'Strictly Come Dancing' judge Anton du Beke: 'Christmas is going to be tremendous!'

Strictly Anton Du Beke
Anton Du Beke can't wait for the 'Strictly Come Dancing' Christmas special. (Image credit: BBC)

There’s plenty of glitter and sparkle in the Christmas TV schedules with not one but TWO helpings of Strictly Come Dancing

After what's been an incredible series, Saturday (Dec.18th) sees the Strictly Come Dancing 2021 final, where the remaining celebrities Rose Ayling-Ellis, John Whaite, and AJ Odudu, will battle it out for the coveted Glitterball trophy. 

Then, on Christmas Day, six shiny new famous faces will take to the floor for the Strictly Come Dancing 2021 Christmas Special

Judge Anton du Beke has had a ball on the judging panel this year and, for him, Strictly's festive edition really will be the star on top of the Christmas tree (and he LOVES a Christmas tree, more on that later!).

In an exclusive interview with TV Times, Anton - currently playing Buttons in Cinderella at the Richmond Theatre - looks back on his most memorable moments from Strictly 2021 and ahead to the festive season…

How excited are you about the 'Strictly' final?

“It's going to be a tremendous final because we’ve had such a high level of dancing this year. The great thing is that the leaderboard has been so volatile; someone who’s been bottom one week has gone straight to the top the following week. That will make the final really exciting.”

What’s been your standout performance this year?

“AJ’s waltz was incredible and Rose has done a couple of tremendous ballroom dances. I also really enjoyed Greg Wise’s American Smooth. He came out in a tail-suit and I wished it was me out there. I think John and Johannes’ pirate paso doble has been their best dance of the series.”

Strictly Come Dancing Rose and Giovanni

Anton reckons Rose has been 'tremendous'. (Image credit: BBC)

Which partnerships have really stood out for you?

“It’s been a lovely year in as much as I couldn't have imagined the individual celebs dancing with anybody else. I can't imagine Tom not dancing with Amy, or John dancing with anyone other than Johannes. And Graziano dancing with Judi was perfect. Giovanni and Rose are lovely, Kai’s done really well with AJ, and Dan and Nadiya look so elegant together. Sometimes you think: ‘I wonder if he’d have done better with her’. But not this year. All the pros and celebrities’ personalities have synchronised beautifully and that’s why this series has worked.”

Has anyone blown you away unexpectedly?

“I think we all said: ‘Wow! We weren’t expecting that’ when AJ came out with her jive in week one. And Rose has been a revelation as well, being deaf. Everybody watching the show was interested to see how that was going to work for her and it’s been breathtaking. And we all wanted to see what John and Johannes were going to do together and that’s been a revelation as well. There’s been a lot of fascinating stories this year that have taken the show up a level.”

Strictly Come Dancing AJ

Anton has been blown away by presenter AJ. (Image credit: BBC)

How have you found this series as a judge?

“I've enjoyed it enormously, not least because I love not getting voted off! I love watching the couples develop and giving them advice on how they can move forward. If they do a perfect heel turn, I mention it, because then they know it was time well spent in training. I’d love to come back as a judge next year - but that’s for the people upstairs to talk about!”

John Johannes Strictly

Anton thinks John and Johannes' paso doble was their best performance. (Image credit: BBC)

And are you looking forward to your first Christmas Special as a judge?

“I LOVE the Christmas Special. It’s such a beautiful show and there’s something really special about being on telly on Christmas Day. I know my children [Anton is father to four-year-old twins George and Henrietta] will love seeing me dressed up in a festive outfit!”

This year’s Christmas stars include First Dates’ Fred Sirieix and TV presenter Mel Giedroyc. What do you make of the line-up?

“The Christmas Special is a lovely way to get people into the show. I think Fred is going to be amazing and will look fabulous. It'd be lovely to get him to do a whole series. Mel’s got an association with Strictly because she's hosted the live tour, so it will be lovely for her to have a go.”

What Christmas gift would you buy for your fellow judges?

“I’d give them each a copy of my new novel, We’ll Meet Again. And I’d even sign it for them, so they couldn’t flog it! What do I hope they get me? Some socks maybe? I don’t mind. Just as long as it isn’t a novel from Craig!”

What is Christmas like in the Du Beke household? Any festive traditions?

"I love Christmas, so it’ll be really traditional. Our house will be like a Christmas forest! We'll have a big tree on the doorstep, one in the living room, one in the hall, one in the kitchen, and one in the children's playroom. The kids are a great age now, so they've really got the idea of Christmas. It's absolutely magic. We'll have turkey with all the trimmings; I'm the baker, my wife Hannah is the cook. Then we'll play with the kids' toys and watch a film."

Strictly Come Dancing judges

Anton has admitted he would love to return as a judge again next year.  (Image credit: BBC)

Strictly Come Dancing: The Grand Final airs on Saturday, Dec. 18, with the Strictly Come Dancing Christmas Special airing on Christmas Day.

Victoria Wilson
Feature Writer for What’s on TV, TV Times, TV & Satellite Week and WhatToWatch.com

With over 20 years’ experience writing about TV and film, Vicky currently writes features for What’s on TV, TV Times, TV & Satellite Week magazines plus news and watching guides for WhatToWatch.com, a job which involves chatting to a whole host of famous faces. Our Vicky LOVES light entertainment, with Strictly Come Dancing, Britain’s Got Talent and The Voice UK among her fave shows. Basically, if it’s got a shiny floor, she’s all over it! When she’s not watching TV, you might find Vicky in therapy… retail therapy that is!