Debbie McGee and MeriteneMar 22, 2019
Even during a tough couple of years, Debbie McGee has always thrived on pushing herself to the limit - and at 60, she's only just getting started...
"My motto is use it or lose it,” laughs Debbie McGee when asked how she maintains her active lifestyle. “Mum and Dad always told me that life is about what you can do, not what you can’t.” Enjoying a busier schedule than ever following her 2017 stint on Strictly Come Dancing (she and Giovanni Pernice were finalists), she has come to place a real importance on recovering the right way. It’s clear that age really is just a number to Debbie: “Even with the cardio and all the lifts in Strictly I never once thought, ‘I’m too old to do this.’” The TV, stage and radio performer will, for many of us, be for ever known as “the lovely Debbie McGee”, thanks to her on-screen partnership with her husband of 28 years, the magician Paul Daniels. However, following Paul’s death in March 2016, Debbie admits she had to rethink her priorities. “I’m just very aware that life is short,” says Debbie when discussing her life and her recent experience with Meritene Strength & Vitality shakes and soups. “I’m still probably working too much though, because I love it!” Here Debbie discusses recovering from the strains of showbiz, spending time with her mum Lillian, 81, and how she really felt about her Giovanni dancing with Faye Tozer in last year’s Strictly...
Congratulations on turning 60, Debbie. Do you feel as young as you look?
Thank you. I’ve come from parents who never gave in to age. Even now Mum has a little bit of arthritis, but it doesn’t stop her. She still goes jiving every Saturday! When I started on Strictly Come Dancing I was, but by the time I had finished the show I was incredibly fit.
Did you enjoy the most recent series?
I thought the standard was incredible – the Blackpool show was the most impressive I’ve seen. I felt sorry for those contestants with no experience in performing or dancing.
Was it hard watching Giovanni dance with Faye?
No, I loved watching them. Faye was so good. Before I finished Strictly, all the pros told me I’d feel jealous of Giovanni’s next partner. If I wasn’t still in touch with Giovanni I might be feeling a bit left out, but we’re still good mates.
You credited Strictly with helping you after Paul’s death. How has your outlook on life changed since losing your husband?
I don’t think my outlook has changed since I lost Paul, in that I’m still a very positive person. But I do think my priorities have changed a little. I’m making more time to see my mum, things like that.
The whole Strictly process must have been tiring. Were there times when you felt run-down?
Definitely. During the show we’d be doing 16-hour days and I often didn’t get time to eat. I’d be doing interviews before rehearsals and filming It Takes Two in the evening. By the end of the series I was completely exhausted. I wish I’d known about Meritene shakes and soups then as they are great when you don’t feel like getting up and dancing!
Speaking of which, how have you been using Meritene Strength & Vitality’s shakes?
In the mornings when I’m in a rush I’ll have one as part of my breakfast, or I’ll have one if I feel tired or hungry late in the afternoon. It’s good to know it’s helping me to get the best possible recovery with the right vitamins and nutrients, like iron, without taking pills. They’re convenient and tasty, too.
How did you enjoy throwing yourself into panto, with the role of the Fairy Godmother in Sleeping Beauty?
Pantomime was so exciting and I had an amazing time. Yes it was tiring, but I’d tried Meritene while I was on holiday, before rehearsals started. I’d been feeling a bit run-down beforehand, but when I came back I couldn’t wait to get started.
You also appeared on Celebrity MasterChef in 2017. Do you use Meritene Strength & Vitality when cooking?
Definitely. The soup gives you a great basic flavour with lots of good nutritious things in it. The other night when I got back from holiday, I was tired and didn’t feel like cooking. I did a Meritene soup with loads of extra veg in it and then I added some noodles, which was delicious and it made me feel so much better.
It’s now a year on from Strictly – have you kept dancing?
Well, I’ve bobbed in and out of Giovanni’s tour. I did some tap-dancing in the panto, and I hadn’t tapped since I can’t remember when! I just love it. This year, I think I’m going to nd some more ballroom-based classes in my area, because I do miss doing it. It would be a shame to lose what I’ve learnt.