Anton Du Beke talks babies, Brendan, Strictly, Ann Widdicombe and that fall with Katherine MacAlister

I always expect to win Strictly,” Anton Du Beke tells me solemnly, “so every year I’m a little bit disappointed.”

He’s joking of course, a role he dons easily in the Strictly Come Dancing line-up, content to play the clown.

But no sooner had he finished trotting Ruth Langsford around the dance floor, than he launched his debut solo album From The Top, and is now commencing his extensive ballroom dancing tour with long term partner Erin Boag.

And then, when he gets home, he is faced with his two ebullient twins who are now nine months old. So is sleep a distant memory?

“I wish I had two lots of 24 hours every day, one for work and one for home, because I have two incredible babies and a really incredible wife and mum who loves every second of it. So I don’t mind because it’s been wonderful. I can sleep another time. It’s really okay.”

Do his two worlds ever clash? “Sometimes, if they wake in the night and we can’t get them back to sleep, and then I have to go to work.

“But otherwise we are having a really good time. It’s a joy because the babies (a boy and a girl) are calm and eat and sleep well. So we are lucky, especially as my wife Hannah struggled to get pregnant, so we went through IVF, fell pregnant first time around, and then got the twins.

“So yes I sing to them and play them my music. At the start they used to wail but now they smile. I took terrible affront,“ he laughs.

And what about when he’s on tour?

“Once I make a decision to do something I just crack on with it and find a way to make it work.

“And while we did consider taking the twins on tour with us, they are just too young at the moment and it would break up their routine, but I do plan to one day.

“So usually I try to get home for feeding and bathing and top and tail my day accordingly. On tour it’s almost easier because I will be home more. I’m not

rehearsing in a studio all day every day so I can spend most of the day with them unless we are up North or in Scotland.”

Still, he must be exhausted? “Yes, it is a little bit crazy at the moment, but I’d rather that than the other. It just seemed the right time to launch the album and all fell into place quite quickly and was a wonderful experience.

“But being on Strictly is the ultimate dream. It’s the best job in the world.”

As the longest surviving professional, now that Brendan Cole has been given the push this week, having been there from the word go, does Anton worry about his longevity? “Ultimately it’s the BBC who decides who to bring back. It’s the same with the judges and presenters. When they do, then you can decide if that’s what you want.”

And does he? “I just want to have a nice time and that’s what I try to do, and make it as fun for my partner as possible. Because while I’ve had 15 years on Strictly, they only get one go.

“But other than that I do not feel like I have got anything to prove. I know I’m a marvellous dancer,” more guffawing. “I take that for granted, but as a professional, I do know what I’m doing. So my role is to get the best out of my partner and have the best time possible along the way.

And what of winning? “Every year is a new experience so I try to put together some fun and interesting choreography together to help them be the best they can be. There’s no point in staging something too difficult or unbecoming. I’m not interested in making them feel hugely uncomfortable with ambitious choreography. I can do that on my tour. You just have to be professional about it.”

As for Ruth clambering on top of Anton after falling over at the end of a dance, Anton says: “That was a moment of genius. And that’s what makes Strictly such a great show. It’s like Anne Widdecombe flying onto the stage.

“We have lots of great dancers and winners, but what people really remember are the characters. I mean who can forget Ed Balls’ Gangnam style?

“But when I saw the photos of me and Ruth lying there with my legs sticking out the bottom and my arms in the air it just made me laugh. It will certainly be on my Christmas card this year.”

Their decade of dance celebration, From Broadway To Hollywood is a far cry from Strictly, with its Golden Age of Hollywood theme. But did you know Anton will sing throughout? “Erin and I have always done this sort of show. Because while dancing is lovely, I have always sung throughout the shows, because we have over two hours to fill which is difficult with ballroom alone.

“So as the years have gone by, our act has slowly grown and evolved into more of a variety show. It’s quite old school but people like it that way.

So what can we expect? “This will be our first time in Oxford which is really exciting, so I’m really looking forward to it.”

“We throw in a bit of Rat Pack, Frank Sinatra and Fred Astaire, all the music I love. There are a few numbers where I can sing and dance at the same time such as It Only Happens When I Dance With You, but you do get a bit out of breath,” he laughs. “So our show is more musical theatre, than anything else.”

Could this dual approach ever work on Strictly? “If I have the right partner I think it could. I had Lesley Garrett at the very beginning, but the format was very different back then. So I’ll wait until I get another singer or West End star and would love to try it out.

“Because the judges hate everything anyway,” another shout of laughter. “But Strictly has such momentum. It is also such fun and I love the way it has evolved because it keeps the energy going.

* Anton And Erin Celebrate a Decade of Dance at the New Theatre on Sunday at 3pm