“It was fantastic to see Anton sitting on the podium. I was absolutely delighted darling that finally he got the chance.” Strictly Judge Craig Revel Horwood speaking recently about Strictly professional Anton du Beke filling in for judge Motsi Mabuse. And so say all of us!
Read more: Strictly Come Dancing 2020
With his impish sense of humour and immense dancing knowledge Anton shone in the role – with many Strictly fans calling for five judges next year!
Anton said afterwards: “'I loved every second of it. It was lovely to be able to sit there and enjoy the dancing and then comment on all the things I love about it, which was always going to be my steer about it.”
Chatting with Anton you can’t help but be encouraged by his enthusiasm for life. While he exercises every day, he believes positivity has helped to get him where he is today.
“I always try to have a positive mindset. If you want to go somewhere, make a decision now about how you are going to get there. You will find you are on a better path than if you do nothing and stay as you are. I have always been the sort of person that thinks that you can eventually do what you like.
“You can achieve whatever you want to achieve, you just have to focus on it, and have a determination for it, and plough on. If you want to do something, you should do it. As Covid has shown us, you never know what is around the corner. No one expected anything like this. If you have a dream or anything you want to achieve, then do it. Covid-19 has been a shock to us all and life changing.”
He has always joked that he will never willingly give up working on Strictly, now in its 18th year, and would still turn up at the studio even if he is retired from the show.
However, in recent years, his personal life has become a priority. Married to Hannah Summers, a marketing executive, in 2017, the couple have twins, George and Henrietta, now three, and they are the centre of his world.
Anton (54) says: “Yes, of course I love my work and it is my oxygen, but I was away from home in a hotel for a month when we were filming all the group dances in a bubble and that was so difficult being away from the children. But when I’m not at home, in the Strictly studio, or away touring, we do a lot of family Face Timing.”
The dancer spent lockdown at home in Burnham Beeches, Buckinghamshire with his family. He kept himself busy with his online YouTube Fit at 50 sessions and his Elevenses with Anton dance classes.
He says: “They were amazing to keep me in shape during the lockdown period. I don’t want to sound gushing but I was very lucky that I could be with Hannah and the babies. We had a wonderful time. Time goes so quickly with children and there was nothing like spending that time with the children at this age. I feel blessed. But I was always confident that Strictly was going to come back, even earlier in the year. I keep thinking this whole thing, coronavirus, can’t keep going on…and it keeps going on.” He shrugs.
Anton shows no signs of stopping and credits fatherhood with making him feel youthful.
He smiles: “I love everything about it. It’s a brilliant thing. I like to think I’m an excellent dad but you’d have to ask my wife - and my children!”
He reveals George and Henrietta have now started nursery. “It was the first year, school uniforms, and all of that. It was a massive thing and we were there with all the other parents, meeting the teacher.
“The babies were very good about going into school and it’s been the best thing for them. During lockdown the worst thing for them was not spending time with other three-year-olds. They need to be around their own peer group. It’s imperative. Now they are at school, they are loving it.”
So after this year’s Strictly what’s next for Anton? Next January (going to check this) he is set to go on the road with his long-term partner Erin Boag, with whom he loves doing shows, for three months and then in June and July, he will be touring with his fellow Strictly professional dancer Giovanni Pernice in a song and dance show called Him and Me.
He says: “It’s going to be tremendous. We will be performing wonderful numbers, and we’ll have a lovely repartee on stage. Giovanni is one of my favourite people in the world. Then after that, I’m doing a one-man show.”
Another project that fired him up in lockdown was completing his latest book, A Christmas To Remember, the third in his series of bestselling romantic historical novels set in the Buckingham Hotel in Thirties London centred on dance character Raymond de Guise.
He says: “I am thrilled with this book. I’ll just keep going and there are more books to come. I love working on it, and talking about it, developing the characters and the journey they go on.
“There is an engagement at the beginning of this book – and at the end, there is a Christmas wedding. In between you have all the shenanigans of what’s going on in the hotel, and the hotel director, Maynard Charles, has got big story this time as well.”
Christmas time is his favourite season. He says: “The children are really into Father Christmas now. They get it. We were talking about presents back in September!
“We go Christmas tree buying at the beginning of December; we have a lovely nursery near us and they have a reindeer. I always end up buying three or four trees. It’s going to be the best time. I am like Santa Claus really. I can’t wait.”