited for the paralysed side of his face to return to normal.
"It's not something that could be prevented if you exercised more or ate more of this or did more of that," he explains. "They say it only happens once. I hope that's the case."
Caroline and Andrew at the 2018 TV WEEK Logie Awards.
For now, it's about quality of life, and Andrew is doing that at work and home.
"I love real estate, so it's an excuse for me to follow my hobby," he explains.
So should a reality series such as I'm A Celebrity...Get Me Out Of Here! or Dancing With The Stars come calling, Andrew won't be rushing to the phone.
"Never ever," he insists. "Can't dance. Can't stand bugs. I can only do real estate − that's my world."
Selling Houses Australia airs Wednesday, 8:30pm, on Lifestyle on Foxtel.

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