Debbie McGee has certainly been the shock story of the newest series of Strictly Come Dancing, and has put on some truly jaw-dropping performances. Most notably, she has been endearingly humble about all of them.
The 59-year-old, despite wowing audiences since her first dance on this series of Strictly, has claimed that she is “awful”, despite shimmying her way into next week’s semi-finals.
And while she has won the hearts of the nation with her surprising brilliance, Debbie’s self-deprecating attitude has not convinced everyone, and one former contestant in particular reckons that she is far better than she is making out.
Prior to this weekend’s quarter-finals show, when she and pro partner Giovanni Pernice performed an American Smooth to Memory from Cats, Debbie has hit back at critics who have suggested that she has an unfair advantage owing to the fact that she had ballet lessons when she was younger.
She spoke to the Mail Online and said: “I haven’t done that for over 30 years. What people keep saying is I make it look so easy. They don’t realise how awful I am on Monday and the progress I make between a Monday and a Saturday.”
However, Debbie’s insistence that she is “awful” at the start of the week when she is learning a new dance routine have been scotched by Aston Merrygold, who was initially the bookies’ favourite to win before being infamously voted off in week six.
The former JLS singer, 29, spoke to OK! Magazine and said: “I’m not sure she’s terrible. I’d be very happy to say: ‘Don’t try it, Debbie – you’re not terrible! You’re still very good come Monday!’
“Let’s not beat around the bush! She is amazing. On Saturday she’s incredible, on Monday she’s incredible.”
But even though Aston has revealed that he would put a “cheeky bet” on Debbie to win, he has admitted that he actually wants someone else to win.
He revealed: “I want Alex [Burke] to win – that’s one of my old school friends. I would love Alex to win it and take the trophy.”
Meanwhile, Debbie – who was married to the late magician Paul Daniels – has again rubbished the rumours that she and her dance partner Giovanni are more than just dance partners.
Appearing on This Morning recently alongside the Italian star, she said: “For a woman of my age, it was very flattering for people to think there might be more.
“I do have a little chuckle to myself. We have the greatest working partnership.
“We do have chemistry, we’re great mates and I think that’s more special than if there was anything else going on.”
There has been plenty of other drama where Strictly is concerned at the moment, as Debbie has also insinuated that not everybody is as nice in real life as they seem when under the lights on TV.
She spoke to the Daily Star and said: “I understand that we can all have favourites.
“But some people who are not very warm in real life come through on TV as very warm.”
It does beg the question of who the 59-year-old is talking about, doesn’t it? Given that the heat of the feud between her and 29-year-old Alexandre Burke is firing up.
A source spoke to the paper and said: “Debbie’s remarks will certainly cause a stir.
“Is she talking about someone on the show or someone else she has met in showbiz?”
Alexandra and Debbie were locked in a bitter feud weeks ago, and as the iconic Blackpool show approached, were barely talking.
A Strictly source explained at the time: “There is real drama between Alexandra and Debbie.
“Obviously they’re both very strong dancers and everyone expects them to reach the final.
“But with every week that passes, things become even more strained between them.
“Blackpool is normally a big celebration, but it’s likely to be extremely uncomfortable around those two because of this feud.
“Neither of them is showing any sign of winding down on this.
“The hardest part of it all is that their dance partners, Giovanni and Gorka, are the best of mates.
“But they’re both fearless and determined to win.”
Many people have been dazzled by the performances of Alexandre Burke and Debbie McGee, but their dances haven’t been completely universally praised, as Jo Clifton – a former Strictly pro writing for the Radio Times – seems to disagree with the majority opinion.
“If I were to sum up Strictly Come Dancing’s Musicals Week it’d be that there were moments of frustration and moments of confusion – as well as some show-stopping moments. But not from who you think…” she wrote in her article in the Radio Times.
“This might be a bit controversial, but if the dances were being judged on improvement, performance, production, choreography and difficulty, I would’ve put Debbie McGee and Alexandra Burke in the bottom two.
“I know a lot of people will disagree with me on this, but I just think at this point in the competition we’re expecting something wow from these two – and they weren’t wow. I’m kind of disappointed that Alexandra and Debbie come out and do the same thing over and over again every week.”
These opinions are not going to sit well with the public, I can imagine, but Jo seems to think that Alexandre Burke and Debbie McGee’s performances are not what they could be, and perhaps should be.
She continues: “Debbie’s performance of the American Smooth was just the same as the dances she’s been doing for a while – we all know she can kick her legs. And with Alexandra, you want to see her come out and do something amazing.
“I don’t know whether it was the routine for the Charleston, but she just didn’t do it. They’re just not doing anything where you go ‘Oh my God! That was amazing!’ It’s like ‘come on, we’re seeing the same thing from you two, week after week’. It’s flat, predictable and very safe.
“They both have the ability so I’d say to them to just take risks – do something flashy and work your arse off for it. Because they could both do something incredible. I want to see Alexandra come out and do something like her Jive from week four, and hopefully with the semi-final next week they will.”
Well, I think it’s safe to say that many people are not going to agree with her, if she judging scores and the public vote is anything to go by, but she is a former pro, so maybe she knows what she’s talking about. What do you think?