Why I love Margate with Ayo Akinwolere

In this edition, we catch up with television presenter Ayo Akinwolere who, despite the many cities he has worked in, resides in our very own beautiful Margate.


Perhaps best known for his 5-year role as a Blue Peter presenter, Ayo Akinwolere has worked on some of the country’s most loved shows including Total Wipeout, Coronation Street, The Weakest Link, Ready Steady Cook, The Great British Bake Off, Football Focus and Match of the Day.

In 2015, Ayo won a Royal Television Society Award for his Inside Out documentary on extremism and the 38-year-old spoke to us about his career highlights, current projects, his world record and, of course, why he loves Margate…


What are your earliest memories of getting involved in TV and when did you realise you wanted to pursue a career in television?

I moved to London in 2006 with a month’s work placement with The BBC but I didn’t know what was going to happen after.

I actually only had enough money in my pocket for a couple of months’ rent but I thought I’d take the chance and see what happened. I came to London as a runner working behind the camera and learning the ropes – that turned into two months and two months turned in to 10 years working in this industry. Lucky break, perhaps? I actually think you make your own luck in life.


From the many brilliant shows and awards you have won; do you have a top three most memorable moments from your career?

On Blue Peter, being invited to Buckingham Palace and hosting the presenters past and present to the Queen for Blue Peter’s 50th Birthday celebrations. I was head presenter at the time and I introduced everyone to Her Majesty. I’m not a huge royalist if I’m honest but you have to pat yourself on the back from time to time.

Blue Peter was an incredible first TV job! Through it I travelled to over 118 different cities in the world, managed to gain a skydiving license, a truck driver’s license and the best moment was setting a world record for being the first person in history to swim across the deepest stretch of ocean in the world. Very few moments in life have topped that.

One major regret, though, as much as I enjoyed it, was not completing the game show Total Wipeout. I featured in a celebrity edition many years ago and got to the final. I was head-to-head with former GB Heptathlete Dean Macey – only to get to the final and dislocate my shoulder on the first obstacle – he went on to win it and I’m still annoyed about that.

That was almost 9 years ago… who says I’m competitive?!


Can you inform readers about not just Milk First Productions and JUJU Music but your brilliant world record?

Milk First is our production company which we’re basing out of Margate to try and connect with some of the creative energy that exists here and amplify diverse stories from across the country. The big question is who puts the milk in before the tea bag? Hence we call the company Milk First.

JUJU Music has gone from strength to strength in Margate – starting at the art club 3 years ago as a way to celebrate music of my west African upbringing, but it’s grown to much more. I was a little worried about putting on a night where very few people would know much about the music genre, weirdly it was a huge success and before COVID-19 people were travelling far and wide to have a taste of the energy of JUJU Music. More importantly people from across Kent started to come in which made it even more special, hopefully we can do more soon.

The world record is simply a highlight, I’m actually looking at the certificate right now. I only learnt to swim at the age of 28 whilst I was on Blue Peter, as you know the show is created to inspire people from across the country to push themselves to the limit. So, I had 10 weeks to learn to swim but the major challenge would be a 5-mile swim across a stretch of water which was 11 miles deep. The Palau Trench is the opening to the deepest part of the ocean in the world, the Mariana Trench. I swam across it in 3.5 hours and as far as I know no one has done it or completed it since. It truly is my legacy to the world and hopefully to my kids one day.


What advice would you give someone looking to go into broadcasting?

Be yourself, find your niche, build your audience and remember it’s not all about TV. You have to be proactive and you have to be driven to connect with others, network and to be confident enough to believe in your work. There are so many other platforms other than TV right now, utilise them, build your brand and your style and then start looking to the TV industry once your audience is determined. But most of all try and enjoy that journey and study the success of others.


Being raised in Birmingham and travelling all over the country with work, what made you decide to move down and reside in Margate? 

I’d been living in London for 10 years and I felt like I needed a change, I knew only one person that lived in Margate. I came for 6 months and have stayed for 3 years. Much like my career it’s about taking that leap of faith and trying something new that puts you out of your comfort zone.


What do you enjoy most about living in Margate?

I love to swim and in summer the sea here is absolutely sublime. I also like the emerging community and incredible restaurants. The walks here are brilliant and I don’t just look to Margate, I look to this entire pocket of Kent. Each town and village offers something different and that’s what I really like. I just hope as Margate is developing at such a rapid rate, the people that lived here before aren’t forgotten.


Do you have a go-to venue, café, walk or favourite activity that you enjoy doing most in the town? 

I always tell my friends to go to the New Street Bistro – it’s such a great place to eat, but let’s face it, in Margate you are simply spoilt for choice of eateries.

I’m a big café guy as it’s a really nice way to people watch. Cliffs on Northdown Road is a staple, Forts is wonderful, as are Store Room, Ouma’s, Mar Mar and Skinny Dip Coffee. I’m really enjoying the growth of Northdown Road and Cliftonville as I think the old town gets a lot of the limelight. Cliftonville and its surrounding areas are finally getting some great places to eat drink and relax and that can only be a good thing.


How is the remainder of 2021 looking for you? Have you got any upcoming shows or projects that you are working on?

I’ve pivoted to sport and work for the Premier League hosting football shows and also for CBS in America where I host a show for the Europa League, they are all coming back in the autumn as well as the rugby work I’m doing for Channel 4 also.

Our first Documentary for Milk First which I’m producing came out in October on Channel 4 called ‘Yorkshire Copy: Police, Racism and Me’, it’s a really powerful story.


Keep up to date with all things Ayo Akinwolere by following the prolific presenter on Twitter @AyoAkinwo.

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