Anton Du Beke on the Strictly judging panel

Anton Du Beke was once at centre of Strictly Come Dancing race row

The star apologised after using an offensive word

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Anton Du Beke is wowing viewers as a Strictly judge – but 12 years ago his career was hanging in the balance over a race row.

The dancer was one of the pros on the BBC ballroom contest when he came under fire for using a racist term to describe his celeb partner Laila Rouass.

At the time, it was reported that Anton had used the slur during rehearsals after mixed race star Laila got a spray tan.

Read more: Strictly: Anton Du Beke to move to It Takes Two when Bruno Tonioli returns?

But the dancer denied that he was racist and said the offensive word was used “in jest”.

Anton apologised for using offensive term

“I must say immediately and categorically that I am not a racist and that I do not use racist language,” he said.

Laila Rouass leaving ITV studios
Laila Rouass danced with Anton (Credit: Splash News)

“During the course of rehearsals Laila and I have exchanged a great deal of banter entirely in jest, and two weeks ago there was an occasion when this term was used between the two of us.”

Anton said there was “no racist intent whatsoever”.

But he accepted that it was a term “which causes offence” and said he regretted using it.

“I apologise unreservedly for any offence my actions might have caused,” he added.

He apologised again on Strictly spin-off It Takes Two, saying he was “mortified” about the whole thing.

Laila – who has an Indian mum and a Moroccan dad – accepted Anton’s apology.

She said “it was a situation which happened that we have moved on from”.

“I’m really enjoying the show and dancing with Anton and hope we can go as far as possible in the competition,” she added.

Anton Du Beke on Strictly
Anton Du Beke is a Strictly judge (Credit: BBC iPlayer)

Critics wanted Anton Du Beke axed from Strictly

The incident sparked complaints and an anti-racism group called for the star to be axed from Strictly.

Read more: Strictly: It Takes Two fans stunned by Janette Manrara’s ‘awkward’ question to Rose Ayling-Ellis

But the show noted that Anton understood that what he’d said was wrong and had unconditionally apologised.

A statement said: “The BBC does not condone offensive language in the workplace.

“Anton Du Beke has apologised unreservedly to Laila Rouass who has accepted his apology.”

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