Anton du Beke, Cheltenham Literature Festival, Sunday, October 14.
THE 2012 Cheltenham Literature Festival drew to a spectacular close with a rousing performance by Strictly Come Dancing favourite Anton du Beke.
Taking to the stage to thunderous applause, Anton was clearly in his element and had the audience in the palm of his hand from the start.
From his animated description of his hero Fred Astaire's first screen test and its similarities to his own, to his searingly honest, and often hilarious insights into Strictly behind the scenes, Anton is a born storyteller. Not one who can get to the point quickly, perhaps, but the audience loved him nonetheless.
Strictly fans delighted in tales of Anton's past dance partners, including Nancy Dell'Olio and Ann Widdecombe.
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The story of how fellow professional Vincent Simone was convinced he'd be paired with the MP, much to Anton's amusement until the big reveal left him eating his words, brought roars of laughter, as did the story of how he once mistook dance partner Patsy Palmer for fellow Eastenders star Daniella Westbrook and spent the whole of their first meeting trying to look up her nose. (Westbrook famously had reconstructive surgery following her cocaine addiction. Palmer, of course, has had no such surgery - a bad case of mistaken identity).
"This is the tenth series of Strictly and while the last two have been pretty monumental, there were a few in the middle which were pretty dodgy," regaled Anton.
"Even we didn't know who some of them were."
Anton also revealed that, as comfortable as he is dancing with a partner, he couldn't dance freestyle as he didn't know what to do with his arms or feet.
But the loudest laughter was reserved for his impression of fellow Strictly dancer Artem "I do press-up" Chigvintsev.
Some believe Anton is the natural successor for Brucie himself. Judging by this appearance, I think they might be right.
Anton's book, B is for Ballroom, is out now.