Debbie McGee prepares for Strictly showcase

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A BBC Radio Berkshire presenter from Wargrave has been signed up to take part in this year’s Strictly Come Dancing contest.

Debbie McGee, who was voted off Celebrity Masterchef last Friday night after a fry-up challenge, will be aiming to show the nation just how well she can take to the ballroom floor when the show returns next month.

And she knows the show well – her late husband, the much-missed Paul Daniels, was a contestant in the 2010 series, although he was the second celebrity to be voted off during his series.

However, Debbie should have a head start on Paul: she trained as a ballet dancer and appeared in cabaret, theatre and films. Since 2008, she has been host of a Sunday morning show on Radio Berkshire.

Ms McGee is one of 15 celebrities for the show, which will be screened on Saturday and Sunday nights from mid-September. She will be competing against Chizzy Akudolu, Gemma Atkinson, Alexandra Burke, Susan Calman, Charlotte Hawkins, Mollie King and Ruth Langsford, Brian Conley, Simon Rimmer, Jonnie Peacock, Aston Merrygold, Joe McFadden, Davood Ghadami, and the Revd Richard Coles.

Online bookmakers Boyle Sports has offered opening odds of 25/1 for Ms McGee to win the show.

Ms McGee said: “There are no words to describe how I feel about performing on Strictly Come Dancing. The excitement is overwhelming. I can’t stop smiling. It’s been the hardest secret I have ever had to keep!”

If Ms McGee does well in the show, it will cause a problem for theatre bosses at the Grand Opera House in York: she has been booked to play the Good Fairy in a production of Beauty and the Beast: Strictly’s final will clash with a Saturday 
night performance of the festive show.

The Good Fairy role is one she had at The Hexagon in 2013, where she appeared with local actor Dani Harmer, who has also danced in Strictly.

After finding out that she had lost out on a place in Celebrity Masterchef’s semi-final, Ms McGee said: “I always think what’s meant to be is meant to be.

“Life takes you where you’re meant to go.

“I’m not meant to have all the worry and stress of the semifinals, I’m meant to go off on holiday and that’s what I’m going to do!”

Gregg Wallace said that her hash brown had been “a little off putting” before declaring them a disaster, while John Torode said that her poached egg wasn’t cooked in enough water.