Ayo Akinwolere

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Ayo Akinwolere
Ayo Akinwolere .jpg
Born (1982-11-30) 30 November 1982 (age 35)
Nigeria
Other names Andy Akinwolere
Occupation Broadcaster
Known for Being the 32nd presenter of Blue Peter (2006–2011)
Television Fort Boyard: Ultimate Challenge (2012–14)
Inside Out (2014–)

Ayo Akinwolere (born 30 November 1982), previously known as Andy Akinwolere,[1] is a Nigerian-born British television presenter.

Early life[edit]

Akinwolere was born in Nigeria in 1982, and moved to the United Kingdom with his family when he was eight years old, where he adopted the name "Andy". They settled in Birmingham, where he went to school.

Education[edit]

Akinwolere attended St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic School in Kings Norton, a district of Birmingham, and then Sheffield Hallam University, from which he graduated in 2004, with a BA degree in Media Studies.

Career[edit]

His first job was as a 'runner' for the BBC. He was asked to audition by one of the Blue Peter directors he met whilst eating out with colleagues; he had previously intended to go into documentary-making and radio. Akinwolere began co-presenting the BBC television programme Blue Peter on 28 June 2006. Whilst on the show he was nominated for two British Academy Children's Awards: The prestigious Presenter of the Year Children’s BAFTA and subsequently nominated with Blue Peter the following year for Best Factual Programme.

His first challenge, as a presenter, was to complete a 150-yard abseil and an 1100 ft Hele Bungee. He has presented the show with Konnie Huq, Zöe Salmon, Gethin Jones, Helen Skelton, Joel Defries and Barney Harwood. He went on to pass his driving test on the show, gained a Racing / Sky Diving license and a Swimming World record.

As a young presenter he’s been a guest presenter on CBBC’s Safari 8 to the established art show SM:ART. Akinwolere presented the BBC red button coverage of the London Mini-Marathon. In 2008 as lead presenter Akinwolere hosted Queen Elizabeth II to celebrate 50 years of Blue Peter, the most established children’s programme in the country. He also presented a ceremony in the presence of Pope Benedict XVI during his tour of the United Kingdom in September 2010.

He accidentally dropped the star that had topped the Trafalgar Square Christmas tree for ten years as he was attaching it to a crane, leaving it slightly damaged; nonetheless, he was allowed to try again once it had been taped up.[2]

On 4 April 2011, he mentioned on-air, that he was planning to leave the show, and it was also reported at the same time in his Blue Peter Blog. It had been reported two days earlier in the Daily Mail.[3]

He took part in the Ready Steady Cook TV programme, competing against fellow presenter Konnie Huq in December 2007. In the same year he appeared on the Weakest Link where he was the fifth to be eliminated.

On 25 April 2011, Akinwolere was a contestant on Total Wipeout's second Celebrity Special of series 4 but had to quit in The Wipeout Zone because he hurt himself on Killer Surf. He came third in The Qualifier, second Crash Mountain and first in the Dizzy Dummy.

In June 2011, he set a new world record for the deepest location for an open water swim, when he swam more than five miles across the Palau Trench in the Pacific Ocean – the first person to have done so. The last major challenge he would do on Blue Peter before leaving the show at the end of the season.

In July 2012, it was revealed that he would co-present the third season of Fort Boyard: Ultimate Challenge alongside Laura Hamilton he presented the show for two series. Both were nominated for a British Academy Children's Awards for Best Entertainment Programme in 2014.

In June 2011, he set a new world record for the deepest location for an open water swim, when he swam more than five miles across the Palau Trench in the Pacific Ocean – the first person to have done so.

In 2012 Akinwolere went to Jamaica to interview the worlds fastest man Usain Bolt, in a documentary for the BBC. The Documentary looked looked to understand through various theories, why Jamaica as a nation had dominated the world of sprinting for so long. As well as Bolt he met his father Wellesley Bolt and his inspirational school teacher Lorna Thorpe.

In January 2013 he appeared in a special series of The Great British Bake Off for Comic Relief which was won by Warwick Davis. In 2016 Ayo was a contestant on Celebrity Master Chef of which he competed with Rylan Clark Arlene Phillips, Kimberly Wyatt and Craig Gazey. The series was won by Kimberly Wyatt.

In 2015 Ayo created a THE SWIM CHALLENGE, a project looking to prove that people of colour can swim. Ayo is one of four people of colour with a swimming world record, he took 15 non swimming adults of various ethnic backgrounds from across London and redesigned a swimming programme to teach them how to swim. In 10 weeks the participants went through a gruelling swimming programme helped by the Swim Dem Crew, to try and challenge their fears of the water and furthermore learn to swim. All the participants learned to swim, and even more remarkable eight participants from the group went on the swim in open water with Ayo in the Great Manchester Swim and Great London Swim. The project gained momentum in various publications and was sponsored by Speedo, Ayo was later commissioned by BBC Get Inspired to document the project.

As a broadcaster he's worked across various British television channels and radio stations. Interviewing some of the worlds greatest sports people including Usain Bolt Lewis Hamilton Jessica Ennis. Ayo has written for publications such as The Daily Telegraph Huffington Post and BBC Sport on Sport, his career and also male identity. He claimed to have travelled to over 118 different cities in the world through his career.

From 2014, Akinwolere became the presenter of the BBC’s current affairs programme Inside Out for the West Midlands for which he has won the Best Factual Royal Television Society Award for his documentary on Extremism. He is still the presenter of the programme.

Personal life[edit]

Akinwolere has four siblings – three brothers and one sister who live in the United States. His first language growing up was Yoruba, in addition to English; which he learned when the family moved to Birmingham. His parents both lived abroad for a while and he spent a small part of his childhood living in Nancy, France. He has been quoted as saying he has seen 118 different cities around the world. He mentioned on Blue Peter on 8 April 2009 that he shares a flat with CBBC presenter Johny Pitts. He is an amateur photographer and has had pictures published in National Geographic Kids Magazine and the 2010 Christmas edition of Vogue Bambini. He is also a keen collector of rare vinyl and rare music.

World Record Swim[edit]

Blue Peter presenter Ayo Akinwolere has set two world records for swimming in one of the deepest stretches of water on the planet. Mr Akinwolere swam five miles across the Palau Trench, an 8,000-metre deep abyss in the Pacific Ocean. He is the first person to swim across the deepest part of the trench, and now holds the record for the deepest location for an open water swim. He took three and a half hours to complete his swim. His records were verified by the World Open Water Swimming Association. Until a few weeks before, Mr Akinwolere was unable to swim a length and was terrified of open water. He said: "It's an absolute triumph to have completed this swim, after having had just over 10 weeks of swimming training I still cannot believe how far I've come. "I could not swim a length before this and now I have swum over one of the deepest parts of the world. "All the hours of gruelling training will be worth it if my challenge inspires more children from ethnic minorities to learn to swim."

Filmography[edit]

Year Title Role Channel
2006–2011 Blue Peter Presenter BBC One
2007 SMart Guest presenter (one episode) CBBC
2007 Ready Steady Cook Participant BBC Two
2008 The Weakest Link Contestant on Blue Peter special BBC One
2008 SMart Guest presenter (one episode) CBBC
2009 Coronation Street Guest cameo (one episode) ITV
2009 England's Worst Ever XI Participant BBC Three
2010 Teensville Documentary Presenter BBC Two
2010 100 Greatest Toys Channel 4 Participant Channel 4
2011 Total Wipeout Contestant BBC One
2012 Usain Bolt: Running Man Documentary Presenter BBC
2012–2014 Fort Boyard: Ultimate Challenge Co-presenter alongside Laura Hamilton ITV
2013 The Great British Bake Off Contestant BBC One
2016 World Of Weird Presenter Channel 4
2017 It's A Dogs Life Documentary Presenter BBC World Service
2017 Great Birmingham 10k Presenter Channel 5
2017 Our Home Correspondent Guest Presenter BBC Radio 4
2017 Football Focus Reporter BBC One
2017 Match Of The Day Reporter BBC One
2014 - Present Inside Out Main Presenter BBC One

Awards[edit]

In 2008 and 2010 Akinwolere was nominated for Presenter of the year at BAFTA Children's Award. BAFTA Children's Awards 2008 nominees

2015 won a Royal Television Society award for his Inside Out documentary on Extremism

References[edit]

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Matt Baker
Blue Peter Presenter No. 32
2006–2011
Succeeded by
Barney Harwood