Strictly Come Dancing star Helen Skelton has joked that she is focusing on being “efficient” rather than “sassy and sexy”.

The 39-year-old TV and radio presenter made her debut on the BBC One show last week with an elegant American Smooth to You Send Me by Aretha Franklin, securing a score of 26.

Appearing on ITV’s Lorraine alongside her professional partner, Gorka Marquez, she spoke to host Christine Lampard about their burgeoning friendship.

She said: “I want really nice comments from the judges but ultimately I don’t want to let you (Marquez) down, because he is the one working hard.

“And, as you say, it takes over your life, talking about our families, because it is all-consuming.

“You have put all the effort in so I don’t want to let you down.

“And ultimately, if I do what I am meant to do, then surely the judges’ comments will be good.”

Skelton, who has appeared on shows including BBC’s Countryfile, Newsround and Blue Peter, also jokingly told Lampard: “You know what it is like. You get to a chapter of your life where being sassy and sexy isn’t your priority. You need to be efficient and on time.”

She said she has been receiving text messages from Marquez’s fiancee, soap actress Gemma Atkinson, who also competed on Strictly in 2017.

She said: “She messages and just says ‘Tell him this, tell him that’ and I am like ‘Thank God’. And she has done this show so she gets it.”

Marquez said: “She knows how hard it is being a celebrity on this show, and also she knows how hard I can be sometimes and how difficult I can be, and picky with everything.

“She is a good person to get tips from.”