Strictly Come Dancing star Debbie McGee admitted that she struggled with stamina as she told how her age put her performance at a slight disadvantage.

The 59-year-old is already a favourite to win the BBC One competition after stunning audiences from week one with her technical skill and flexibility.

But she has faced criticism from some viewers, who pointed out that her years in show business – which most famously included acting as assistant to her late husband, magician Paul Daniels – have equipped her with some dance training.

Strictly Come Dancing 2017McGee has impressed audiences and judges throughout the programme (Guy Levy/BBC/PA)

With just two days to go before she takes to the Strictly dance floor again with partner Giovanni Pernice, she told the Press Association: “I’ve always stretched and done some sort of exercise.

“I do Pilates and yoga, but now I have done this I will definitely do cardio as well. That’s what has let me down on the programme, having the stamina, and it’s purely lack of cardio.”

She continued: “To do these dances, and particularly at my age, you have to warm up, you can’t just go and do them, and when you’re older it takes a bit longer.

“There is a process of stretches and warm ups – it usually takes about an hour to get my body to where I need it.”

“You don’t have time to do it properly on Saturdays, so I am much colder when I do the dance for last show than any other time.”

Despite the battle with fitness, McGee said that she loved being on the show and had not yet dared to think about which dance could be her last.

Having already signed up to move straight into a panto role in Beauty And The Beast at the Grand Opera House York almost as soon as Strictly concludes, she said: “If you suddenly are doing nothing, it’s awful.

“In the past I always had Paul-bear, so we always had each other and it was never such a big come down. It would have worried me if I wasn’t going straight to work afterwards.”

Strictly Come Dancing continues on BBC 1 at 6.45pm on Saturday.