Anton Du Beke (Photo: BBC/Ray Burmiston)
Anton Du Beke has admitted he does still feel “dance envy” when he watches the Strictly Come Dancing professionals performing.
Before becoming a permanent judge, Anton was Strictly’s longest-serving (and, on occasion, longest-suffering) pro, competing in every series between 2004 and 2020.
Last year, he was called on to fill in on the panel in Bruno Tonioli’s absence, and has since been made a fully-fledged member of Strictly’s judging team.
Ahead of this year’s launch show on Friday, Anton revealed that while he’s been “loving” his time on the Strictly panel, he does sometimes miss his days as a professional.
“I’m loving judging on Strictly Come Dancing, it’s incredible,” he said, before admitting: “I do watch some of the pros do the numbers and get a bit of dance envy, thinking, ‘I wish I could have been a part of that’. But judging is so much easier on the knees.”
The professional dancers of Strictly Come Dancing 2022 (Photo: BBC/Guy Levy)
Anton continued: “I’m delighted, elated, excited, proud, thrilled, to be coming back as a judge this year. It’s the most wonderful thing to be a part of. I feel honoured to have been on the show since the beginning and to now be on the judging panel.”
As Strictly gears up for its landmark 20th series, he also reflected on his first day on set, recalling: “I remember the first day I worked on the show back in 2004, I was dancing with Lesley Garrett and nobody really knew what to expect.
“It was a brand-new show and the most exciting thing for me was to be working with Bruce Forsyth, he was my absolute hero. To be able to dance on television on a Saturday night was something I never thought we’d be able to do. It was a dream really and the dream continues. I just absolutely love it now as much as I did 20 series ago.”
And while his competing days might be behind him, there is one celeb Anton is gutted he never got to perform with.
“The person I’ve always really wanted to dance with and never have is Darcey Bussell,” he revealed. “I thought we could have a wonderful collaboration, a fusion of styles.
“That’s something I’ve always secretly dreamed of being able to do, maybe sometime in the future.”
Anton with fellow Strictly judges Shirley Ballas, Motsi Mabuse and Craig Revel Horwood (Photo: BBC/Ray Burmiston)
This weekend will see Anton return to the panel alongside Motsi Mabuse, Shirley Ballas and Craig Revel Horwood to judge the latest crop of Strictly stars.
Strictly Come Dancing returns to BBC One on Friday at 7pm.
This article originally appeared on HuffPost UK and has been updated.