INTERVIEW: Strictly's Anton Du Beke talks babies, bums and going from Broadway to Hollywood with Total MK

He has been entertaining audiences of more than 11 million weekly for years, but even by those successful standards, 2017 proved to be a terrific year for Strictly Come Dancing star Anton Du Beke.

Aside from hitting the floor (in more ways than one) with Strictly partner Ruth Langsford, he became a father to twins, and smashed the album charts with his debut album From the Top.

This Wednesday (Feb 7), Anton dances back into Milton Keynes with dance partner Erin Boag, to deliver their new show From Broadway to Hollywood.

It's their 10th year touring together, and audiences are once again flocking to venues countrywide to be dazzled by some traditional style.

They will be joined on stage by a ready gang of ensemble dancers, Strictly vocalist Lance Ellington, and a full orchestra.

There is no flashy stage set. It's not necessary.

“We feel that the dressing of the stage is with the is very stylish and has an old style charisma about it.”

“We love that style and feel,” Anton says, “Nobody else has a bigger orchestra on stage, and the fact the audience can see the orchestra and listen to them play adds another dimension to the show, rather than them being in the pit.

Aside from the fancy footwork on parade, an evening without Anton and Erin is also full of warmth, laughter and interaction.

Audience members are encouraged to contribute questions for Anton and Erin during the interval, and they are never short of contributions.

“It saves queuing for a drink, I suppose!” he says with a little giggle.

“It's lovely that people go and take the time to write them. It makes the show unique for every venue and gives us a connection with the audience.

“I don't know what it is, but this show feels like it has got a massive energy about it.”

As an undisputed star of Strictly, Anton has had some familiar faces in hold over the years. But dancing aside, who has he learned the most from?

“I've danced with some incredible women, so that's a very difficult question really," he thinks.  "The first person I danced with was Lesley Garrett, and it's because of Lesley that I got back into singing again. “Then I went to Esther Rantzen who taught me so much about television, and she is such a bright, funny woman, and Kate Garroway, who I love.

"Ann Widdecombe...wonderful.  Ruth last year, incredible. And Judy Murray, who is possibly the loveliest woman you'll ever meet in your life.”

And after 14 series of the BBC show, Anton has yet to be paired with a partner that he hasn't gelled with.

“If you've got someone who is a bit disinterested and not engaging, the whole process becomes a bit of a waste of time.

“But there isn't one person who I've thought 'I'd rather be somewhere else,' about.  I've had the best time with them.
“Strictly is an incredible show and I love doing it.”

It's all a long way from Anton's first steps in dance. The attraction initially?

“Girls essentially,” he says, laughing again, “It was a room full of girls, which is quite appealing when you are 13 years old. It does things to you as an adolescent boy!

“Essentially though, I was very sporty growing up – I played football for the school, I played cricket, and ballroom dancing is competitive as well and I loved that side of it.

"I still like it now.

“I love dancing with a partner and although you do it in other forms of dance as well, there is nothing like ballroom dancing.”

And now Anton has another string to his bow – with a glowing debut album under his belt.

From The Top is a trip into the classic songs that have inspired him throughout his career, from Me and My Shadow to Something Stupid.

Releasing the album must have been a dream come true, we suggest.

“Oh God, not many!” is the boom in response, “I was lucky enough to do a song on Strictly to start the show during musicals week, the series before last.

"That was the catalyst to get with Polydor and put the album together. It's something I'd been broaching for a couple of years with various people, but sometimes you just need someone to nudge you in the right direction.

"It has been really well received and I am so delighted with it.”

People probably weren't expecting an Arctic Monkeys number nestled among the tracklisting though, but his version of I Bet You Think That You Look Good on the Dancefloor is inspired.

“I have to give Polydor complete credit for that, but the arrangement is so brilliant...”

Has there been any feedback from the Monkeys themselves?

“I think they love it!” Anton says, “I think they'd like me to do a duet with them.”

Anton has more of a spring in his step than usual, thanks to the arrival of twins last year.

“I love every second of it. Hannah, my wife, is amazing, she is the thing that holds everything together.”

And life on the road is Is being made easier thanks to the technology at our disposal: “If I'm away I can FaceTime and see them, they are wonderful.  It makes things much easier."

For a man who spent much of his 20s and 30s 'penniless with just a lot of dreams,' life today really is a dream come true.

“There is an element of luck and good fortune, but you've got to be ready to take that good fortune with two hands. Often people get opportunities but don't realise it.

“You've got to work hard, and be as brilliant as you can be all the time...”

And it helps if you are quite pert too.

He chuckles at the reference to the Rear of the Year title, which he bagged in 2011.

“You've got to do your squats or it all goes south! I got Rear of the Year which I wasn't surprised about, but I got Weird Crush too! I didn't win that – I came second.

"James May from Top Gear was Number One. I don't know if I was flattered or offended, but it made me laugh!”


To book tickets to see Anton and Erin in From Broadway to Hollywood click here 


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