Toy Doll Pete’s the pick of mystery guests

Pete, number two, is picked from the line-up on the TV show Never Mind the Buzzcocks.
Pete, number two, is picked from the line-up on the TV show Never Mind the Buzzcocks.
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FORMER punk rocker Pete Zulu created a buzz when he appeared on a top TV quiz show.

The 57-year-old, who shot to fame as lead singer of The Toy Dolls in the 1980s, was seen by million of viewers on last night’s episode of BBC Two’s Never Mind the Buzzcocks.

Toy Dolls at Finos in 1985.

Toy Dolls at Finos in 1985.

The Hendon-born chef featured in the mystery guest segment of the irreverent pop quiz.

Team captains Professor Green and Phill Jupitus, along with fellow competitors from the worlds of music, TV and comedy, were shown a clip of the band performing their smash hit Nellie the Elephant.

Host Lee Mack then asked them to pick Pete from a line-up of lookalikes in the studio.

“They wanted me to do the show about a year ago, but I couldn’t make it,” said Pete.

“However, they got back in touch and I agreed to go down to London and record it.

“It was a strange feeling. They recreated the way I looked on Top of the Pops 20-odd years ago, which was a really surreal experience. I looked at myself in the mirror and couldn’t believe it.”

However, Pete said he enjoyed stepping back in time, with the panel successfully picking him out of the line-up.

“It seemed to take forever to record, about two-and-a-half hours,” he said.

“I was basically waiting in the wings to go out and have the panel take the mickey out of me, but it was all good fun.

“Chris Ramsey, who is a comedian from up here, was also on and he was a really nice bloke.

“It brought back a lot of memories for me, being back at the BBC.

“When I was last there we were on Top of the Pops with Madonna, when she was just starting out, and George Michael.

“But the place still looks the same. The dressing rooms haven’t changed a bit.”

As well as performing with The Toy Dolls, Pete has fronted a Tyne Tees cookery show and enjoyed a stint as a director and head chef at throwingstones, at the National Glass Centre.

Now he runs the Black Horse, in East Boldon, famed for its gastro pub food and eclectic decor, which includes everything from a pair of skis and old radios to ships in bottles and Ouija boards.

“I had a great time down there, but it’s often a bit bizarre,” added Pete. “It seems like another world sometimes.

“I was sat in a restaurant a couple of tables away Roman Abramovich, the Chelsea football club owner.

“But I was pretty much straight back to work after the show.

“It’s back to reality now.”

Twitter: @sunderlandecho

Toy Dolls

FORMED in 1979, The Toy Dolls first gig was at Millview Social Club, in Sunderland.

Departing from the angry lyrics and music often associated with punk, they often used it to express a sense of fun, with songs such as She Goes To Finos, My Girlfriend’s Dad’s a Vicar, and James Bond Lives Down Our Street.

They are probably best known for their cover of children’s favourite Nellie the Elephant, which reached number one in the UK Indie Chart in 1982.

In 1984, a re-issue of the song reached number four in the UK singles chart and stayed in the chart for 14 weeks.

Formed as a quartet in Sunderland, the early line-up was vocalist Pete “Zulu” Robson, guitarist Michael Algar, also known as Olga, drummer Colin “Mr Scott” Scott and bassist Phillip “Flip” Dugdale.

However, it changed repeatedly over the years, with Olga the only remaining original member.

The Toy Dolls still perform at venues and festivals around the world.