Anton du Beke: ‘I’m like Santa with the presents I buy!’
Anton du Beke talks parenthood, Strictly and going OTT at Christmas…
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