ANTON Du Beke promises to sweep audiences off their feet as he discusses his latest novel, The Paris Affair, at Ilkley Literature Festival.

It can’t be a coincidence that Anton’s hero - Raymond de Guise - is a debonair dancer?

“Well, I couldn’t possibly say,” Anton deadpans down the line. “He is a debonair, sophisticated, handsome, dramatically charismatic, dashing dancer. I couldn’t begin to tell you who he is based on!”

Readers will have the chance to be whisked away by the Strictly dancer turned judge when he takes to the stage to discuss The Paris Affair on Sunday.

Since 2018, Anton has been the author of the series of bestselling escapist novels set in the glamorous milieu of early 20th century entertainment, rotating around The Buckingham Hotel.

“My main protagonist Raymond is a demonstration dancer at the hotel and the book is all about the shenanigans that go on in the hotel really. Dancing is just a part of it because people danced in the 1930s and 40,” says Anton.

The Paris Affair is set in the nightlife of 1926 Paris and in London 1941, against the backdrop of war, with charismatic strangers and dark secrets.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: The Paris Affair is Anton's latest novel The Paris Affair is Anton's latest novel (Image: Ilkley Literature Festival)

Since Anton’s debut One Enchanted Evening, readers and critics have been swept away, praising his storytelling gifts. Moonlight over Mayfair was shortlisted for a Historical Romantic Award; critics coined it ‘Downton with dance.’

“I never thought I was writing a romantic novel until I got nominated for a Romantic Novel of the Year award,” Anton says. “That was the moment I realised I was doing romance. I thought I was doing espionage and spies, but there you are!”

His books are the opposite of the current obsession with the crime genre. “Murder on the Dancefloor is the title of Shirley Ballas’s new crime novel, so it’s already been done I’m afraid. I didn’t really want to do that.”

As someone constantly on the go, to appear on stage, telly, or on book tours, he consumes stories as he drives, listening to audiobooks.

“I like the Lee Child series of Jack Reacher books, and Jack Higgins. I’m also listening to the autobiography of Don Black, the lyricist. I’m quite eclectic. I listen more than I read, so if there’s a good narrator, I’ll go along. Derek Jacobi narrated one I listened to recently. I love his voice. I was taken along by him.”

As a child, Anton wasn’t a big reader, but he listened. “I liked to be told stories and watch movies and get swept away with a story. I did like that sense of escapism,” he said. “We had a teacher at primary school, I can’t remember her name, but she’d sit and tell a story - she wouldn’t read it, she made it up. She was astonishing. I was transfixed, hanging off her every word. I’m 57-years-old and I still remember it. That shows you the impact. I want my children to be swept away with stories. My wife studied English at university so she’s terribly well-read, so we’re very keen on the children reading. And I just love telling stories. That’s what I do through choreography really.”

Anton approaches his novels in the same way: “I’m not a person who sits in a shed at the end of a garden and types out 30,000 words a day. I’m not that guy. I wonder around talking, and I narrate my novels before they’re written down. Everyone does it in their own way. Ian Fleming used to take himself off to his place in Jamaica. I read that Jeffrey Archer had to diarise his writing time, he does two hours then stops for lunch. But you are what you are, and do what you do. The most important thing is you do it in a way that works best for you. You can’t force it,” he says.

“If anybody asks me about it, I always say, find the way that works for you. Understand how other people do it sure, but know how you best express yourself, then you can get something out.”

With a news agenda that has left the country jaded, the escapism and optimism Anton exudes no doubt contribute to his popularity, with added sequins and pazazz. “I think there is a need for escapism,” he agrees.

His twins love watching their dad on Strictly. “They were brushing their teeth this morning singing the Strictly Come Dancing tune, hilariously. It’s so funny. And it is lovely. It is a wonderful thing. I’m very lucky.”

In terms of his energy, in his 50s, dancing, live TV, storytelling - what is his secret? “I love it. Having the children is a big thing. They’re the most inspiring things in the world. I do everything I do because of the children really. They keep me young. All the people I perform with – the girls and boys on Strictly - keep me young. I throw myself into great energy, enthusiasm, and optimism. Those things go a long way.”

It’s his first time at Ilkley Literature Festival, but he’s a frequent visitor to our county. “I go to Yurkshire quite a lot,” he says, putting on the accent. “And I’m always doing shows in Yurkshire, I’m either in Leeds of Sheffield or Brat-ford or Yo-urk! Some of my favourite people in the world live up in Yurkshire. It is a wonderful, wonderful part of the world and I’m delighted to go.”

What would he say to anyone needing convincing on coming to see him at Ilkley? “Come! We’ll have a lovely time! I always open the floor up for questions. Ask me what you like! It’s always fun.”

* Anton Du Beke is at King’s Hall, Ilkley, on Sunday, October 15 at 7.30pm. Visit