The latest Strictly drama threatens to unravel the entire show

Amanda Abbington and Giovanni Pernice
Amanda Abbington and Giovanni Pernice on last year's Strictly competition - PA

Listen up. The lines are now closed. The votes are in and have been counted and verified: it’s way too early to talk about Strictly.

We haven’t even got that other dreary plebiscite out of the way, and yet we’re still being bombarded with stories about perfectionist Giovanni Pernice and his allegedly troubled relationships with the celebrities entrusted into his care.

Hold that thought. If July is not the time for politicking, it is most certainly not the time for Strictly.

None of us know what’s going on with Pernice, but what’s clear is that the BBC seem to have lost control of their flagship and it’s in danger of foundering on the rocks. Why are we still hearing about an imbroglio that began last October and should have been settled long before Ellie Leach and Vito Coppola triumphantly took the 2023 Glitterball?

Yet the row rumbas on. And with it not just the question of Pernice’s reputation, but also that of all those working on the show – the costume makers, the musicians, the judges themselves. Pull at a silken thread in such a careless way as this and who knows how far the ball gown will unravel?

If Pernice aka the King of Halloween – or indeed anyone else on the show – turns out to have been behaving unacceptably, then, of course, steps must be taken, but drip-feeding us vague accusations is sapping our collective spirits. On the other hand, this may be nothing more than rumours – at which point where is the duty of care towards the dancers?

For the soap star and retired athlete celebrities, Strictly is a hugely valuable stepping stone that raises their profile. For the professionals, it is the pinnacle of their career.

Will Giovanni be remembered as the Guinness World Record holder for Jive kicks and flicks, and Charleston swivels? For his Italian Latin Open Dance Championship (2012, for you purists)? Or will his legacy be that exquisite Couple’s Choice he performed in Season 19 with Rose Ayling-Ellis, when the pair won the competition? It was an unforgettable dance that made the nation weep when their chosen song Symphony segued into a heart-stopping moment of silent rumba – a tribute to the deaf community.

Sadly, this current furore is turning out to be equally memorable and is casting a shadow over his much-loved reputation.

What’s emerging is a situation that should have been handled with the sensitivity of a Viennese waltz or the military discipline of Claudia’s fringe. But no. Has the HR department clocked off for summer already? Or perhaps they’re too busy re-watching Traitors – for tips on hiding in plain sight?

If Strictly is allowed to descend into the sort of chaos that we’re more used to in the Cabinet, then, come autumn, Aunty might just find that, instead of settling down for a new season, we’ve all fox trotted off in disgust.