Strictly: Anton Du Beke says he'll be an 'understanding' judge
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Dance pro Anton, who joined the show during its first series in 2004, impressed bosses with his two-week stint in the chair for the 2020 series. Now he will stand in for US-based Bruno for the whole of the 2021 series in one of TV’s most high-profile seat-warming exercises. Anton will join Craig Revel Horwood, Motsi Mabuse, and Shirley Ballas on the judging panel.
Italian Bruno, 65, will remain in Los Angeles, where he lives and works on Dancing With The Stars.
One insider said: “The show works best with four judges and Anton did a great job last year – but he’s officially only keeping the seat warm.
“The expectation is that Bruno will be back in 2022 when travel restrictions have lifted and he can jet back and forth across the Atlantic like he did before. But who knows? Anton will want to impress in the hope this could be permanent. If not, he can always go back to the dancefloor.”
Anton, 54, gushed: “My loves, I cannot tell you how thrilled I am to be stepping into Bruno’s brogues. It’s a dream come true…and I promise to be kinder to all the couples than any of them have ever been to me.”
Bruno laughed: “There is one person that could take my place – it’s just a shame they weren’t available…haha! Darlings, I’m kidding! Seriously, I have to tell you, Anton IS Mr Strictly and if anybody is filling in for me, it has to be him.”
Fellow judge Craig yesterday said he was “over the moon” – but hinted it could spell the end of Anton’s dancing days.
Speaking on This Morning he said: “There is a point in your life where you have to give up the dance shoes.”
Bosses are hopeful that this series can return to normal length after last year’s run was shortened because of Covid-19.