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Inside Anton Du Beke’s tragic childhood – including being stabbed by his alcoholic father

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

Since Anton’s mother came from Spain, the TV stars look for the most beautiful places in the country as they end their trip and meet his beloved mother in her hometown.

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

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

But Anton’s life off screen and on stage hasn’t always been as easy or glamorous as many might have thought. His childhood was not always a happy one and he struggled to find love until his late forties.

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 for dancing at the age of 14 after seeing his sister perform at a local studio and quickly became obsessed.

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

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

He added: “I said ‘he’s sitting there with a knife’ – anyway they took him away and I ended up in hospital for three or four days.” Anton told Kate that his father’s violence was only directed at him, and not at his mother Conchita or sister Veronica, because he was “a young man.”

“You have an alcoholic father and a situation where if you’re in the house and he’s drinking, you get into fights and stuff. You’d leave the room to get away and he’d follow you in and then the violence starts,” explained Anton out.

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 really the embarrassment of it. I’d say I pulled a hamstring. I’m sure my friends and family don’t even know. It’s the first time I’ve said it out loud.

“What’s to be gained by me 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 great darling’.”

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

Anton’s dance career really took off after he met professional partner Erin Boag in 1997. The pair won a handful of competitions over the next decade and turned professional in 2002 before landing his role on Strictly in the first series in 2004.

Adventures in Spain broadcast