Paul Daniels' widow came second on the leaderboard and stole the show

Strictly Come Dancing 2017 kicked off in style on Saturday night and one contestant in particular stole the show with an amazing first dance.

Debbie McGee left everyone stunned when she performed a powerful Paso Doble with dance partner Giovanni Pernice, so much so that it earned her a standing ovation from the audience.

Even two of the judges – Darcey Bussell and new head judge Shirley Ballas – were on their feet after the 58-year-old’s debut performance which featured some impressive choreography.

Debbie performed the splits and was spun around the floor by Giovanni before planting a cheeky kiss on his lips at the end as they dance to Be Italian by Fergie – something that Giovanni confessed afterwards had been a “surprise”!

The crowd cheered loudly after the performance and host Tess Daly was stunned as she admitted: “You’ve blown all our socks off!”

Bruno Tonioli said the dance had “plenty of bite” and even the often hard to please Craig Revel Horwood was full of praise.

“Whatever Giovanni has done to you darling it’s certainly working, because you’re dancing like a 20-year-old!” he admitted.

Darcey praised the performance for allowing “flexible” Debbie more choreography than Giovanni whilst Shirley hailed her for being “outstanding”.

That praise was reflected in the judges’ scores as the pair received an impressive 30 out of 40, leaving them visibly stunned as they learned they’d topped the leaderboard.

By the end of the show Debbie and Giovanni had been knocked off the top spot by Aston Merrygold and Janette Manrara by just one point but the incredible performance has elevated Paul Daniels’ widow to being a favourite in the competition.

She was closely followed in the leaderboard by Holby City star Joe McFadden and Katya Jones, who scored 29 for their energetic jive.

All of this week’s scores will be carried over to next weekend’s show when the first elimination will take place.

If week one has been anything to go by, we’re in for a very exciting season of Strictly!

Anna Francis