But don’t for one minute assume the most popular – and enduring – professional on Strictly Come Dancing isn’t a man without strong opinions. Take the so-called Strictly Curse. Does he ignore all that? “Personally, yes,” he says, “as I have no interest in any of it.” And yet, it’s not too hard to understand that, if a red-blooded male is wrapped around a good-looking female eight hours a day, six days a week, temptation might strike.
“Not to me. I’m already married to a good-looking female [businesswoman Hannah Summer]. I have two gorgeous children at home. Why would I want to cop off with someone else?” That doesn’t mean, though, that Anton doesn’t find the Strictly Curse rather an irritant.
“I have two attitudes to it. One is that we’re all adults; we make our own choices. The other is that the public and Press tend to concentrate on whatever is perceived to be the latest scandal. I find that annoying.
“Could we talk about the dancing, please? A drunken snog outside a pub isn’t really what Strictly’s meant to be about. You don’t want any of that to be what people remember about a show that I think is the best thing ever.”
That said, lovely stories can come out of the show, says Anton. “Look at Gorka and Gemma who fell in love and now have a beautiful little girl. And what about Pasha and Rachel who’re expecting their first child just before Christmas? “So it’s not all bad.”
He’s been partnered by everyone from politician and Daily Express columnist Ann Widdecombe to reality star Nancy Dell’Olio, from model Jerry Hall to fashion guru Susannah Constantine. And Anton retains an affection for them all.
“Can you remember who came third in Strictly the year before last, or the year before that? Of course not. But I bet you can remember Ann Widdecombe being dragged across the floor in a bright yellow dress or Nancy Dell’Olio climbing out of a coffin in the Halloween edition.”
Anton Du Beke and this year’s partner Emma Barton
Anton’s point is these people – comedy partners to all intents and purposes – helped create memorable TV moments. That said, you did not have to be a mind reader to know what Anton was thinking when host Tess Daly announced his partner this year would be Emma Barton, 42, most famous for playing Honey Mitchell in BBC soap EastEnders.
Even now, he can’t keep the silly smile off his face. “She’s got legs that go on for ever. She was trained in musical theatre. And she can really act which means she’ll know how to tell a story.”
Little wonder that Anton turned to camera and said out loud that he now knew what he’d be doing all the way up to Christmas (rather than getting voted off early).
“I didn’t want to seem disrespectful to anyone I’d danced with before. But I am so excited, I can’t tell you.”
The other newcomer on the hit show is judge Motsi Mabuse, 38, pro-dancer Oti’s big sister, and the replacement for Darcey Bussell.
“They should never have got rid of Arlene Phillips,” says Anton, pointedly. “I’m such an admirer of hers. But I suppose they couldn’t ask her back. Anyway, Motsi is a terrific addition. She has the great advantage of having been a judge on the German version of Strictly.
“Remember when Darcey first started and kept saying ‘Yah’ at the end of every sentence? She quite quickly became brilliant, though.
“And Shirley [Ballas] didn’t seem to know at the beginning whether to be critical or technical or what but she, too, rapidly found her feet.
“Not Motsi. She hit the ground running.And she knows what she’s talking about. I don’t want an ex-contestant on the panel; all they can offer is observations along the lines that they know how the celebrity feels because they were in the same position.
“Unless you’ve been a professional dancer, there’s no place for you on a judging panel.”
He doesn’t name her but Strictly winner-turned-judge Alesha Dixon fits that description.
There has been speculation that this might be Craig Revel Horwood’s last year on the panel.
“Yes, he made an unfortunate comment on the launch show about the celebrities doing well if they got up close and personal with their pro-partners. But I honestly don’t think the show would improve from his departure.
“He has so much experience. Strictly works better with Craig.”
Anton with wife Hannah Summers
That said, Anton would be a popular choice to replace him if it ever came to it.
“I’d rather dance on the show,” he says, “than judge for the time being. But I do know that, if they ever offered me the chance of being a judge and I turned it down, they wouldn’t offer again.”
And should that call never come, canny Anton has a second string to his bow. His first romantic novel, One Enchanted Evening, was the fourth best-selling debut title of 2018. And, as he can’t resist boasting: “It only came out in October.” He didn’t exactly have the complete story sitting and waiting for the follow-up, Moonlight Over Mayfair but, when he was writing the first novel, his publisher suggested that certain ideas could be held over for a second.
It carries on seamlessly from where the first left off. During his research, Anton stumbled across a real-life incident which fired his imagination.
The star is reluctant to go into too much detail but there was a pre-war assassination plot on King Edward VIII’s life. “That planted the seed of an idea. I was off and running.”
However Anton’s considerable energies are focused on Strictly, which he joined for the very first series in 2004. He still has a personal trainer, takes regular in theatre’ dancing classes and recently began both tap dancing and gymnastic classes. Anton is six feet tall and weighs 12 stone.
“My waistband hasn’t changed in over 35 years; it’s been 28 inches since I became an adult.”
He inherited a good body, he says, from his Spanish mother, Conchita. “I’ve never had any back problems or creaky knees. I’ve always competed, always stayed in good shape.
“It’s common sense. My attitude is, if it’s too heavy, put it down.”
Does that include Ann Widdecombe? He roars with laughter. “I think the trick was not to hold on to her for too long.”
He’s 53 now and doesn’t smoke, doesn’t drink.
“I tried a glass of wine once but musical didn’t like the taste. I’ve never touched it since. And I have a healthy diet. It’s been second nature all my adult life.”
Anton’s currently competing in his 17th Strictly. “I love being the last man standing.”
And this year, with Emma at his side, he’s hoping to be standing for longer than ever before.
Moonlight Over Mayfair by Anton Du Beke (Zaffre, £18.99) is published on October 17. For free UK delivery, call Express Bookshop on 01872 562310, or send a cheque/PO payable to Express Bookshop Anton Du Beke Offer, PO Box 200, Falmouth TR11 4WJ or visit expressbookshop.co.uk