Anton Du Beke opens up about Esther Rantzen missing first week of Strictly training

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Speaking on Esther’s joint podcast, That’s After Life, with her co-host Adrian Mills, the professional dancer revealed how the Dame cancelled her first week of Strictly Come Dancing rehearsals in favour of attending lunches and meetings. Anton revealed that the duo hadn’t done a “scrap of training” before the group’s official photoshoot and wasn’t surprised when they came “third from bottom .”

I get her majesty Dame Esther Rantzen and in she comes telling me she’s got lunches

Anton Du Beke

The TV presenter, 54, was partnered with Dame Esther Rantzen, 80, for the second series of Strictly Come Dancing in 2004.

Taking to her podcast, Anton made the surprising claim about his former dance partner.

Reminiscing about the first time he met his dance partner, Anton relayed how delighted he was to be partnered with the journalist.

He said: “I’m going to tell you a little story about Esther Rantzen, the busiest woman in the world.

“We got together, I came into your living room and there you were sort of lounging on a chaise lounge.”

He continued: “I walked in and the camera crew were all there and I went ‘Ah, excellent! Right, Brilliant!”

However, Anton’s delight at the partnership didn’t last long as Esther tried to reschedule their rehearsals.

The ballroom pro explained to the podcast hosts: “You said, ‘Right, we’re supposed to start rehearsing the following day.’

“I went, ‘See you at ten o’clock and we’ll be there until about six.’

But the eight hour practice session didn’t sit well with the former That’s Life! presenter and she quickly tried to rearrange the timings.

Anton continued: “She went, ‘Oh no, I can’t do that, I’ve got a lunch. I can do nine until nine forty-five, then I can probably do three to four but I’m not really sure.'”

Laughing at the memory, the professional dancer revealed that the rest of the first week’s rehearsals followed in the same vain.


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Anton went on to reminisce about the pairs second meeting, revealing that they were unprepared to take part in the dance competition.

He said: “The first time we ever met was when I burst into your drawing room

“The second time we ever met was at the photoshoot a week later and we hadn’t done a scrap of training.”

Adrian took the opportunity to ask the dancer about his thoughts on the situation.

He asked: “Was this the moment, Anton, you realised you weren’t going to win Strictly Come Dancing?

“The first year of course I came third from top, the second year with Esther I came third from bottom,” Anton replied jokingly.

The ballroom dancer went on to explain that his second experience doing the show was completely different to the first time he was partnered with Lesley Garratt.

He said: “[In the second series] I get her majesty Dame Esther Rantzen and in she comes telling me she’s got lunches and can’t make the first week.”

However he was quick to say that after the shaky first week Esther turned up for rehearsals: “To give her her due she never missed a minute from that point on.”

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