Celeb couple Oli Pettigrew and Linda Black: Adoption made our family complete

It’s a brand-new beginning for the celeb couple and their two tweenagers who have set up home in southwest America.

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It wasn’t too long ago that power couple Linda Black, 42, and Oli Pettigrew, 36, used to rule the small screen as sought after event hosts and TV presenters.

Oli, a Hongkong-born Englishman, is best known for hosting Cash Cab Asia, while his wife, US-born ex-model Linda, was a resident presenter on HBO Signature and Discovery Channel Asia. The couple are parents to Ewan and Tia (whom they adopted), both 9.

Faced with the rising cost of living in Singapore, the seasoned artistes moved to Texas, USA, in 2014, as Oli got a permanent gig presenting Right This Minute, a show that shares the best viral videos from around the world. The Pettigrews moved to Arizona last year.

Oli notes, “Work is awesome. The show has really grown up over the years and it’s extremely fun. It’s easy because its suits my personality and it’s improvised, which I love. It’s exactly what I’ve been hoping for.”

It’s not just Oli who has found something he’s passionate about. Linda, who does the lion’s share of caring for their kids, is also pursuing her first love ― writing. Right now, she’s putting the finishing touches to the sequel to her first urban fantasy novel, Deathwish, which was published in 2006. Looks like the avid author is on a roll as she’s already started work on her third book and has four more in the pipeline.  “Now all I need is a literary agent to represent me, which is in progress,” she enthuses.

So, what else have these genetically-gifted duo been up to ever since they left the Lion City? SmartParents catches up with them on Skype as they get candid about life in the desert. The pair also touch on their continued advocacy to create more awareness about adoption…  

Hi Oli and Linda, greetings from Singapore! How is life in Arizona?

Linda: I didn’t know much about the place before we moved there last August. Honestly, it’s a desert and it’s very hot. It was 47 deg C the first week we got her ― it was awful ― I hated it. So, the first couple of months we just stayed in and tried to settle in. After living in Texas for two years, my son loved being back in the city with buildings and trains. My daughter, who got used to country life in Texas, missed the country life and the cousins and friends she made there.

Oli: I moved to Arizona first and I’ve been here for a couple of years. I was flying back and forth to Texas almost every weekend. Then my show got picked up by ABC and we signed a multi-deal, which is when I committed to flying the family in. We bought a house right down the road from the studio. So instead of flying thousands of miles every weekend now I only have to travel three miles down the road and I’m back with my family. It’s good.

Was it hard getting used to your new environment?

Linda: When we first got to Texas in 2014, Oli and I still had contracts in Singapore, so we were flying back and forth from January until October, every month. When we finally finished our contracts, it was really difficult for me to calm down to a slower pace of life. It took me a long time to get used to it. But on the upside, when we lived in Texas for the first two years, we were living just down the road from my mother so, I saw her every day. She got to see my children and they formed a great relationship. Eventually, I calmed down to a nice little role that I had carved out for myself, which I never thought I would.

I have such fond memories of Singapore. I miss it quite a bit, not just the lifestyle, but the closeness of our friends, the culture and the food!

How about the kids? How did you help them settle in?

Linda: We started Adventure Saturdays! All week, Oli has go to work and the kids have to go to school, so on Saturdays, we do something significant or something we know our kids would like, such as visiting museums or exploring the desert. It helped all of us settle into a routine and look forward to the weekends.

Why the decision to move to the US?

Linda: We were doing fairly well in Singapore, but my son is on the autism spectrum and we realised that some of the services he needs may be a little be more difficult to get in Singapore. Plus, Oli was ready to move at this stage in his career as well, and having been in Singapore since 2004, I hadn’t seen my family that much.

Do you miss life in Singapore?

Linda: I have such fond memories of Singapore. I miss it quite a bit, not just the lifestyle, but the closeness of our friends, the culture and the food! We’d been there for 13 years. School was quite expensive especially since Ewan is on the spectrum and he had to go to a special school. We did it for a few months and I realised it was just unsustainable. Also, I didn’t want my son and daughter to go to different schools. Here, they go to the same school, although I know they will come home with different experiences.

You are one of the few celebrities who have been open about adopting your daughter, Tia. How did you get involved with fostering and adoption?

Linda: Ewan was about 1½ years old when I had friend who was fostering. She was an American who lived in Singapore and was involved with a charity that was placing children who had an immediate need for a safe place to live while paperwork was being drawn up for adoption. Basically, these were babies who had been abandoned in hospital. The charity  would call up and ask if we could take the baby. It could be for a few days to a few weeks or months. The more she talked to me about it, the more I was in love with the idea. Also, Oli and I had said from the very beginning, even while we were dating, that we were open to the idea of adoption. So I checked out the charity, it was called Sanctuary House then, but they have since changed their names [Boys' Town, another charity, has since taken over its foster care service.]. I brought home the paperwork and we became foster parents. We signed up for it in September and in December we got our first baby!