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Strictlys Anton regrets never lifting glitterball trophy

Strictly: Anton Du Beke says he ‘prefers sitting and watching’

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He reveals: “I’m sorry I’ve never got my hands on it. Every time I look at it, I see everyone else’s names on there and I’ve never had the chance to put mine on.” Despite coming within touching distance in 2019, when he reached the final with EastEnders actress Emma Barton, he was the first to be voted out last year when he was partnered with former Home Secretary Jacqui Smith.

He says: “The only thing I’ve won is a celebrity version on Children in Need, when I danced with Tess Daly and we had a shoot-out with Sir Terry Wogan and Flavia Cacace in 2008. But Terry was hampered – his knees had gone and his hips were hurting – so basically we beat a guy who could only stand upright!” After years of dancing on the BBC show, fan
favourite Anton, 55, last year briefly stood in for judge Motsi Mabuse when she had to quarantine in Germany.

And in the current series he replaced Italian judge Bruno Tonioli, who lives in the US and had to pull out due to ­uncertainty over travel restrictions.

Alongside presenter Tess Daly and Craig Revel Horwood, Anton is one of the show’s originals since the dance competition was launched in 2004.

He says: “At the start no one in the dance business wanted it, they thought it would last five minutes.

“But before we knew it, it was a massive success and there were two series in the first year. It was unbelievable.

“It has changed my life professionally and personally because everything is geared around it and has been that way for a long time.

“I have never taken it for granted and I always try to do the right thing by the show.” Asked who he thinks will scoop the glitterball this year, Anton said: “It’s anyone’s guess who might win this year, it’s absolutely up for grabs.”

He adds: “People are being brilliant consistently, but not the same people every week.

“It makes it unpredictable and really exciting. I think Adam [Peaty] had a bit more to give. He had lots of good things going on for him.

“He just needed to nail it all together on the night and he was never able to.”

Becoming a judge has given him more time at home with his wife Hannah Summers and their four-year-old twins, George and Henrietta.

“I can go in and judge the show on the Saturday. Being in the bubble last year with the professional dancers for a month was hard.”

Anton puts the show’s ongoing success down to its feel-good factor.

He says: “Strictly is magical and casts its spell on the audience each year.”

But he confesses to missing the dancefloor. “Dancing is the thing I feel quite bereft about. There is nothing quite like walking on the floor with your partner, the band strikes up and you dance. And if you’ve pulled off a great number, the audience get to their feet.”

He makes his panto debut on December 4 at the Richmond Theatre, London, as Buttons in Cinderella.

He says: “I’m singing a couple of songs and I’ll be doing a song-and-dance number, too. It’s the first time I’ve done a panto as I never had time before.”

Anton also goes on the road with his production Showtime with his professional partner Erin Boag in January, and this month is promoting We’ll Meet Again, the fourth novel in his best-selling romantic saga.

 Cinderella plays at Richmond Theatre from December 4 to January 2.

 We’ll Meet Again, published by Zaffre, in Hardback, eBook and Audio, £18.99

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