Gemma Atkinson has said boyfriend Gorka Marquez is “not giving me an easy ride” as they train to dance together for the first time on the Strictly Come Dancing Christmas special.
The former Hollyoaks star added that her stamina has completely changed since the couple welcomed their first child, so she is nervous about returning to the dancefloor.
She met the professional dancer when she competed on the 2017 series of the BBC show, paired with Aljaz Skorjanec, and she gave birth to daughter Mia earlier this year.
The real-life couple will perform a jive to I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus during the Strictly festive special and Atkinson said she has not danced at all since she left the competition.
She said: “People always say to me, ‘Do you and Gorka dance together at home?’, and we’ve never danced together at all. All I’ve done since Strictly is have a baby.”
She added: “My stamina has completely changed, massively.
“During Strictly, one of the dances I found the hardest and got the lowest score for was the jive, and that’s what we’re doing for the Christmas special – so I’ve been thrown in at the deep end again. It’s just something I need to try and get over and enjoy it.”
Discussing what it is like to train with Marquez, she said: “It’s weird but it’s good. You kind of see it all from a new perspective, which is good.
“Dancing with Aljaz was so amazing. Dancing with Gorka is funny because he’s very authoritative in the dance studio, which makes me laugh because at home it’s me that wears the trousers!
“I’ve never seen Gorka at work so to speak, but he’s a fantastic teacher. He’s not giving me an easy ride, he’s put his foot down for the time we’re rehearsing – phone down, shoes on and let’s get on with it. He was quite strict with me, which I liked.”
She continued: “We’ve had about six hours and that’s it! I’m not winging it obviously, I know the routine, but if it was the main show then I’d be absolutely bricking myself right now and thinking I’m going home this week.
“Gorka’s busy with the main show and we live in Manchester so we’ve been Face Timing at night and rather than the whole soppy ‘I miss you’, we’ve been going ‘right, five, six, seven, eight’ and trying to do the dancing. It’s been quite funny.”
The couple will be competing with Joe Sugg, who will also be dancing with his real-life girlfriend Dianne Buswell, while Mark Wright will dance with Janette Manrara, Richard Arnold will dance with Luba Mushtuk, Chizzy Akudolu will dance with Graziano Di Prima and Debbie McGee will dance with Kevin Clifton.
The Strictly Come Dancing Christmas special will air on BBC One on Christmas Day.