Strictly judge Anton Du Beke has said he feels like the "luckiest guy in the world" starring in Strictly Come Dancing while also rehearsing for his pantomime debut this Christmas.
The 55-year-old, who will play Buttons in a production of Cinderella in London, joined the judging panel for the current series of Strictly, stepping in for Bruno Tonioli, who was unable to take part due to travel uncertainty during the pandemic.
Du Beke said: "I'm loving every second of it because I’m doing all my best things, I’m on stage and I’m doing Strictly Come Dancing, that’s like my favourite things in the world.
"I feel like the luckiest guy in the world and my children are going to come watch me in panto, good heavens above it’s the best thing in the world, happy Christmas to me."
Strictly judge Craig Revel Horwood, who has starred in a string of pantomimes over the years, has been offering him tips before the performance, saying that "big is better, big is best, big is brilliant" and, most importantly, to learn your lines.
The ballroom star added: "He is a bit of a pantomime villain on Strictly anyway so I’ll take that on, but my role as Buttons is a bit different to that so I shall be me."
Du Beke explained that he has not had time to pursue pantomime before now because of his Strictly commitments, having been a fixture on the BBC One series since it began in 2004.
But the TV star did admit that moving from the dancefloor to the acting world was taking some adjustment, adding: "I’m normally making my connection through movements and steps, not many words.
"(Here) there are lots of words and not many steps so it’s a whole new skill for me, which I’m really excited about because panto is great fun, and it’s a great production, (with) wonderful co-stars."
As Strictly’s longest-serving professional dancer, he confessed he did miss performing and putting together the choreography of the dance competition this year, but joked that he did not miss being voted out.
He explained: "I’ll tell you why I’m enjoying it (judging), because I’m loving being able to be part of the overall journey of the show. Watching them begin and go through, and having been part of that, it’s fascinating to see them all.
"Because when you’re doing your own number with your partner, you’re wrapped up in your own thing, rightly so, focused only on you. But when you’re judging and watching it from the outside, looking in, I can get an overview of all the couples and I’m really enjoying it."