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Interview with Strictly Come Dancing judge Anton du Beke on his dream dance partners

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As the fab-u-lous four return to judge our celebrities on the Strictly Come Dancing ballroom floor, we caught up with Anton Du Beke to chat about this favourite Strictly moments, dream dance partners and hopes for series 20.

What’s your favourite thing about working on Strictly?

My absolute favourite thing about working on the show is the joy. The joy of the show, the joy it brings everybody, the joy it brings my family and the joy it brings me.

I can’t believe, well I can really, that it has been going for so long and still we have a new audience coming to it every year, a new generation that are growing up with the show. There’s a wonderful feeling around the show. I love that feeling of lifting everybody up, which I think was highlighted through lockdown. The sun shines when Strictly is on.

Do you remember your first day on the show?

I remember the first day I worked on the show back in 2004, I was dancing with Lesley Garrett and nobody really knew what to expect. It was a brand-new show and the most exciting thing for me was to be working with Bruce Forsyth, he was my absolute hero. To be able to dance on television on a Saturday night was something I never thought we’d be able to do. It was a dream really and the dream continues. I just absolutely love it now as much as I did 20 series ago.

Do you have a favourite dance either to dance or watch?

My favourite dance, to dance with a professional partner has always been the Slow Foxtrot. My favourite to dance on Strictly Come Dancing is the American Smooth, with the hats and canes.

The Couple’s Choice has been a great introduction to the show, it highlights the wonderful talent and it gives the choreographer great imagination and scope. It’s quite new, so I’ve only done it a little bit, but I love it.

On some very few occasions, I’ve got to do the Show Dance, but you’ve got to make the final for that, which has been tricky over the years!

I love the Charleston, that’s a great dance. It feels a bit like musical theatre, which is right up my street.

Do you have any standout moments from the last series?

It’s difficult to think about last year’s series without thinking about Rose and her incredible journey. I think the dance her and Giovanni won the BAFTA for was extraordinary, and there were other extraordinary moments through her Strictly journey.

Also watching John and Johannes dance together was an incredible thing.

Which celebrity would you love to dance with?

The person I’ve always really wanted to dance with and never have is Darcey Bussell. I thought we could have a wonderful collaboration, a fusion of styles. That’s something I’ve always secretly dreamed of being able to do, maybe sometime in the future.

Now you’re a judge do you ever miss being one of the professional dancers?

I’m loving judging on Strictly Come Dancing, it’s incredible. I do watch some of the pros do the numbers and get a bit of dance envy, thinking I wish I could have been a part of that. But judging is so much easier on the knees.

Are there any standout moments for you from previous series of Strictly?

There have been so many incredible standout moments, too many to remember really.

One of my personal favourite moments for me, was doing a number with Bruce Forsyth. We did Me and My Shadow together. That was a real career highlight and I can’t tell you how grateful I am to Strictly and Brucey for that.

Which of the judges would win in a dance off?

I would probably win the dance off. I have more experience in it than the other judges!

Strictly is returning to Blackpool, are you excited about that?

It’s exciting, it’s become the spiritual home of Ballroom dancing. We’ve had so many incredible nights at the Tower Ballroom. There are more people in the audience, there are extra dancers, it is quite a night. For me it’s an extra special night as it was where I got my first ten.

Do you have a favourite themed week?

I’ve always loved Movie week and Musicals week because I love putting together character numbers, so that was always my favourite week when I was competing. As a judge I also love those weeks because they allow the couple to go off and explore their favourite sort of movie and musicals style and genre and then put a number together.

There are 20 pros this year, what do you think that will bring to the show?

Having 20 pros is going to be amazing, chaotic and incredible! As a choreographer it gives you such opportunity and potential to create some incredible numbers. Visually it’s going to be spectacular. Those new four dancers are all brilliant and bring such enthusiasm and excitement, being on Strictly Come Dancing is a dancer’s dream.

How are you feeling about returning as a judge this year?

I’m delighted, elated, excited, proud, thrilled, to be coming back as a judge this year. It’s the most wonderful thing to be a part of. I feel honoured to have been on the show since the beginning and to now be on the judging panel.

You’ve been involved in the show from the beginning, how has it changed over the years?

It’s been incredible being involved in the show since the beginning. The show has evolved, there hasn’t been a revolution or a massive change. We started with eight couples and now we have 15. We didn’t have group numbers in the early days. The show has just sort of gently moved on and on.