Sally Nugent weighs in on Strictly line-up as show star deletes social media amid Giovanni Pernice probe

Sally Nugent weighs in on Strictly line-up as show star deletes social media amid Giovanni Pernice probe

BBC Breakfast addressed Giovanni Pernice's departure from Strictly Come Dancing during Tuesday’s show following news that the Italian dancer would not be returning this year.

The Italian professional dancer, 33, has been on the BBC 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”.

Giovanni Pernice with his 2023 dance partner Amanda Abbington (PA Media)
Giovanni Pernice with his 2023 dance partner Amanda Abbington (PA Media)

Acknowledging Pernice’s absence from the upcoming installment, BBC Breakfast host Sally Nugent noted that while Amy Dowden will make a return to the show following her breast cancer battle, the Italian dancer would not.

Speaking during a segment with TV critic Scott Bryan, Nugent said: “Professional dancer Amy Dowden is back following her treatment for breast cancer, but fellow pro Giovanni Pernice will not take part this year.”

Bryan shared his thoughts on Pernice’s exit, explaining that he believes the dancer could return to the BBC competition in the future.

Afterwards, Nugent spoke of the "great" news that Dowden was making a comeback, adding: “But the great news that we want to talk about this morning is of course, the return of Amy Dowden. It's great to see her back on the show.”

The BBC’s flagship morning show’s response to the news comes after Abbington deleted her social media accounts in the wake of the line-up announcement - and Pernice’s being absent from it.

Amy Dowden is returning after battling breast cancer
Amy Dowden is returning after battling breast cancer

At the time of writing, both her X and Instagram account are no longer available. The Standard has contacted Amanda Abbington’s rep for comment.

The British star recently broke her silence for the first time since the accusations of misconduct surfaced and branded Pernice “nasty”.

“I asked for them to be recorded, it was me. Giovanni is nasty. He was awful to a few of us, a group of us,” she told Daily Mail+ of her training sessions.

“You don’t understand how awful this all is. Giovanni’s fans have started trolling me now. I have had to come off social media and I’m getting death threats.”

Abbington also claimed she complained to BBC producers early into the series, and said she suffered post-traumatic stress disorder after working with the pro dancer.

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.”

Strictly returns to the BBC later this year, with Tess Daly and Claudia Winkleman back as hosts while Shirley Ballas, Craig Revel Horwood, Motsi Mabuse, and Anton Du Beke will judge the next wave of ballroom hopefuls.

The pro 2024 cast includes longest-serving star Karen Hauer, Johannes Radebe, and Graziano Di Prima, plus newer dancers Carlos Gu, Lauren Oakley, and Michelle Tsiakkas.