All the celebrities who defended Giovanni Pernice as he leaves Strictly Come Dancing

2 views 1:53 pm 0 Comments June 11, 2024
Strictly Come Dancing, Giovanni Pernice
Strictly Come Dancing star Giovanni Pernice won’t be returning to the BBC competition (Picture: BBC/Guy Levy)

Following months of speculation, it’s been confirmed Giovanni Pernice will not be returning to Strictly Come Dancing.

The 2024 line-up professional dancers, including Amy Dowden returning after her cancer diagnosis and reigning champion Vito Coppola, are hitting the ballroom, but the Italian dancer, 33, has not been included.

This follows claims that the BBC was launching an investigation after accusations made about his behaviour by former contestants, including Amanda Abbington, who quit Strictly after five weeks last year, citing ‘personal reasons’ at the time, before saying her experience left her with PTSD.

It is believed that Amanda met with Giovanni’s former dancer partners Laura Whitmore and Ranvir Singh to ‘compare notes’ about their experiences with him on the show, and have considered launching legal action.

It was later claimed a male celebrity has ‘joined the group of female stars’ who have complained about him and has ‘been in touch with their lawyers’, while another star has reportedly suffered ‘significant emotional distress’.



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Giovanni meanwhile has defended himself on social media, saying he ‘rejects any suggestion of abusive or threatening behaviour, and I look forward to clearing my name’ and is said to have instructed lawyers to fight the claims.

Strictly Come Dancing: Amanda Abbington and Giovanni Pernice
Amanda Abbington claimed she was left with PTSD after pairing with Giovanni on Strictly (Picture: BBC/Guy Levy)
Rose Ayling-Ellis and Giovanni Pernice winning Strictly Come Dancing in 2021
Giovanni won Strictly in 2021 with Rose Ayling-Ellis (Picture: PA)

Rose Ayling-Ellis, who won the Glitterball Trophy with Giovanni in 2021 and a Bafta for their silent dance, is said to be ‘finding the whole situation really tough’, and ‘trying to not get involved’, while Strictly winner Stacey Dooley has urged people to ‘believe women when they come forward’.

Giovanni’s girlfriend Molly Brown has stood by him against all the allegations, sharing adorable loved-up pictures of the pair on Instagram, calling him her ‘best friend’ and sharing her support for him publicly.

It was also reported she thought the three unnamed women’s claims were ‘bizarre’, with an insider previously telling MailOnline: ‘Gio has been through an horrific few months but Molly has been an absolute rock the whole time.

‘She’s told friends how bizarre she thinks the stuff is that Gio’s been accused of because it doesn’t tally with the person she knows.’

They added: ‘She’s been a huge support to Gio over the last few months and he’s been very open with his friends about how important that has been. He’s not sure he’d coped without having her around.’

But which other celebrities have defended Giovanni?

Anton Du Beke

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Anton Du Beke and Giovanni Pernice
Anton Du Beke is standing by his co-star’s side (Picture: Ken McKay/ITV/REX/Shutterstock)

Strictly judge Anton Du Beke – whose travel show with Giovanni has reportedly been axed – has made it clear in the last few months that he’s standing by the dancer’s side.

The pair have reunited for their rehearsals for their tour together, which begins later this month.

During a rehearsal, Giovanni reminded fans the tour is called Together, to which Anton made a gesture between them, before drawing his Strictly co-star in closer.

They then said in unison: ‘And whatever we do, we do it together.’

Craig Revel Horwood

Craig Revel Horwood
Craig Revel Horwood defended Strictly’s pro dancers (Picture: Brian J Ritchie/Hotsauce/REX)

Though judge Craig Revel Horwood has not publicly commented on the accusations against Giovanni, he did appear to defend him as one of the dancers on Strictly.

Earlier this year, when ‘feud’ claims between Amanda and Giovanni emerged, Craig called the pro dancers the ‘backbone of the show’.

He continued to The Sun: ‘The pros not only have to be creative and be able to be good choreographers, they also have to be psychiatrists, doctors, they have to be nurses, they have to be welfare guidance people.

‘It’s not just teaching dance.’

Shirley Ballas

Shirley Ballas
Shirley Ballas branded Giovanni ‘an absolute gentleman’ (Picture: Ken McKay/ITV/Shutterstock)

Craig’s comments came after those of head judge Shirley Ballas, who appeared to make a pointed dig at Sherlock star Amanda back in January.

She spoke about her interactions with Giovanni, as well as how famous faces knew how difficult the programme was when signing up, saying: ‘I’ve known Giovanni for many, many years and he is an absolutely splendid teacher and my experiences with him have only ever is that he is an absolute gentleman.

‘He serves the show well and he gives 100%.’

Talking to ITV host Lorraine Kelly about how ‘sometimes partnerships just don’t work’, Shirley added: ‘This is a tough show so when people sign up, they kind of know what they are getting into.

‘It’s been on the screen for 20 odd years, so it is quite difficult to do the show.’

Debbie McGee

Giovanni partnered with Debbie McGee on Strictly in 2017, and made it all the way to the final that year.

Following the news he was not returning to Strictly, Debbie wrote on Instagram: ‘I am heartbroken for @giovannipernice My experience on Strictly will always be happy and life changing.

‘Gio nurtured me through my grief and gave me confidence I could do things I thought was beyond me.’

Earlier this year, shortly after it was claimed Amanda, 55, sought legal advice about her experience on Strictly, Debbie, 65, jumped in to show her support for Giovanni, making it clear that she had a joyful experience with him.

Sharing a photo of them together simultaneously on both Instagram and Twitter, she wrote: ‘Happy memories. Giovanni and I had the best of times on Strictly 🥰.’

‘Love you … thank you ❤️❤️❤️,’ Giovanni replied.

She later told The Express: ‘All my memories of Strictly behind-the-scenes are happy ones. I adored every single minute and every single person I was working with.

‘I never felt an ounce of competitiveness. Everyone supported each other – Pros and Celebrities.’

She added to the publication: ‘Giovanni was amazing, for such a young man – he was so kind and thoughtful.

‘He pushed me beyond what I thought I was capable of and we laughed so much, it was the first time since Paul had died that I laughed and giggled from my soul.’

Debbie had previously spoken about how her Strictly experience had helped shape her life after the death of her husband, the magician Paul Daniels.

Michelle Visage

During his Let Me Entertain You tour in March, Giovanni was supported by Michelle Visage, who stepped in as a replacement for pro dancer Lauren Oakley.

Singer Michelle, competed on Strictly with Giovanni in 2019, declared: ‘I’m in!’ in a video they shared on Instagram.

Giovanni Pernice and Michelle Visage on Strictly Come Dancing
Michelle Visage said she fought with Giovanni ‘every day’ but for ‘good reason’ (Picture: PA)

Michelle had previously said on This Morning, according to reports: ‘I don’t like gossip, so I’m not here to gossip, but what I can say from my experience was yes, he’s tough.

‘He’s probably the toughest pro there is. I wanted that. So it depends, some people can handle that, some people don’t want to handle that. I wanted that.

‘We fought every day, and it was for good reason because we got to where we wanted to be, we looked beautiful together.’

Kristina Rihanoff

Kristina Rihanoff
Kristina Rihanoff branded Giovanni’s exit ‘very sad’ (Picture: Ken McKay/ITV/REX)

Former Strictly professional Kristina Rihanoff, who appeared on the show from 2008 to 2015, said it was ‘very sad’ that Giovanni will not be part of this year’s line-up.

She added: ‘He produced some really memorable dances, I think the show will lose a wonderful dancer and choreographer.

‘I think all of us on the show are quite strong perfectionists. Coming from a competitive background, we want to be the best not just for ourselves but for our celebrities too.

‘I think we all can be very strict, maybe even brutal sometimes, because we want to deliver a good dance.

‘There’s absolutely no way that we need to be, as it was reportedly said, abusive or anything of that nature.

‘But we do have a job and it’s a lot of stress, a lot of pressure on us to deliver a great dance.

‘Because if it’s a bad dance, and not-so-good choreography, we’re also in the wrong, we’re also going to be dragged through the public comments, saying we don’t do good choreography.

‘But if we push a little bit and we say something, then you’re also in the wrong. So it’s a very difficult territory to be in and I’m not here to defend or offend anyone. I’m just here to say what I know of Giovanni and my time with him on the show.’

She continued: ‘Giovanni has said it himself, he is a perfectionist, he is driven to deliver.

‘If there was something said in the wrong way, I suppose we are yet to find out. What to think not very nice to see is months and months and months of stories, and we still yet don’t know the facts.

‘When he worked on the show with me, and we danced in some group numbers, he was always a very nice, easy-going guy, who’s there just to do his job.

‘It can be a very difficult space when all of us professionals come together and do a dance, there are a lot of strong personalities in the room.

‘He was one who was very easy to work with, for me, for what I know of him as a professional dancer – obviously, I wasn’t there with him in the room when he was teaching a celebrity.’

Giovanni Pernice
Giovanni has said he ‘looks forward to clearing my name’ (Picture: Ken McKay/ITV/REX/Shutterstock)

She added: ‘I think the show will always go on and do great things because they have a great pool of dancers.

‘I think it is sad that Giovanni is not going to be there, I personally always look forward to his choreography because that’s what I appreciate because this is the job I love and used to do.

‘And I think he produced some beautiful dances and it’s always exciting to watch what he would choreograph so to me, personally, I think the whole situation is very, very sad.’

In May, Giovanni defended himself on social media and wrote that ‘you will be as surprised as I am that allegations have been made about my dance teaching methods in the media this week’ and the public has seen him ‘passionate and competitive’ on Strictly.

‘Of course, I reject any suggestion of abusive or threatening behaviour, and I look forward to clearing my name,’ he said.

He added: ‘No-one is more ambitious for my dance partners than me.

‘I have always striven to help them be the very best dancers they can be.

‘This has always come from a place of love and wanting to win – for me and my dance partners.’

Reality star Jamie Laing, who competed on Strictly in 2019 with Oti Mabuse, and Ant McPartlin’s ex-wife Lisa Armstrong, a make-up artist on Strictly, were among those liking his post.

A legal firm acting on behalf of complainants said the broadcaster is ‘evidence gathering’ but the BBC has not confirmed any probe has begun.

A statement from law firm Carter-Ruck said: ‘There have been numerous serious complaints made to the BBC who are now in the process of evidence gathering.

‘As it is still an ongoing matter no further comment can be made at this stage.’

Giovanni joined Strictly in 2015, and made it all the way to the final that year with Coronation Street star Georgia May Foote.

Strictly Come Dancing returns to BBC One later this year.

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