Deb­bie Mcgee:

The star opens up about her Strictly ad­ven­ture, stay­ing in shape, and learn­ing to live with­out her late hus­band Paul Daniels

Closer (UK) - - Contents - By Jane Oddy

“I won’t rule out find­ing love again”

She’s been light­ing up S our screens on Strictly, ad­mit­ting on the show that she was miss­ing her late hus­band, Paul Daniels, and that he would have “en­cour­aged” her to en­joy the ex­pe­ri­ence.

And, 18 months af­ter Deb­bie Mcgee trag­i­cally lost Paul to a brain tu­mour, the for­mer ma­gi­cian’s as­sis­tant ad­mits that she is ten­ta­tively open to the idea of find­ing new love.

Deb­bie, 58, says, “None of us want to be alone. I’m try­ing to let life take me where I’m meant to go. But you have to meet the per­son you want to go out with, don’t you?

“I’m con­tent with my life as it is at the mo­ment. My grief is get­ting bet­ter – the good days are out­num­ber­ing the bad.

“I don’t know whether I will meet some­one again. I’m just tak­ing it one day at a time and try­ing to en­joy ev­ery mo­ment on Strictly. What will be will be."

The star re­veals it’s her dance part­ner and “great mate,” Ital­ian-born Gio­vanni Per­nice, 27, who has been her rock through­out her time on the show.

Deb­bie says, “Gio­vanni has been so un­der­stand­ing for a guy of his age. He’s so pro­tec­tive of me. Some­times if I talk or think about Paul, the flood­gates open, and he will give me a hug and be up­set for me.”

SHAP­ING UP

Deb­bie, who toured the world as a bal­let dancer in her twen­ties, is the old­est celebrity in this year’s line-up, and been wow­ing the judges with her en­er­getic rou­tines, which she puts down to her ac­tive life­style. Al­ready a trim size 8, she ad­mits she’s been feel­ing the ef­fects of the show’s no­to­ri­ously gru­elling re­hearsals.

Deb­bie says, “Age is just a num­ber! “I have to eat two meals ev­ery evening at the mo­ment be­cause I’m burn­ing so many calo­ries train­ing for the show. I’m still about 3lbs lighter than I was when I started! I’ve al­ways been fit, and do an 8am Ash­tanga yoga or Pilates class at my lo­cal gym three or four times a week. Ex­er­cise makes you feel hap­pier. They say that if you feel de­pressed, you should do some­thing ac­tive, be­cause if you slob around, you won’t be able to get to sleep as you haven’t achieved any­thing dur­ing the day.

“I don’t think my bal­let train­ing has helped me on Strictly; it’s my yoga. It keeps you sup­ple and strong and Pilates main­tains your core.

“I’m in it to win it – you don’t go into show busi­ness if you’re not a high achiever. I give 100 per cent to ev­ery job I do, I just hope I’m good enough to win.”

FRIEND FOR LIFE

Strictly is renowned for its back­stage ro­mances, and this year has been no dif­fer­ent as fel­low con­tes­tant and for­mer Em­merdale ac­tress Gemma Atkin­son, 32, has been linked to pro dancer Gorka Mar­quez, 27. And Deb­bie is adamant they would make a per­fect pair.

She says, “I keep hear­ing all th­ese ru­mours and have seen them at the stu­dio, but we’re al­ways be­ing whisked away to do film­ing. I know them both in­di­vid­u­ally and they are just de­light­ful peo­ple, so I am sure they’d make a great cou­ple.”

For her, she ad­mits she has found a friend for life in Gio­vanni, say­ing, “The fact that we get on so well has made Strictly re­ally spe­cial. Ev­ery day is dif­fer­ent. It’s so much bet­ter than I could ever have dreamed. Every­body is just so lovely.”

But Deb­bie re­veals that her Strictly ex­pe­ri­ence is tinged with sad­ness as it

re­minds her of how much she misses her hus­band of 28 years, who also com­peted in the show in 2010. The pair mar­ried in 1988, a decade af­ter first meet­ing when they worked to­gether on one of Paul’s magic shows. Paul – who was 20 years her senior – died in March last year aged 77, less than five weeks af­ter he was di­ag­nosed with a brain tu­mour.

EMO­TIONAL JOUR­NEY

Deb­bie says, “I’ve had a cou­ple of days where I’ve felt re­ally ex­hausted and it’s made me feel very emo­tional. It’s pushed me through the mill, and I miss Paul much more.

“He would have loved see­ing me on the show so much that I’ve been near to tears a lot more than I have since I first lost him. In those first few months, I cried at the drop of a hat, but I had come through that. Strictly has given me fan­tas­tic highs, but it’s been an emo­tional path as well.”

“Paul would have loved me do­ing this at my age. He never held me back and al­ways wanted me to fol­low my dreams. Af­ter Strictly I’m do­ing panto, as I al­ways like to have the next project lined up.

She adds, “Since Paul died, I haven’t stopped work­ing. My feet don’t touch the ground. I al­ways try to seize the mo­ment and not fo­cus on the neg­a­tive and that has re­ally helped me through los­ing him. I live my life think­ing, ‘I’m never go­ing to get this minute again, so make the most of it.’”

Strictly Come Danc­ing is on Satur­days and Sun­days on BBC One

‘I do get up­set, but Paul would be so proud of me’

Deb­bie and Gio­vanni have topped the leader board

Ru­moured Strictly cou­ple Gemma Atkin­son and Gorka Mar­quez

Deb­bie and Paul were mar­ried for 28 years

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