When the battle of oneupmanship in the audience is whether there’s anyone older than 92 (there was – the lady behind managed to nudge into the lead by an extra year), it’s safe to say that Strictly star Anton du Beke’s fanbase tends to be a slightly older crowd.
Not for them all that unnecessary hip jiggling and gyrating that annoys veteran Strictly judge Len Goodman so much – though there was a little courtesy of a hula-hoop. Instead they were treated to a gentler evening of song and dance straight from the golden age of Hollywood. It wasn’t a sell-out but there’s clearly a market for good old-fashioned light entertainment.
With the 25-piece Manchester Concert Orchestra on stage, it was looking a little packed by the time the Strictly stalwart and his former dance partner Erin Boag appeared with a team of professional dancers. One or two looked perilously close to re-enacting Madonna’s BRITs moment as scarves and frocks swished past the conductor.
Their one-date appearance at Sheffield City Hall was the mid-way point of their two-month 34-date nationwide That’s Entertainment tour that is more variety show than a scaled down Strictly. Joining them was Lance Ellington, one of the regular Saturday night singers.
There’s a bit of song and dance and plenty of chatting with the crowd, especially with 92-year-old superfans in the front row.
Anton has been in all 12 series while New Zealand-born Erin quit after 10 at the end of the 2012 run to concentrate on starting a family. She drew an ‘ahhh’ from the City Hall crowd when she revealed that her mum had flown over especially for ‘nanny’ duties to look after 10-month-old baby Ewan.
Fans got the chance to post a question during the interval into a box left in reception. My seven-year-old Leo wanted to ask something about the baby but in the end we put a cheeky one to Anton.
Just for the record – if he ever gets stranded on a desert island, rather than choosing between Ann Widdecombe, Nancy Dell’Olio and Fiona Fullerton, he’d keep all three but at opposite ends of the island.