An­ton du Beke: ‘I’m like Santa with the presents I buy!’

An­ton du Beke talks par­ent­hood, Strictly and go­ing OTT at Christ­mas…

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He’s Strictly’s most pop­u­lar pro­fes­sional dancer – ap­pear­ing in ev­ery se­ries since it be­gan in 2004. Over the years, An­ton du Beke has en­ter­tained us with hi­lar­i­ous com­edy rou­tines, part­ner­ing the likes of for­mer Tory MP Ann Wid­de­combe and ten­nis mum Judy Murray. But An­ton, who tours with dance part­ner Erin Boag, hasn’t al­ways played it for laughs – in 2015, he reached the fi­nal with Katie Der­ham. It was a blow when An­ton, 52, quick­stepped out in the first week this year with part­ner Su­san­nah Con­stan­tine, but he says his early exit has meant more fam­ily time with his wife, Hannah Sum­mers, and their twins, George and Hen­ri­etta, 19 months.

How do you feel this se­ries of is pan­ning out?

Strictly Faye [Tozer] and Ash­ley [Roberts] are such strong con­tes­tants, but ev­ery­one else is in the melt­ing pot. Nobody can af­ford to have a bad week be­cause they could be in the dance-off. Ev­ery week, it’s go­ing to be, ‘ Wow! I didn’t ex­pect him or her to be there!’ The au­di­ence at home have had the big­gest role ever this year. It’s re­ally ex­cit­ing.

Any dream part­ners? Kar­ren Brady told us you’d like to dance with her…

Ha, yes – she said she’d be aw­ful. I told her, ‘ You’d be just An­ton and for­mer judge Len are good mates fine with me.’ I think she’d be fun! But I don’t have a list. I’ve had a lot of in­cred­i­ble ladies over the years that I’d never have thought about danc­ing with. And I loved it.

Do you ever have aches and pains?

I’ve been lucky – but I look af­ter my­self, I go to the gym and have an in­cred­i­ble fit­ness trainer, Jes­sica Blake. I see her two or three times a week. With­out her, I wouldn’t be able to stay as I am. I don’t drink, don’t smoke and I eat well. I’ve cut back on re­fined sugar, too.

Are you still in touch with Len?

Len’s a great friend. He’s over in Amer­ica right now, but we were tex­ting each other the other evening.

So, what’s it like, be­ing a first-time dad in your 50s?

The best! I wasn’t mas­sively into chil­dren be­fore I had my own, but now I must be the most be­sot­ted dad of all time. I love ev­ery sec­ond of it. It’s amaz­ing watch­ing them grow, try­ing to steer them along the cor­rect path. I hate be­ing apart from them.

Is it ‘dou­ble trou­ble’ with twins?!

I don’t find them tir­ing – even

with the odd sleep­less night. They’re so funny. But you can’t take your eye off them for a sec­ond, or they’re whizzing around the room! It’s a job shared. Hannah is a fabulous mum, and I’m hands-on. I don’t mind be­ing left alone with them for a week­end. No nanny, just me and the ba­bies. The twins see me on telly and you get a lovely re­ac­tion, but when I’m not at home, we do a lot of FaceTim­ing. They’re used to see­ing me on screen!

Would you like more kids?

I don’t know… We’ve got a boy and a girl. If I was younger, I’d have an­other 50 of them. I love fa­ther­hood, but it’s not some­thing we’re plan­ning.

And how’s mar­ried life?

It took us a while to get mar­ried – we’ve been to­gether for six-and-a-half years – but I love it. It does feel dif­fer­ent. I al­ways felt that if you’re with some­one and not mar­ried, you were two peo­ple co-ex­ist­ing. Now, I just feel like we are

You had an al­bum out last year and you’ve just writ­ten your first novel. You don’t like sit­ting still…

Va­ri­ety is key! I loved mak­ing my al­bum – I was in­spired by peo­ple like Bru­cie and Sammy Davis Jr. And my novel, One En­chanted Evening, was an­other thing I’d wanted to do for ever. It’s a passion project, set around a Lon­don ho­tel ball­room in the lead up to the Sec­ond World War.

Where will you be cel­e­brat­ing Christ­mas?

At home with Hannah and the twins, and her par­ents are com­ing for Christ­mas lunch. I can’t wait! I’m ridicu­lous with Christ­mas any­way – I love dec­o­rat­ing. We’ll have three or four trees scat­tered around the house. I don’t cook a thing, though. Hannah is the cook, and she’s amaz­ing at it.

Do you go big on gifts?

I go mad with presents and give away hun­dreds – I’m lit­er­ally like Santa. I get car­ried away and have to rein my­self in. Es­pe­cially now I have chil­dren. They were very lit­tle last year, but this year they might un­der­stand it a bit more. I oc­ca­sion­ally get it wrong with Hannah, though. She’s not un­grate­ful, but some­times she’ll say, ‘I hope you kept the re­ceipt for this…’

An­ton wed Hannah last year…

… and now, he’s a dad of twins

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