BBC Strictly Come Dancing's Giovanni Pernice 'quits' show after Amanda Abbington controversy

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Giovanni Pernice last danced with Sherlock actress Amanda Abbington in 2023 -Credit:No credit

Reports are swirling tonight that Strictly Come Dancing favourite Giovanni Pernice has quit the flagship BBC show.

Unconfirmed reports state the Italian champion dancer has decided to leave the show despite discussions ongoing for a further series. The Mirror reports that the BBC was "very keen" to extend their relationship with the 33-year-old, who has been subject to claims about his rigorous training techniques from past celebrity partners, including Sherlock actress Amanda Abbington.

Intriguingly, an internal memo naming this year's professional dancers for the show has been distributed without including Giovanni. It has now been reported that he is pursuing a fresh beginning on other TV shows. This evening, in response to these reports, the BBC has issued a statement about Giovanni's future.

This unexpected decision follows tension between the dancer and actress Amanda, who was his celebrity partner last year. The actress, 52, exited the competition in October after a series of conflicts that left her crying due to Giovanni's intensive training approach.

Amanda later disclosed that she was diagnosed with mild post-traumatic stress disorder following her participation in the contest. Accusations from other celebrity associates subsequently emerged.

"Gio feels the scrutiny on him has become too much, and now is the time to make a fresh start," a source told the Sun of Giovanni's alleged departure this evening. "He wants to focus on other TV projects, and feels he's achieved all he can on Strictly, having won the trophy back in 2021 and reaching the final an unprecedented four times." The insider added to the paper: "He remains adamant he's done nothing wrong other than being a hard taskmaster, but knows his style of training isn't to everyone's liking - especially in this day and age. He has a lot of other exciting projects in the pipeline right now, and he's just super-excited to get cracking on them. This, now, is his priority."

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LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 18:  Giovanni Pernice attends the UK Premiere of Black Adam at Cineworld Leicester Square on October 18, 2022 in London, England. (Photo by Eamonn M. McCormack/Getty Images  for Warner Bros. )
Giovanni has reportedly quit the show -Credit:Eamonn M. McCormack/Getty Images

A BBC spokesperson said tonight: "The Professional Dancers for Strictly Come Dancing 2024 will be announced in due course."

It appears that Giovanni's last performance on Strictly was with his 2023 celebrity partner Amanda last year. It's believed there were tensions between the two during rehearsals and behind the scenes while the Sherlock actress was competing on the show.

Earlier in the year, it was reported that Amanda had asked BBC chiefs for backstage footage of her training sessions with Giovanni, which could be part of preparations for potential legal action.

Amanda withdrew from the dance contest citing "medical reasons", however, rumours have emerged that the Sherlock star might be seeking legal counsel after allegedly suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as a result of her stint on the show, hinting at Giovanni's rigorous teaching methods.

The BBC reportedly stood firmly behind Giovanni, with no intentions to initiate an inquiry. "The feeling is he is a tough taskmaster, but hasn't bullied or abused anyone. The BBC see him as a key face of Strictly and will do all they can to support him," an insider revealed to the Mirror back in January.

In a March interview, Giovanni Pernice opened up about his partnership with Amanda on Strictly for the first time. Reflecting on her unexpected early departure from the show, he said: "It's a shame because, in my opinion, she could have gone all the way,".

Amanda Abbington, 52, famed for her part in Sherlock, was paired with Giovanni in the previous season of the BBC dance competition. However, after just five weeks, she withdrew for "medical reasons" and later shared that she suffered from PTSD following her experience on Strictly. Despite the controversy, Giovanni, who received unwavering support from the BBC, maintains that he always prioritised Amanda's welfare.

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While appearing on the Invite Only podcast with his close friend and Strictly judge Anton Du Beke, Giovanni confessed his drive for perfection. "I am a perfectionist, 100%, but it comes from a perspective of caring. I think all of the professional dancers are in the same place. In every single part of the world, if you're a professional dancer on one of these shows, you have to get these people looking the best they can on Saturday night."

"And if we have good scores at the end, I do look back and say, 'I've done a great job'. But we all care about our partners and we want that for them every single week to look great on a Saturday. There's no specific way that you are, or have to be with your celebrity. You make the most of their strengths so the only thing that's constant is the fact that you have to do a show on Saturday night."

Anton expressed: "I thought you and Amanda were marvellous. I thought you were terrific. I remember a few years ago, Kelvin Fletcher came in and danced in week one, and it was amazing."