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Strictly Come Dancing favourite Debbie McGee, who was married to the late Paul Daniels, has opened up about her time playing the Fairy Godmother in the pantomime version of Sleeping Beauty. The former magician’s assistant is no stranger to taking to the stage but admitted struggles as she’s the “biggest giggler”.
She explained that audiences are often stunned to discover she doesn’t play an “ethereal fairy” but is in fact the total opposite.
Debbie recalled the moment she “broke down” during one of her performances into a fit of giggles.
She began: “Things that we love we will watch over and over again. Pantomime is something that the whole family can enjoy.
“It’s something we love going to and every year it’s a tradition. My family always used to go on Boxing Day.”
Debbie continued: “We both know that in the early days of panto, if something goes wrong it gets a big laugh and quite often it stays in [the show].
“I’m a person that I think people are surprised at when they see me at panto, because they expect me to be quite an ethereal straight fairy.”
Speaking with Mark Heywood on his Magic and Panto podcast, Debbie confessed she struggles to keep a straight face.
“But actually I’m the biggest giggler in the world. I end up breaking down quite often,” the Strictly finalist admitted.
The BBC radio host also dished on previous blunders she has suffered during live stage performances.
“Different things tend to happen to me or I forget my lines, and that ends up being a big laugh,” Debbie chuckled.
But the former magician’s assistant added that being “spontaneous” was at the heart of a good panto show and this was something she was taught by her late husband Paul.
Debbie explained: “Whatever happens with me, it’s completely spontaneous which Paul taught me actually.”
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Paul was a British magician and television presenter, who was best known for his self-titled Magic Show.
The BBC programme ran for 15 years and Debbie worked alongside him.
The pair tied the knot in 1988 and the couple remained together until his death in 2016.
Debbie has previously spoken of her grief after losing Paul and admitted it worsened when she stopped working.
“It didn’t come immediately after Strictly,” she recalls. “I did panto afterwards — God knows how I got through that, but I did. Then I went on tour with Strictly.”
She added: “I didn’t want to get out of bed. I couldn’t make a cup of tea.
“Part of it must have been sheer physical exhaustion, but there was more to it. I changed. My brain had changed.”
Debbie played the role of Adorabella Marigold Angelpie in the York production of Beauty and The Beast in 2017.
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