First that screen kiss, now Deb­bie, 58, cud­dles up to Ital­ian hunk, 27

Irish Daily Mail - - News - news@dai­ly­ By Laura Lam­bert

SHE rounded off their pas­sion­ate first Strictly Come Danc­ing rou­tine by plant­ing an im­promptu kiss on his lips.

And Deb­bie McGee seems just as smit­ten with her 27-year-old dance part­ner Gio­vanni Per­nice off-screen, as pic­tures of them meet­ing for re­hearsals show.

De­spite a 31-year age gap, the widow of ma­gi­cian Paul Daniels and the young Ital­ian ap­pear to have cast a spell on one an­other and can­not hide their close bond.

The pair have en­joyed cosy greet­ings near their train­ing base on two oc­ca­sions in the past fort­night.

At one mo­ment Per­nice, who is un­der­stood to be sin­gle, car­ried 58-year-old McGee’s bags for her as they walked to a taxi, while at an­other point they smiled and hugged for a pic­ture.

Their chem­istry has cer­tainly im­pressed the judges, who awarded them a score of 30 for their paso doble on last Satur­day’s show, leav­ing them sec­ond on the leader­board.

How­ever, pro­duc­ers and view­ers were taken aback by McGee’s un­ex­pected de­ci­sion to kiss Per­nice in the clos­ing sec­onds of their rou­tine.

Some fans ques­tioned the bold move, but McGee said her late hus­band, who died in March last year, would have been happy.

Speaking on ITV’s This Morn­ing on Thurs­day, she said: ‘He would love it. He loved show­busi­ness. That was real show­busi­ness [the kiss]. He would be look­ing down on me… he’ll be happy.’

McGee, who has a back­ground in bal­let, amazed Strictly view­ers with her flex­i­bil­ity and tricky moves, with the judges com­ment­ing that she ‘danced like a 20-year-old’.

She wowed with dar­ingly high kicks and even dropped down into the splits, be­fore go­ing in for the surprise kiss. Speaking to pre­sen­ter Clau­dia Win­kle­man af­ter their per­for­mance, she ad­mit­ted: ‘In re­hearsals I didn’t kiss him at the end, so he wasn’t ex­pect­ing it.’

Dur­ing her ap­pear­ance on This Morn­ing she also spoke about how she has main­tained her slim fig­ure, which was shown off in a red se­quined dress with a thigh­high split last week.

She said: ‘I’ve never been ob­sessed with ex­er­cise but I’ve al­ways done some­thing… pi­lates and yoga.

‘Lots of my friends who have done a lot of power run­ning have had hip and knee re­place­ments but, luck­ily, I seem to be OK.’

Tonight she and Per­nice will per­form the Vi­en­nese waltz to Billy Joel’s hit She’s Al­ways A Woman, as they bid to avoid the first elim­i­na­tion of the se­ries.

Fel­low con­tes­tant Jon­nie Pea­cock, a Par­a­lympian ath­lete, is ex­pected to dance with his prosthetic leg on show for the first time, as he and his part­ner Oti Mabuse take on the jive.

‘That was real show­busi­ness’

Left: The im­promptu kiss last week. Right: The pair smile for a photo dur­ing a break in train­ing Em­brace: Gio­vanni Per­nice and Deb­bie McGee

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