Emma Barton opens up about getting Anton Du Beke past Blackpool on Strictly

By Lucy Mapstone, PA Deputy Entertainment Editor

Emma Barton has said it would be “lovely” to help her Strictly Come Dancing partner Anton Du Beke get as far as possible in the competition.

The EastEnders actress said she has come as far in the series as she had previously wanted – the milestone Blackpool special – but that she would like to help Du Beke progress further.

The veteran ballroom dancer has been on the show since it began in 2004 but has never won the Glitterball Trophy, although he has been in the final once before.

Asked if she could be the one to help Du Beke win Strictly, Barton told the PA news agency: “I feel very much like everything is teamwork, and yes, of course I want to do well for him, he’s the pro, I want to make him proud.

“I feel as if I’ve done that by getting to Blackpool, so whatever happens after that, whether it’s going further or going home at the weekend, I feel like I’ve set out what I wanted to achieve, which was Blackpool.”

Emma Barton arrives at Blackpool Tower Ballroom ahead of the Blackpool Strictly Come Dancing show this weekend (Dave Nelson/PA)

Barton added: “But if I can get him further, oh my gosh, that would be lovely.

“He has made the final before so that does take the pressure off a little bit.”

Du Beke was in the Strictly final in 2015 with presenter Katie Derham.

Ahead of taking to the dancefloor at the prestigious Blackpool Tower Ballroom on Saturday, Barton – who is in the top seven of the series – said that she did not expect to make it this far in the competition.

“Especially after rumba week, I thought, that’s me going home, so to actually be here is overwhelming,” she said.

“Just entering this ballroom literally took my breath away. It’s stunning and I feel very, very fortunate. I’m just going to take it all in, absorb every single second of today and tomorrow.”

Barton, who plays Honey Mitchell in EastEnders, said that she has yearned to be an entertainer from a young age, and is living out her childhood dream.

Emma Barton and Anton Du Beke (Guy Levy/PA)

She said: “This is all I wanted to do, from about four years of age, is to be a performer. It wasn’t anything about fame or anything like that, I grew up watching films, musicals, going to the theatre and seeing pantomimes, and I wanted to do that.

“I wanted to be up on that stage entertaining and I’m doing it, and I’m doing it in two big jobs – in EastEnders and now Strictly.”

She said she sometimes gets “a bit weary and a bit tired” juggling both acting and training for Strictly, adding: “You don’t know what you’re doing… am I learning lines? Am I learning steps?

“But it’s such a short period of my life that this is all happening, I’ve just got to go for it because you regret the things you haven’t done, not the things you have done.”

Barton and Du Beke will perform an American Smooth to Ella FitzGerald’s version of Irving Berlin’s Let’s Face The Music And Dance in the Strictly Blackpool episode.

Strictly Come Dancing continues on BBC One at 7.05pm on Saturday.