GEMMA Atkinson has said she has 'not been given an easy ride' by boyfriend Gorka Marquez as the couple prepare to dance together for the first time on the Strictly Come Dancing Christmas special.

The Bury-born actor added that since welcoming the couple's first child her stamina has "completely changed", making her nervous for her dancefloor return.

Gemma and professional dancer Gorka met in 2017 as she competed in the hit BBC show paired with Ajaz Skorjanec.

The couple will perform a jive to I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus during Strictly Christmas Day special, just six months after the birth of first daughter Mia, despite Gemma not dancing at all since leaving 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."

Gemma described training with Gorka as "weird but good", adding: ". 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."

But with the clock ticking before the festive show, the couple have not had masses of time to practice.

Gemma said: "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 Strictly special will air on BBC One of Christmas Day.

Also appearing in the show are Joe Sugg ­— also dancing with real-life partner Dianne Buswell ­— as well as Mark Wright dancing with Janette Manrara, Richard Arnold with Luba Mushtuk, Chizzy Akudolu with Graziano Di Prima, and Debbie McGee with Kevin Clifton.