Strictly Come Dancing professional dancer 'needed therapy after working with Giovanni Pernice'

Giovanni Pernice  (Getty)
Giovanni Pernice (Getty)

Strictly Come Dancing star Giovanni Pernice is facing a fresh accusation after it was alleged that a professional dancer required months of therapy after working with him.

The BBC launched an internal investigation after the 33-year-old was accused of “threatening and abusive behaviour” towards former celebrity partners, according to reports. He vehmently denies the claim.

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.”

Last week, an unidentified male star, who collaborated with Pernice during his tenure on the show, reportedly recounted his experiences to the law firm.

Now it has been alleged that a professional dancer required three months of therapy after working with Giovanni on the show.

Pernice dancing with Amanda Abbington on 2023’s Strictly (BBC/Guy Levy)
Pernice dancing with Amanda Abbington on 2023’s Strictly (BBC/Guy Levy)

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 has contacted Strictly Come Dancing and Giovanni Pernice’s rep for comment.

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.”

Amid the reports, the BBC made a rare comment about the investigation last week 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 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 Amanda 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.