Debbie McGee supports Giovanni Pernice amid BBC Strictly Come Dancing controversy

A bearded man looking straight into the camera. He is wearing a navy suit and blue shirt, with navy tie.
-Credit: (Image: BBC)

Giovanni Pernice, a professional dancer on BBC Strictly Come Dancing, has been under scrutiny recently due to allegations about his behaviour during training sessions with celebrity partners. Despite his vehement denial of any 'abusive or threatening' conduct towards his partners, there has been a noticeable silence from his showbiz friends in terms of public support.

The situation took a turn for the worse when Rose Ayling Ellis, who won the 2021 series with Giovanni, stated that she 'believed what others were saying'. "She is just trying to not get involved. She won't be speaking about it publicly," an insider revealed.

However, amidst the silence from many of Giovanni's closest allies, one of his most cherished partners has stepped forward in his defence. Debbie McGee took to Instagram to reassure fans that her loyalty to Giovanni remains unshaken by the recent allegations.

In response to Giovanni's social media post urging fans to vote for him and Anton Du Beke at the National Television Awards, where they have been nominated for their travel series, Debbie, who was partnered with Giovanni in 2017, commented: "On it" along with a supportive heart emoji, reports the Mirror.

This isn't the first time Debbie has shown her support for Giovanni this year. When rumours first surfaced about a disagreement between Giovanni and his 2023 dance partner Amanda Abbington, Debbie made it clear whose side she was on.

She reminisced with a throwback photo of her dancing with the star, captioning it: "Happy memories, Giovanni and I had the best of times on Strictly."

Giovanni promptly showed his gratitude for the mention, responding: "Love you ... thank you," in the comment section.

The past months have been quite eventful for the dancer who exited Strictly ahead of schedule last year after his partner Amanda withdrew from the show.

Rumours circulated that the duo had a disagreement during rehearsals in the first week. The following month, Amanda cited 'medical issues' as her reason for leaving the competition.

Subsequently, reports emerged that the BBC has started investigating complaints regarding his behaviour on the programme.

A legal firm representing the complainants has indicated that the broadcaster is "evidence gathering" although the BBC has not officially confirmed the commencement of any investigation.

Giovanni has publicly refuted any allegations of misconduct. He addressed his followers on Instagram, stating: "To my dear fans, you will be as surprised as I am that allegations have been made about my dance teaching methods in the media this week."

He firmly dismissed any claims of abusive or threatening behaviour, expressing his eagerness to clear his name.

He added: "Those who have followed my journey on Strictly Come Dancing over the last decade will know that I am passionate and competitive. 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."

He concluded his statement with: "Thank you all once again for your continued love and support! Giovanni ."

A spokesperson from the legal firm Carter-Ruck informed the PA news agency: "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."

Subsequent reports suggest that Giovanni may have left the show, although neither the BBC nor the dancer have officially confirmed this.

Giovanni, originally from Sicily and a former champion of the Italian Championships dance contest, has been a part of the BBC One celebrity dancing series since 2015.

In 2021, he triumphed on Strictly Come Dancing with EastEnders actress Rose Ayling-Ellis, marking the first time a deaf contestant has won the competition.