DCSIMG

Anton DuBeke goes on a charm offensive in Ireland

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“Hello - is that Anton?” I say in my poshest Derry accent.

“Hello Erin, how are you?” comes the reply from the other end of the phone.

“I am over the moon to be on the phone to you,” I say.

And it’s true because I’m not just a journalist, I’m a massive fan.

I’m talking to Anton Du Beke from Strictly Come Dancing and I’ve just taken great joy in adding his number to the list of contacts in my mobile phone.

I resist telling Anton his number’s been burning a hole in my pocket all weekend, and it’s taken strong willpower for me to resist sending him even one sneaky text.

But it’s time to get down to some serious interviewing.

“I’m going to spend the next ten minutes flirting with you,” I tell him. “I’ll probably never get to spend another ten minutes with you so I’m making the most of it.”

“Fill your boots Erin,” he says. “Fill your boots.”

Already he’s put me at ease. But then Anton really is one of the life’s true gentlemen.

With impeccable manners you just know he’s one of those men who’ll insist on opening the car door for his lady friends or helping you on with your coat.

The Strictly Come Dancing star arrives in Ireland next week for just two performances of his Ballroom to Broadway show - one in Belfast next Friday night followed by a matinee in Dublin on Saturday.

Anton’s dance partner Erin Boag is pregnant with her first child so this year Anton’s doing the tour solo, alongside special guest star Summer Strallen.

“Is there a vacancy for a new Erin?, “ is my next question for Anton.

I mean, I can’t sing, I definitely can’t dance - but I do have the right name.

“If you can fit into the frocks - you’re in,” he says.

I put down the Galaxy bar and resolve to do better at Weightwatchers this week, there’s always next year.

Anton wants to know if we have a theatre in Derry when I ask him why he hasn’t planned a visit to the City of Culture on his tour.

It pains me to tell him The Venue has now been dismantled but I try and sell the Millennium Forum as a possiblilty for 2015.

“That’s a shame about the Venue,” he says. “But I’d love to come down to Derry, if we can maybe next year we could come to Derry for the evening, now you’ve invited me?

“We’ll start in Belfast, head down to Derry and then on to Dublin - does that sound like a plan?” says Anton.

It certainly does!

“It’s true what they say, there’s no crowd like an Irish crowd,” says Anton.

“You’re always so generous and you like having a good time. It’s super, you’re a lovely bunch, I can’t deny it.”

Ever the gentleman - Anton’s keen to talk about his co star Summer Strallen.

“When Erin told me she was going to have a baby and that she wouldn’t be able to do the tour this year I had my wish list of what I wanted to do for my style of show, and have a cross over into Broadway.

“And Summer was at the top of my list to be my leading girl. She’s just finished Top Hat and previously starred in Love Never Dies (the long awaited sequel to Phantom of the Opera).’

“I’m looking to forward to hearing questions from the audience when we’re over in Belfast. But the names always catch us out, especially when we have to sign the programmes.”

It’s early in the year but Anton says he hopes to return to Strictly Come Dancing in the Summer, especially after making it all the way to November with partner Fiona Fullerton in the last series.

“Fiona knew all the steps and in the right order,” he said, “I couldn’t ask for more. She’s a lovely girl. It was a good year. We had a lot of fun.”

But he shies away when asked to name who his ideal celebrity partner would be.

“I never really mind,” he says, “For example I would never have chosen Anne Widdecombe as a partner on Strictly but if I hadn’t have danced with her I would have missed out on all that fun we had together.”

And that’s not surprising because it’s certainly his series eight pairing with Ann, that put Anton’s name on

everyone’s lips and helped the show achieve record viewing figures.

In fact rumour has it that even Prince Charles tuned in to watch their performances which once had Ann suspended from wires as the theme from Titanic played.

“I like people to have a nice time, whether they are coming to see a show I am in or whether I’m dancing with them on Strictly Come Dancing.”

Before I know it, my allotted ten minutes with Anton is up and it’s time to say goodbye.

“You’re a lovely girl Erin, I’m very fond of you,” he says as we sign off.

“You’ve made a wee Derry girl very happy,” I tell him, and the click signals the end of our call.

But I still have his mobile number, I might just text him later in the week...

Anton Du Beke - Ballroom To Broadway comes to Belfast Waterfront on Friday 31 January - 7.30pm and the National Concert hall Dublin on Saturday February 1.

For tickets telephone 028 9033 4455 or book them online: www.raymondgubbay.co.uk

 
 
 

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