Giovanni Pernice will not return to Strictly Come Dancing for next series amid 'misconduct' probe

Giovanni Pernice pictured above (Getty)
Giovanni Pernice pictured above (Getty)

Giovanni Pernice will not return as a professional dancer for the 22nd series of Strictly Come Dancing, the BBC has confirmed while announcing its 2024 line-up.

The Italian professional dancer, 33, has been on the BBC One celebrity dancing show since 2015 when he reached the grand final with Coronation Street star Georgia May Foote.

The BBC did not announce Pernice as part of its line-up of professional dancers for 2024 following reports that he would not compete.

Sicily-born Pernice, a previous winner of the Italian Championships dance competition, was last paired with Sherlock actress Amanda Abbington, who withdrew from the competition in 2023 citing “personal reasons”.

In 2021, Pernice lifted the Strictly glitterball trophy alongside EastEnders star Rose Ayling-Ellis, who was the first deaf contestant to win.

It was reported that the BBC recently launched an internal investigation after her was accused of “threatening and abusive behaviour” towards former celebrity partners. Pernice previously rejected allegations of “abusive or threatening behaviour” and said he looks “forward to clearing my name”.

Pernice dancing with 2022 Strictly partner Richie Anderson (PA)
Pernice dancing with 2022 Strictly partner Richie Anderson (PA)

Three women, whose identities haven't been confirmed by Strictly or Pernice, have sought the services of law firm Carter Ruck to investigate his behaviour.

A Carter Ruck spokesperson told The Standard last month: “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.”

In the wake of the furore, the BBC did made rare comment about the investigation and insisted: “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. We will not be commenting further.”

The announcement about the BBC star’s Strictly future comes after it was alleged that a professional dancer required months of therapy after working with Pernice on the show.

The Sun reported that the unnamed dancer experienced “significant emotional distress” during their time on the show, necessitating professional help.

A source told the newspaper: “One of the dancers on the show found it so traumatising that they sought professional help. The show is unlike anything else on TV.  The pressure on those taking part is huge and shouldn’t be under-estimated.

“But Giovanni’s demanding behaviour behind the scenes took it up a notch and caused significant emotional distress.

“They were so upset by what happened they needed counselling to recover from the toll it took.”

The Standard had previously contacted Strictly Come Dancing and Giovanni Pernice’s rep for comment.

The pro dancer with Rose Ayling-Ellis in 2021 (PA)
The pro dancer with Rose Ayling-Ellis in 2021 (PA)

In the wake of the legal dispute, Pernice hired rival law firm Schillings. His case is being handled by Joelle Rich, who represented Johnny Depp in his libel trial in 2020.

A spokesman for Pernice told the publication: “Schillings is engaging with BBC Studios to provide it with Giovanni's evidence to strongly rebut the claims being made about him and confirm Giovanni is fully cooperating.

“As with any reality TV show, when decisions are being made for entertainment reasons, the producers have a duty of care to all participants.”

The dancer has strongly denied that there is any truth to the allegations, previously stating he “rejects any suggestion of abusive or threatening behaviour, and looks forward to clearing his name”.

Taking to Instagram last month, he wrote: “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. Of course, I reject any suggestion of abusive or threatening behaviour, and I look forward to clearing my name.

“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.”

Reports about his alleged conduct on Strictly first surfaced amidst rumors of a behind-the-scenes feud with Sherlock actress Abbington. She quit the show last year after five weeks and is now believed to be seeking legal advice.

While Abbington cited "personal reasons" for her exit, it later emerged that she had requested video footage of her rehearsals and was diagnosed with mild PTSD following her time on Strictly.