Strictly’s Anton on the expensive suit habit that links him to King Charles
Anton Du Beke likes to get things right. A self-confessed perfectionist, Strictly Come Dancing’s newest and arguably most popular judge always gives 100 percent. From his flawless foxtrots to his witticisms, Anton aims to please.
He has worked hard to get where he is today, and he’s determined to excel and enjoy his role in equal measure.
“I feel as determined about this as I did when I was competing and trying to win,” he confides. “I am trying to be the best I can be. I don’t want anyone to ever think I wasn’t trying my best – that makes me feel a bit sick.”
Anton makes a point of being ready 30 minutes before he’s required on stage. “I like to be ready for what we call ‘on the half’. Half an hour before we open.”
Not only is he well prepared, he also makes sure he is presented as impeccably as his hero, Fred Astaire.
He famously gets his tailored shirts on Jermyn Street, like King Charles, and for the new series, he’ll have a special treat for every broadcast.
“I’ll have two new jackets every weekend,” he smiles. “That’s very exciting. I love a new jacket. Clothes are massively important. I think about Fred Astaire and all the things he used to wear. That’s where my great inspiration comes from. He’s the ultimate – that’s who I wanted to be when I was growing up.
Anton has come a long way from the council estate days of his childhood and he now lives in Buckinghamshire with 46-year-old Hannah, his wife of nearly seven years, and their twins George and Henrietta. He didn’t become a father until he was 50, but Anton says his children have changed his life.
“I love it,” says Anton. “They’re six-and-a-half now. I just think it’s the best thing. They’re wonderful. Everyone thinks this about their own children, but I think they are pretty marvellous. It is all about them, really, that’s what is brilliant about my life.”
Anton has just finished performing at the Edinburgh Fringe and is about to return to his most high-profile gig – sitting alongside Craig Revel Horwood, Shirley Ballas and Motsi Mabuse on Strictly’s judging panel. He’s been on the show since the first series, when he partnered opera singer Lesley Garrett, and this will be his 21st run.
“I’ve felt the same about it since day one. I’ve always loved it,” says Anton.
Since its launch in 2004, Strictly Come Dancing has outlasted all its Saturday-night competitors and still attracts top names like this year’s Amanda Abbington, Angela Rippon and Layton Williams, while championing careers of less mainstream stars.
Every year, celebrities who have graduated from stage school or danced in theatre are accused of having an unfair advantage. But Anton – the only judge to have competed – reveals he’s almost always surprised by the competition’s eventual winner.
“I didn’t pick Hamza (Yassin – 2022 champion) to win early doors,” Anton admits. “He grew into it. I didn’t pick Stacey (Dooley – 2018 champion), she was a grower. I rarely pick the winner early doors.”
This year’s line-up – which also includes Krishnan Guru-Murthy, Eddie Kadi, Zara McDermott, Adam Thomas, Ellie Leach, Nigel Harman, Annabel Croft and Les Dennis – is being hotly anticipated and EastEnders star Bobby Brazier and TV presenter Angela Scanlon are currently the bookies’ favourites.
Once again, Anton applauds the BBC for the diversity. “It’s got something for everyone,” says Anton. “We’ve covered the whole spectrum. You’ve got 20-somethings, then you’ve got the wonderful Angela Rippon, legend of our screens.”
Angela is the show’s oldest contestant ever at 79, but Anton doesn’t think this will hold her back, and fondly remembers 2016 contestant Lesley Joseph as being one of his best students.
“Lesley was in her seventies and she was as bright as a button,” says Anton. “She was the quickest person I’ve ever danced with to pick up a routine and the oldest person I ever danced with. Age doesn’t hold you back.”
Anton, who is 57, is not planning to let time stop him either, and hopes to continue working into his eighties, just like his late mentor Sir Bruce Forsyth. “I’ll carry on because I just love it,” he says. “It’s a great, lovely experience.”
Sir Bruce, who presented Strictly until 2013 and died in 2017, aged 89, was a consummate entertainer and Anton has taken inspiration from the TV legend. Earning a knighthood like Sir Bruce would be the ultimate honour. “It would make my life,” he says.
Strictly Come Dancing's launch show airs on Saturday 16th September on BBC One, with the full series starting on Saturday 23rd September.
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