Strictly Come Dancing star Brendan Cole has called on the show to change its judging system so that contestants with a background in dance do not get an unfair advantage.

The professional dancer, who was eliminated from the BBC One series with partner Charlotte Hawkins, cited show favourite Debbie McGee as an example.

Offering suggestions for a more level playing field, the 41-year-old told The Sun newspaper: “It wouldn’t hurt if there was a handicap system, like in golf.

“It would be good for people who don’t come from a stage school or performance background like Debbie, who has a ballet dance history.”

A golf handicap refers to the number of strokes deducted from a players score to fairly represent his average ability.

Cole’s comments came shortly after McGee, 59, confessed that she had struggled with keeping up her stamina during training and that her age meant she needed to spend more time stretching and warming up than her co-stars.

She has been widely tipped to win this year’s contest after wowing audiences with her impressive flexibility, which recently earned her a full hand of 10s from the judges.

With hours to go before she takes to the stage again with partner Giovanni Pernice this weekend, 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.”

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