Debbie McGee – 7 fascinating facts about the Strictly Come Dancing star

Learn more about the contestant currently topping the Strictly ballroom’s leaderboard.

Many people know Debbie McGee only as the wife and on-stage assistant of late magician Paul Daniels, but her performances on Strictly Come Dancing have already shown her to be a star in her own right.

Betting flurries for the show’s winner are usually focused on the younger celebrities taking part, but at 58, accomplished dancer McGee has proved that age is no barrier to success.

[Read more: Debbie McGee named Strictly favourite]

How much do you know about the current queen of the ballroom? Read on to find out more.

She had an unusual stint in ballet

McGee’s love of dancing began at an early age and although some Strictly viewers have complained that her stage training puts her at an advantage, she has argued that a background in ballet is a very different skill.

Her days as a ballerina took off in an unlikely location when she joined the Iranian National Ballet in Tehran as a teenager. But McGee was forced to return to the UK after the Islamic Revolution brought a halt to her performing schedule.

She met Paul Daniels thanks to her back-up career

Looking for work back at home, McGee signed up to a company that specialised in summer resort shows and tours. They found her a job assisting magician Paul Daniels in his 1979 Great Yarmouth summer show, and the rest is history.

McGee was later asked to join BBC One series The Paul Daniels Magic Show alongside the man who would later become her husband, and his description of her – “the lovely Debbie McGee” – became a well-known phrase for describing magicians’ assistants.

[Read more: Debbie McGee - Paul is looking down on Strictly]

She’s a talented golfer

A keen golfer, McGee has put her talents to good use by competing in various celebrity charity matches over the years.

She’s also credited some of her other hobbies with keeping her in shape – she told the Daily Mirror: “Gardening keeps me trim, as does Pilates and yoga three to four times a week.”

This isn’t her first brush with Strictly

Of course, McGee has been a regular in the ballroom before as her late husband was a contestant on Strictly in 2010.

She may have picked up some inside info on the workings of the show, but hopefully McGee’s dancing will see her get further than Daniels who was the second celebrity to be eliminated in his series.

Mrs Merton made her famous

McGee was pretty recognisable before she appeared as a guest on The Mrs Merton Show in 1995, the chat show fronted by Caroline Aherne’s comic creation.

But one of the most memorable jokes from the programme was when Mrs Merton asked her: “What first attracted you to the millionaire Paul Daniels?”

[Read more: Will Debbie McGee be Strictly's first over-50 champ?]

McGee has said: “After Mrs Merton, people started to really recognise me. It gave us great publicity.”

She’s a published author

Showing that her many talents extend beyond the stage, McGee has worked on a number of novels with US author Susan Wilson.

On the non-fiction side, she has also penned a cookery and party book called Dine With Debbie.

She’s had plenty of other forays into reality TV

This probably isn’t the first time you’ll have seen McGee on a reality TV show.

Her past appearances include Celebrity Wife Swap, Celebrity MasterChef, The Farm, The X Factor: Battle of the Stars, Come Dine With Me, and Celebrity Carry On Barging.

McGee and Daniels also took part in an episode of the Louis Theroux documentary series When Louis Met…Paul and Debbie.

Strictly Come Dancing continues on Saturday nights on BBC One, with the results show on Sunday nights.

[How to avoid Strictly Come Dancing spoilers online]

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