STRICTLY Come Dancing star Debbie McGee is in York rehearsing for Saturday’s semi final - so she can also prepare for her part in the city's Grand Opera House panto.

The energetic 59-year-old has brought professional dancing partner Giovanni Pernice with her to coach her in the foxtrot and jive.

“It’s crazy. I did the first read through of act one for the panto in the morning after not arriving until midnight, and then from 2pm I was training our Strictly steps with Giovanni,” she told The Press last night.

“I know I can learn my lines okay but getting to grips with two new dances from the word go is much harder.”

She admitted that she didn’t feel confident about getting through the Strictly semi-final against Alexandra Burke, Gemma Atkinson, Jo McFadden and Mollie King.

“I never feel we have nailed a dance until the Thursday evening, so am never positive. I am not too concerned about the foxtrot, but competitive jiving is so different from a jive that normal human beings do,” she said.

This is despite head judge Shirley Ballas giving her a standing ovation and saying it would be “a memory etched in everybody’s heart” after Debbie scored 39 points for her American Smooth to Memories from Cats.

Debbie added that her inflamed back muscle has been causing her pain, but it won’t stop her dancing.

Of this year’s Grand Opera House pantomime, Beauty and the Beast, Debbie, who returns as Fairy Adorabella Marigold Angelpie, after appearing in last year’s production, Aladdin, said: “I am really happy to be back in this wonderful and beautiful city and am thrilled to be spending Christmas here again.

“My family love to come up and visit me here too and it is one of my favourite places in the country. The people are always so welcoming and friendly

“The Grand Opera House is a fantastic theatre, one of the best and most beautiful for a performer to appear in. The staff have been so accommodating too about fitting in with my Strictly Come Dancing commitments, so I am very grateful.

“We have a plan whatever happens on Saturday night at the semi-final. I shall be rehearsing in York again for both shows.”

Debbie, the widow of Paul Daniels and his former magician’s assistant, is starring in Beauty and the Beast with former Blue singer and actor Antony Costa, Ken Morley, famous for the character of Reg Holdsworth in Coronation Street and Lynne McGranger from Australian soap Home & Away.

Beauty and the Beast runs from December 15 to January 7 at the Grand Opera House. Debbie will miss the performances on December 16, due to the Strictly Grand Finale on the same day.