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Anton Du Beke: I’m the luckiest guy in the world doing Strictly and panto

Anton Du Beke in Cinderella in Richmond Theatre (Benjamin Mole)
Anton Du Beke in Cinderella in Richmond Theatre (Benjamin Mole)

Anton Du Beke has said he feels like the “luckiest guy in the world” starring in Strictly Come Dancing while also rehearsing for his pantomime debut this Christmas.

The professional dancer, 55, will play Buttons in a production of Cinderella at the Richmond Theatre in London during the festive period.

He also joined the judging panel for Strictly this series, stepping in for Bruno Tonioli, who was unable to take part due to travel uncertainty during the pandemic.

Discussing balancing the commitments of Strictly and the pantomime, Du Beke told the PA news agency: “I’m loving every second of it because I’m doing all my best things, I’m on stage and I’m doing Strictly Come Dancing, that’s like my favourite things in the world.

“I feel like the luckiest guy in the world and my children are going to come watch me in panto, good heavens above it’s the best thing in the world, happy Christmas to me.”

The dancer revealed that fellow Strictly judge Craig Revel Horwood, who has starred in a string of pantomimes over the years, has been offering him tips before the performance, saying that “big is better, big is best, big is brilliant” and, most importantly, to learn your lines.

The ballroom star added: “He is a bit of a pantomime villain on Strictly anyway so I’ll take that on, but my role as Buttons is a bit different to that so I shall be me.”

Rosemary Ashe, Anton Du Beke and Oonagh Turner in Cinderella (Benjamin Mole)

He explained that he has not had time to pursue pantomime before now because of his Strictly commitments, having been a fixture on the BBC One series since it began in 2004.

But the TV star did admit that moving from the dancefloor to the acting world was taking some adjustment, adding: “I’m normally making my connection through movements and steps, not many words.

Anton with his co-stars at the theatre (Benjamin Mole)

“(Here) there are lots of words and not many steps so it’s a whole new skill for me, which I’m really excited about because panto is great fun, and it’s a great production, (with) wonderful co-stars.”

Their classic pantomime adaptation of Disney’s Cinderella, which will feature comedy, extravagant costumes and plenty of audience interaction, also stars Olivier Award nominee Rosemary Ashe playing the Fairy Godmother and Oonagh Cox as Cinderella.

As Strictly’s longest-serving professional dancer, he confessed he did miss performing and putting together the choreography of the dance competition this year, but joked that he did not miss being voted out.

He explained: “I’ll tell you why I’m enjoying it (judging), because I’m loving being able to be part of the overall journey of the show. Watching them begin and go through, and having been part of that, it’s fascinating to see them all.

“Because when you’re doing your own number with your partner, you’re wrapped up in your own thing, rightly so, focused only on you. But when you’re judging and watching it from the outside, looking in, I can get an overview of all the couples and I’m really enjoying it.”

  • Cinderella will run at the Richmond Theatre in London from December 3 to January 2.

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