Anton Du Beke’s Heartbreaking Childhood: Facing Violence from His Alcoholic Father, Including a Stabbing Incident

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Anton Du Beke’s Heartbreaking Childhood: Facing Violence from His Alcoholic Father, Including a Stabbing Incident

Strictly Come Dancing judge Anton Du Beke is joining Giovanni Pernice for Adventures in Spain – a new BBC One travel show. 

As Anton’s mum was from Spain, the TV stars go in search of the countries most wonderful sites as they finish their trip meeting his adored mother in her home town.

Anton, 57, has become one of the best-known faces on the BBC in recent years after cementing his reputation for his fabulous dancing and quick wit on Strictly. 

For his first 17 years on the show, the ballroom dancer was a professional before graduating to the judge’s table in 2021.

But Anton’s life beyond the screen and stage hasn’t always been as easy or as glamorous as many might have thought, with his childhood not always a happy one, and struggling to find love until his late 40s.

Anton was born Anthony Paul Beke to a Spanish mother and Hungarian father, and grew up on a council estate in Sevenoaks, Kent. He discovered his love of dancing at age 14 after seeing his sister perform at a local studio and quickly became obsessed.

While his mother encouraged him, Anton’s father grew hostile towards the hobby, calling Anton “gay”. During an interview with Kate Garraway for her ITV Life Stories series, Anton explained how his dad Antal had refused to accept his ballroom dreams.

He spoke about having “an alcoholic father and a situation where, if you’re in the house then there’s drinking and… fights”. Anton said: “I got stabbed in the leg and in the stomach because of a fight on Boxing Day. It was idiotic. An idiotic situation. I remember walking out of the house to walk up to the hospital, holding my leg, and a police car drove past and I waved him down.”

He added: “I said ‘he’s in there with a knife’ – anyway they carted him off and I ended up in hospital for three or four days”. Anton told Kate that his father’s violence was only towards him, rather than his mother Conchita or sister Veronica because he was “a young man”.

“You’ve got an alcoholic father and a situation where, if you’re in the house and he’s drinking, you end up with the fights and stuff. You’d move room to get away from it and he’d follow you in and then the violence starts”, Anton explained.

Sitting in the audience and watching him give his TV interview, his sister Veronica Richards wipes away tears as he speaks. He said he has never spoken about what happened before, and admits he felt a sense of shame about the incident at the time.

“My only concern was getting back into the studio and dancing – and the embarrassment of it really. I’d say I’d pulled a hamstring. I’m sure my friends and family don’t even know. It’s the first time I’ve mentioned it out loud.

“What’s to be gained from talking about it all? I can’t really believe I’m talking to you about this, I should have glossed over it and said ‘it was all marvellous dear’.”

At 14, Anton began dancing at the Holton School of Dance in Sevenoaks, later leaving school at 16 to focus on dance and choosing to specialise in ballroom a year later. In these early years of his career, he would dance in the evenings and weekends before working at a bed shop called The Bed Post in Petts Wood, Bromley, South London.

Anton’s dance career really picked up steam after he met professional partner Erin Boag in 1997, the pair winning handfuls of competitions over the next decade, turning professional in 2002 before landing his role on Strictly in its first series in 2004.

Adventures In Spain airs  

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