The judges’ verdict: Shirley kicked off the feedback after Debbie’s Jive and said that she was a bit nervous and concerned about this routine because of her straight leg from the Rumba. “But I watched it, Debbie, you were bending that standing leg girl!” she enthused. “You were really giving it,” Shirley added, saying that she thought Debbie did a “grand” job.
Bruno said that Debbie “always delivers” and that he thought her timing was “incredible” and that she was crispier than a Kettle Crisp, adding that it was a “sparkling Jive”. Craig reckoned it lacked a little retraction and that he thought it was a bit “spiky and stiff” and that her facial expressions reminded him of Judge Rinder! Some might say that was a compliment…possibly…
Darcey was shocked at Debbie’s energy and wanted to know what Debbie was taking because she wanted some of it, too!
Bruno thought that Debbie’s Foxtrot was “strictly gorgeous” and said that if she didn’t make it to the final the following week, he would judge while wearing Darcey’s tutu, no knickers and a tiara. Darcey and Shirley erupted into laughter and had no idea where to look!
Craig said he could “only hope and pray that that doesn’t happen, darling” – but also that she was a little bit too long out of hold and that Craig had to detect a point off them for that. Aside from that, he said he thought they used the floor well, their body contact throughout was good and that he loved it.
Darcey described the pair as “stunningly effortless” and Shirley thought she was “heaven sent” and that Debbie was the most beautiful, elegant lady. “Thank you for closing our show like that…It was amazing,” said Shirley.
The judges’ verdict: Debbie got a standing ovation from Shirley after her routine and Darcey seemed almost lost for words as she said that the pair’s performance was “stunning” and praised the fluidity. “It was so exquisite…it was absolutely seamless.” Shirley thought that it was “intimate, polished” and that she felt every moment of the performance with Debbie. Bruno thought it was a “smash hit” and that the interpretation and the technical skills were “flawless”. “You took everyone with you in the story,” said Bruno. “The story arc was told so beautifully, so flawlessly, it was mesmerising.” Lastly Craig summed it up with a big purr! We think he liked it…
The judges’ verdict: Debbie was dubbed “the Queen of Buenos Aires” by Bruno following her Argentine Tango, so it doesn’t get much better than that! “He said her “legs were like a paintbrush in the hand of a great artist, drawing the most beautiful pictures” and said it was “splendid”. There was even better to come from Craig who said that she “truly amazed” him and that he wished he could dance like her! “Wow, wow, wow” he added.
Darcey loved Debbie’s articulation and the line in her legs. “Your balance – the amount of technical detail is extraordinary” and loved the end of the routine. Shirley found the whole thing “really quite emotional…I’m a 57-year-old woman, I pride myself on my balance but I’ve never seen balance like that. You were outstanding.”
The judges’ verdict: Although Craig criticised the “spiky, stiff” samba, he added: “I loved the splits and timing was exceptional”. It was a mixed verdict from Darcey too: “I loved the shadow rolls and travel but energy flagged”. However, Shirley commended McGee’s “outstanding shadow rolls” and Bruno said “thank you for bringing girl power to the Tower, sizzling and a great treat!”
Dance: Salsa to I Can’t Take My Eyes Off Of You by Boys Town Gang
The judges’ verdict: Shirley said that Debbie’s routine was “on its way” to being a championship Salsa, but there were some mistakes in the routine. “I commend you, how you just get it and go for it,” she said. “Debbie, you’re amazing, I don’t know what to say!” Bruno thought the routine was “first class” and described her as a “saucy scrumpet” and that it was the “essence of Salsa”. Meanwhile Craig said “whatever you’re on darling, I want some!” and Debbie reckoned that their performance was “incredibly impressive”.
Dance: Tango to I Gotta Feeling by Black Eyed Peas
The judges’ verdict: It was the first perfect score of the series. Craig literally kneeled at Debbie’s feet, Darcey said she was “up there with the professionals, I’ve never seen a tango like that from a celebrity”. Shirley described it as “outstanding” and “first class” and Bruno thought it was “a masterclass, flawless”.
The judges’ verdict: Bruno hailed the pair’s Charleston as “absolutely brilliant” and Craig said that although the lift was “clunky” he loved the “incredible concept”. Darcey said the dance was “precise and speedy” and that Debbie was “fearless and agile”. Shirley rounded off the praise, saying “there was nothing I didn’t like”.
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.