Dance: Cha Cha to The Shoop Shoop Song (It’s in His Kiss) by Cher
The judges’ verdict: Before Shirley wanted to comment on Debbie’s dancing, she wanted to point out how “gorgeous” she looked and how “lucky” she was to have Giovanni as the delivery man. “I’m quite jealous!” the new Head Judge exclaimed. For Bruno, he said that she “always delivers” and that she was “very very very bendy” during her Cha Cha. He also praised the fact that there was “no faffing about” with her spare hand during the routine. Although Craig thought that Debbie was a little bit too stiff and straight during the routine, comparing her to a Barbie doll. He wanted more “cheek” and to see more of Debbie’s “wild side”.
The judges’ verdict: Debbie got her lowest score yet from the judges this week, although her light footwork was praised by Shirley – despite her also saying that she needed her frame to be more still. Bruno loved the “classic Hollywood style” of the dance, and said that Debbie even managed to emulate Ginger Rogers through her performance. Craig, however, got his rulebook out. “You’re only allowed to have 10 seconds in the middle of the routine out of hold and that seemed a lot longer…rules are rules.” Quite rightly, he was called a “party pooper” by Tess Daly…
The judges’ verdict: Shirley Ballas described Debbie’s performance as “absolutely beautiful”, before directing lots of praise at her professional partner Giovanni Pernice. “You have such respect for this lady and it shows when you dance.” Bruno Tonioli praised the pair’s graceful fluidity, while Craig neatly summed it up with an iconic “ah-ma-zing”. It doesn’t get better than that.
The judges’ verdict: Debbie got a standing ovation from both Darcey Bussell and Shirley Ballas, and ended up finishing second from the top of the leaderboard, taking just one point less than Aston Merrygold. Bruno praised Debbie’s detail, while Craig added that she was “dancing like a 20-year-old”. Darcey commented that Debbie was “on fire”, and that she was so flexible and would “go a long way” in the competition”.
Radio Times spoke exclusively to Debbie McGee:
Why are you doing Strictly?
“When my late husband Paul [Daniels, the magician] did it, I was so jealous! And I really don’t think it could have come at a better time in my life. I’m getting through my grief, and this will hopefully give me my sparkle back.”
Any dance experience?
“I trained as a ballet dancer and I was a professional dancer for four years, but a long time ago. We’ll see how much I can get back.”
Hear more from Debbie and Giovanni in our exclusive interview below:
What is Debbie McGee famous for?
Surrey-born McGee started out her career in showbiz as a ballet dancer – meaning there’ll be high hopes for her on Strictly.
At 16, McGee won a place at the Royal Ballet School, and after graduating she joined the Iranian National Ballet in Tehran. McGee later became part of the Corps de Ballet and a soloist, but her ballet career came to a sudden halt when she had to flee the Iranian Revolution, Argo-style, in 1979.
On returning to the UK, McGee landed a job performing on stage with magician Paul Daniels – who has been called “The Godfather of Modern Magic”. The pair later appeared on his BBC series The Paul Daniels Magic Show. Together, they were thrust into international fame and she became known as “the lovely Debbie McGee”, as Daniels affectionally referred to her on stage.
Daniels, who also appeared on Strictly in 2010, passed away last year.
The famous couple were the subject of a BBC2 Louis Theroux documentary in 2000, called When Louis Met… Paul and Debbie.
McGee has done her fair share of reality television, having appeared on Celebrity Wife Swap, Ant and Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway and the celebrity version of Come Dine With Me, to name a few.