Anton Du Beke is one of Strictly Come Dancing’s few constants over the last 11 years, appearing in all 13 series of the BBC One reality show, bringing plenty of ballroom sparkle and a dazzling smile – even when partnered with Ann Widdecombe!
The King of the Ballroom is famous for usually getting lumbered with celebrities with two left feet and the grace and poise of hippos on ice, but in 2015 he remains in the contest with three weeks to go and has a serious chance of making the final with BBC radio star Katie Derham. Could 2015 finally be Anton’s year?
To celebrate the ballroom hoofer’s enduring appeal, here are 10 surprising facts about Anton that you probably didn’t know.
1. Anton’s real name is Anthony Paul Beke and he was born in 1966 in Sevenoaks, Kent to Hungarian father Antal and Spanish mother, Ascensión. In his pre-dancing days, he was known as the rather less glam sounding Tony Beke.
2. His early jobs included working as a baker, a painter and decorator and a furniture salesman. Apparently he still has a passion for getting up to his elbows in yeast and baking bread - move over Paul Hollywood!
3. Describing his reasons for taking up dance at the age of 14, Anton openly admits that the lure of spending time with girls was a top priority after attending an all-boys school.
“I walked into a room full of lovely girls and thought well, this looks rather good! So, I signed up and the rest is history!” he told Kent Life in 2010.
4. In 2011 Anton took home his most prestigious trophy – the Rear of the Year award. Countdown star Carol Vorderman shared the honours.
Du Beke’s behind has the privilege of being ranked alongside other former winners such as Frank Skinner, Robbie Williams, Olly Murs and Ronan Keating.
5. Anton always insists on training in a shirt and tie. “It is just what I’ve always done, it helps me find my form,” claims the debonair dancer.
However, he might be open to breaking with tradition after seeing some of new pro Gleb Savchenko’s less conventional outfits.
“We are are going to have a wardrobe exchange one day.” He told What’s On TV. “I’ll be wearing a baseball hat backwards, vest and jogging bottoms with a low crotch."
6. Anton gets some very odd fan mail from his adoring Strictly fans. On top of the standard declarations of love and marriage proposals, he has apparently also had “lots off offers to wash my back in the shower”.
Another gift from a fan was even more odd.
“I got sent some cheese once. I’m not sure if that was saying something about my act, or just because I like cheese.”
7. If he wasn’t a ballroom dancer Anton might have been a boxer. He was a nifty amateur although he claims that he had to give it up because “with a head shaped like mine, it was too easy to get hit”.
Meanwhile, Anton’s mother realised that his dancing career was serious when he retired from amateur football to protect his knees.
8. Anton claims that the biggest misapprehension about his life is that he is gay.
“Hannah [my girlfriend[ laughs at that one and even [dance partner] Erin [Boag] thought I was a flopsy when we met,” he told the Daily Mail last year.
“It might be because I mince about, but a little mince never does any harm!”
9. Despite appearing in all 13 series of Strictly, Anton has never reached a final. His best performance came way back in series one when he finished third with Lesley Garrett. His average point score on the show is a measly 22.31, the lowest for any pro who has done more than two series.
10. Anton is very loyal about Strictly Come Dancing, the show that turned him into a star. However, he was very critical of one mis-step from the programme – the decision to hire Donny Osmond as a guest judge in 2014.
“When Donny Osmond came in it wasn’t the greatest thing to happen,” he told the Telegraph.
“The viewers thought it was odd when he started judging. Strictly is about continuity and he has no history with the show here [in Britain]. I don’t want guest judges. They just need to make sure they have someone from a dance background on the panel.”