Strictly timeline as Giovanni Pernice axed from 2024 professionals cast

It’s been a tumultuous year for the dancing pro

Jacob Stolworthy
Monday 15 July 2024 09:46 BST
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Giovanni Pernice addresses Strictly Amanda Abbington 'feud'

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Strictly Come Dancing has been hit with its biggest scandal in its 21-year history.

Since launching in 2000, the BBC dancing competition has defied the critics and fought off its ratings rivals to become one of Britain’s most-watched – and enduring – successes.

The only controversy the show faced was usually reserved to what has become known as “the Strictly curse”, in which celebrity contestants grow so close to the professional dancer they’re paired with that their real-life relationships are affected.

But that all changed in October 2023 when Sherlock star Amanda Abbington quit the series, just five weeks in.

It wasn’t until January that reports of behind-the-scenes issues manifested, with Abbington requesting footage of her “tense’ training sessions with Giovanni Pernice, one of Strictly’s best-loved pros. Since then, there has been a flurry of allegations about Pernice’s methods, something the Italian dancer has vehemently defended himself from.

As of 10 June, the BBC announced that Pernice – who has been on the show since 2015 – would not be participating in the 2024 season, as the broadcaster revealed the lineup of professional dancers, all without Pernice’s name included.

Below is a timeline of the furore surrounding Pernice.

Giovanni Pernice and Amanda Abbington were partnered on ‘Strictly’ in 2023
Giovanni Pernice and Amanda Abbington were partnered on ‘Strictly’ in 2023 (BBC)

23 September 2023: Strictly contestant Amanda Abbington issues a defiant message following rumours of a feud between her and professional partner Giovanni Pernice.

Ahead of the first 2023 live show, the Sherlock star addresses rumours reported in the media of a rift between her and the professional dancer.

She tell hers followers: “I’m wearing my jacket which says ‘who cares what other people think’ because who does care what other people think. There’s a little life lesson.”

“It’s all fun and I am ignoring the b******* clearly because people are t****. Just stop it, you know who you are.”

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Hours later, the pair receive high scores for their debut performance, and their chemistry is praised by the show’s judging panel.

21 October 2023: Abbington misses the Strictly live show “due to medical reasons”.

The news was initially announced on the BBC Two spin-off show It Takes Two, with host and former Strictly professional Janette Manrara telling audiences, “we have some breaking news”.

“Unfortunately, due to medical reasons, Amanda will not be taking part in Strictly Come Dancing this weekend,” she said. Strictly Come Dancing protocols mean that all being well, Amanda and Giovanni (Pernice) will return the following week.”

Amanda Abbington quit ‘Strictly’ five weeks into 2023 series
Amanda Abbington quit ‘Strictly’ five weeks into 2023 series (BBC)

23 October 2023: Abbington quits Strictly, saying it is with the “deepest regret” that she has left the show for “personal reasons”.

Posting a statement on Instagram, Abbington writes: “It is with deepest regret that I had to leave Strictly. I did not come to this decision easily or lightly but for personal reasons I am unable to continue.

“It was an absolute joy working with my fellow contestants, they are a beautiful, hardworking and talented group of people who I love and who I will miss seeing every Friday and Saturday and competing alongside.”

She goes onto thank the production team and “everyone on Strictly who looked after me and who are so kind and caring”. Abbington adds: “I’m so sad that I am unable to go any further. Thank you to everyone who voted and who sent wonderful messages and inspiring support. You are all amazing. Truly. Thank you. xxx.”

Pernice responds to Abbington’s Instagram announcement, writing: “Amanda … I am so sad we can’t continue but I am proud of what we achieved and I am sending you so much love” – however, it is noted by Strictly viewers that Abbington had failed to mention Pernice.

6 January 2024: It’s reported that Abbington has requested rehearsal footage from her time on Strictly amid rumours of a feud with Pernice.

The Sun published a report claiming that Abbington wants the video recordings of her practice sessions with Pernice as she allegedly wants to seek legal advice.

A source tells the publication: “The BBC have received a request for the footage they hold of Amanda and Giovanni. It is known as a data subject access request. There is a feeling that the recordings will lift the lid on what really goes on behind the scenes on Strictly.”

The BBC responds to Abbington’s data subject access request, claiming there are “robust” duty of care protocols in place, as well as “constant dialogue” between the show’s producers and its celebrity contestants.

Amanda Abbington requested ‘tense’ training footage from her time on ‘Strictly’
Amanda Abbington requested ‘tense’ training footage from her time on ‘Strictly’ (BBC)

14 January 2024: Abbington says she has received death threats since revealing she was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after her time on Strictly.

“I was diagnosed with mild PTSD after Strictly for several reasons and I told a few people about that, in the utmost confidence, among other things that were happening in my life at the time both professionally and personally,” she told The Sun on Sunday.

“I’m very sorry that people felt the need to send me death threats, threaten my children and bring up my past, healthy relationship with an ex-partner as an indicator of my current mental health,” Abbington continued. “I wish those people well.”

That same day, Pernice appears to address the Strictly scandal for the first time. In an Instagram post promoting new live show Let Me Entertain You, which was shared on Thursday (11 January), Pernice wrote: “I just wanted to take a moment to thank everyone who has sent messages of support over the last week – I really truly appreciate it – thank you thank you thank you.”

25 January 2024: Pernice defends his training style during an appearance on The One Show, telling host Alex Jones: “I’m definitely a perfectionist. Like every other competitor, I like to win.”

He adds: “But for me, it’s all about getting the best out of my partner, especially if I see there is talent there. I want to do my job properly. I think, like everyone, you train your life to be the best, and when you’re on Strictly, you’ve only got one week.”

Jones, who competed on the ninth series of Strictly in 2011, joked: “You would have cried if you’d got me. You would have been like, ‘Well, what’s the point?”‘

Strictly's Giovanni Pernice breaks silence on Amanda Abbington feud

16 March 2024: It’s alleged that two of Pernice’s former Strictly celebrity partners – Good Morning Britain host Ranvir Singh and former Love Island presenter Laura Whitmore, who previously said she was “uncomfortable” with Pernice, – have had a “tearful summit” with Abbington about their respective experiences” working with the dancer.

A source tells The Sun: “They met in person to share their experiences. Their meeting was emotional but heartwarming. They now know they are there to support each other after their tough times with Giovanni. Tears were shed.

“There is every possibility all three could take it further and formally complain to the BBC, but for now they’re comforting each other.” Pernice, Singh, Whitmore and the BBC declined to comment.

17 March 2024: Pernice reflects on Abbington’s decision to quit Strictly “for medical reasons”, calling it “ shame”.

Speaking on The Mirror’s Invite Only podcast, the professional dancer says: “I think, in my opinion, we could have gone all the way.”

Pernice says his reputation as a “perfectionist” comes from “caring” about the celebrity he’s partnered with, adding: “In every single part of the world, if [you’re] a professional dancer, we have to get these people on the Saturday night looking the best as they can.

“And if we get to have good scores at the end, I look back and say ‘I’ve done a great job’. We all care about our partners and we all want to look great on the Saturday.”

Laura Whitmore is said to have contacted Abbington about her own experience with Pernice
Laura Whitmore is said to have contacted Abbington about her own experience with Pernice (BBC)

19 March 2024: Lorraine Kelly does not shy away from hinting at the alleged scandal when Pernice appears on her ITV morning show, asking: “We know with Strictly sometimes it doesn’t work and it didn’t work the last time – are you gonna change anything?”

Pernice calls Abbington a “great talent”, stating: “As I’ve said in the past, I think with Amanda we could have gone all the way to the final.”

When Kelly suggests Pernice night not have “gelled” with the actor, he replies: “You’re just there to put these people in the best perspective to be the best they can be. As I said, Amanda was a great great talent, great dancer.”

Kelly previously said the BBC “should just have a quick look” at the allegations “to put everyone’s mind at ease”.

6 April 2024: It’s reported that Pernice, after “tense” talks, has been assured by the BBC that he will remain on Strictly. Upon request for comment, the corporation told The Independent: “The professional dancers for 2024 will be announced in due course.”

19 May 2024: Legal firm Carter Ruck says it has contacted the BBC regarding “numerous serious complaints” about his alleged behaviour while filming Strictly, according to BBC News.

20 May 2024: Pernice denies all claims of “abusive or threatening behaviour” and tells his Instagram followers he is looking forward to proving his innocence.

“You will be as surprised as I am that allegations have been made about my dance teaching methods in the media this week,” he writes, rejecting the insinuation that his behaviour had ever become “abusive”.

He adds: “I have always striven to help them be the very best dancers they can be,” he said of his celebrity dance partners.

“This has always come from a place of love and wanting to win – for me and my dance partners,” Pernice concluded, thanking his fans for their “continued love and support”.

‘Strictly Come Dancing’ star Giovanni Pernice has denied all allegations
‘Strictly Come Dancing’ star Giovanni Pernice has denied all allegations (BBC)

20 May 2024: Pernice faces more allegations of misconduct. Dancer Korina Travis, who has performed with Pernice in a professional capacity in the past, makes further claims about the dancer’s conduct in an interview with The Sun.

22 May 2024: Pernice’s sister Angela tells MailOnline that the family are completely behind him.

“Giovanni will always have our support, he is family and there’s nothing else to say,” she says from her home in Palermo, where the Pernice family are from.

“The whole family is behind him, mum, dad, me and everyone else, whatever he says is the truth and we support him with all our strength. We are 100 per cent behind him and nothing will change that.”

25 May 2024:It’s reported that the Italian professional dancer is at the centre of an investigation, which is being assisted by a number of celebrities he has previously been paired with.

According to The Sun, these files, compiled by an expensive lawyer, include photographic evidence that suggest Pernice’s training regime was so “brutal” that his celebrity partners were left “black and blue”.

However, it’s been claimed that Pernice is also compiling his own documents that he believes will clear him of any wrongdoing, including audio transcripts of one ex-partner apologising to him for their “difficult” behaviour.

It’s expected that these files will be handed to the BBC, which may prompt the corporation to launch its own investigation into the matter.

Giovanni Pernice won the series with Rose Ayling-Ellis in 2021
Giovanni Pernice won the series with Rose Ayling-Ellis in 2021

29 May 2024: The BBC responds to recent reports about Pernice’s alleged conduct. Its statement reads: “It is a longstanding position that the BBC does not comment on specific matters related to individuals. Nor ordinarily, would we comment on whether we are reviewing any individual complaints.

“Recently, we have seen a number of media reports about a high profile show. We would urge people not to indulge in speculation. Anyone involved in a complaint has a right to confidentiality and fair process.

“If a complaint is made to the BBC, we assess and take any necessary steps to establish the facts, whether there is a case to answer, and, if appropriate, what action should be taken.

“This is all within the context of the BBC having duties of care to everyone linked to a complaint - that applies to those that have raised the complaint and to those that have been complained about.

“Whilst we know our shows have been positive experiences for many of those who have taken part, we will always look at any issues raised with care, fairness and sensitivity to everyone concerned.

2 June 2024: Abbington brands Pernice “nasty” while denying claims it was him who had asked for their training sessions to be filmed. But a source close to Pernice tells the outlet: “Why should everyone believe her and nobody believe Gio? It feels like she wants to finish him off and ensure the BBC is on her side. Giovanni wants a fair hearing. He has said all along that he will take part in any investigation when asked.”

10 June 2024: The BBC announces the full professional cast for the forthcoming 2024 season of the dancing show, and Pernice’s name is not included in the list of dancers.

Among the professional names announced were Strictly favourites Dianne Buswell, Nadiya Bychkova, Graziano Di Prima, Amy Dowden, Karen Hauer, Katya Jones, Neil Jones, Nikita Kuzmin and Gorka Marquez.

Joining them are Luba Mushtuk, Jowita Przystal, Johannes Radebe, Kai Widdrington, Nancy Xu, Carlos Gu, Lauren Oakley, Michelle Tsiakkas and Vito Coppola – but no Pernice.

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