Strictly Come Dancing favourite Anton Du Beke is back on the road with his professional partner, Erin Boag. Here he tells all on marriage proposals, big personalities and why he’ll never quit the hit BBC1 dance show…
You’ve been professional dance partners with Erin Boag since 1997 – longer than some marriages! What’s the key to success?
The thing is we don’t have to live together, so that makes it easier than a marriage! Perhaps that’s the key to a happy marriage – don’t live together! We both share the same goals – we both want to be the best we can be and put on the best shows we can and dance the best we can in competitions. In most other ways we’re quite different and it hasn’t always been the smoothest of rides, but that shared goal is what’s kept us together and made us a great partnership.
How long does it take to put together a show like Just Gotta Dance?
We started putting the show together in the Summer, so that’s when we ran through ideas and showshaping and auditioned dancers to join the company. Then I went off to do Strictly and Erin worked with the director and put together the costumes. Then we’re back in intensive rehearsals at the beginning of January, which I love. I really enjoy being in the studio putting a show together with everyone from the dancers to the musical director, and being inspired by fantastic creative people.
Did you enjoy the most recent series of BBC1’s Strictly Come Dancing, with Katie Derham, more than most because of your great scores?
I love it every time. It’s all about the celebrities I’m paired with and they are always pretty great. Katie was a joy – she wanted to be as good as she could be and didn’t want to get to the end and wonder what if she had tried harder. So that’s all you can ask for. I’m still in touch with some of my previous partners, so I saw Judy Murray the other day and I spoke to Ann Widecombe and I bumped into Kate Garaway too, which was great. Their scores may not have been the highest, but in their own way they were the stars of the show. You tend to forget who won after a while, but you remember the big personalities.
You always look so relaxed, but do you ever get nervous before you go on stage on Strictly?
I wouldn’t say nervous exactly, but I get a sense of excitement and heightened sense of awareness, especially as it’s a dance I’ve only been practising for a short time. So I have to focus the mind and get into the zone before I go on stage.
Can you ever imagine not doing Strictly Come Dancing?
I will continue to do it as long as it’s on. Even if they don’t want me any more I’ll just keep turning up and bring my own partner! I’ve been extremely lucky to be in the show since the beginning and I have the best job in the world really.
Who’s your best friend from Strictly Come Dancing away from the cameras?
Probably Brendan Cole, because we’ve both been in it from the start and we get on very well. I’ve also known Len Goodman for years and so I consider him a good friend as well.
What’s the strangest piece of fan mail you’ve been sent?
I’ve had quite a few marriage proposals, though I’ve never been tempted, I’m afraid to say! I also get sent advice on how to coach my celebrity partner. So people will write to me and say, ‘You want to do this…’ or ‘Have you tried that…?’ Which is always quite funny; it’s as if I’d have never thought of it myself!
What’s the most surprising thing about you that your fans may not know?
I was an excellent baker once upon a time. I’m a terrible cook, but a good baker. I’d like to do a celebrity version of Great British Bake Off but I might have an unfair advantage because it was my job to bake breads and confectionary for a few years, from the age of about 17. I started as a trainee and worked my way up to become a skilled baker.
If you hadn’t have become a dancer, what would you be doing now?
I’d probably be unemployed! No, I think I would have done something sporty. I like that performance aspect and having to step up to the plate in a competitive arena. I love the thrill of that.
Can you describe your ideal lazy weekend?
I’m not very good at lazing around, I like to keep active. So I like to spend time with my girlfriend and play tennis, and I’m a big golf fan. My girlfriend isn’t a golfer yet, but I’m hoping she’ll get into that too. Of course I love going to the theatre as well.
Anton Du Beke and Erin Boag’s new show, Just Gotta Dance, tours the UK from January including: Sat 23 Jan: GUILDFORD G live; Sat 6 Feb LONDON Barbican Hall; Sun 7 Feb AYLESBURY Waterside Theatre; Sun 21 Feb MILTON KEYNES Theatre; Sun 28 Feb WOKING New Victoria Theatre; Thurs 17 Mar READING The Hexagon.