Strictly rift rumours: 7 other couples who fell out over gruelling training

Amanda Abbington and Giovanni Pernice aren't the only couple who allegedly didn't click.

Strictly Come Dancing 2023,07-10-2023,TX3 - LIVE SHOW,Amanda Abbington and Giovanni Pernice,BBC,Guy Levy
Amanda Abbington and Giovanni Pernice have left Strictly 2023. (BBC)

Amanda Abbington's statement on quitting Strictly Come Dancing had one glaring omission according to some fans - any mention of her show partner, Giovanni Pernice.

The actor, who was confirmed to have left the 2023 series on Monday, 23 October posted on Instagram that "for personal reasons I am unable to continue," thanking her celebrity castmates and the production crew but not mentioning pro dancer Pernice once.

Pernice did share his own post with a photo of them looking happy that said: "Amanda ..I am so sad we can’t continue but I am proud of what we achieved and I am sending you so much love," but Abbington's exit and post has sparked rumours that the couple clashed over the intense training schedule and long hours Strictly demands.

It's not unusual for the gruelling schedule to get to the stars and pros - dancer Oti Mabuse recently revealed that she quit because of the "overwhelming" pressure to train some of the "interesting personalities" she was matched with.

Although most of the show's stars stay professionally tight-lipped while still competing, many of them have vented about their experiences afterwards - here are seven of the most memorable fall outs.

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Danny John-Jules and Amy Dowden (2018)

Red Dwarf star Danny John-Jules hit headlines in 2018 for allegedly falling out with his partner, Amy Dowden.

Insider reports claimed that a blazing row had left Dowden in tears during training, but both stars played down rumours of a fall out and even appeared on Strictly: It Takes Two to deny it.

'Strictly's' Danny John-Jules tells Amy Dowden 'I should have expressed my gratitude more often'
Danny John-Jules and Amy Dowden said 'things got intense'. (BBC)

Although they admitted "things got a little intense" during one rehearsal, Dowden said: "We took a half an hour break and got straight to it. I’ve never felt threatened or bullied by Danny."

But after John-Jules was voted out, he refused to join Dowden for the usual eliminated couple appearance on It Takes Two and later gave an interview claiming his "conscience was clear" over the issue.

He added: "The BBC never said it wasn’t true… they created the stories," which the BBC has denied.

Laura Whitmore and Giovanni Pernice (2016)

Pernice has had some incredible successes with his partners - winning in 2021 with Rose Ayling-Ellis, and reaching the 2018 final with Faye Tozer.

But he is said to demand a lot from his partners in training, and the approach hasn't gone down well with everyone.

Writing a blog post for Huffington Post in 2018, TV presenter Laura Whitmore said of taking part in Strictly two years earlier: "I’m still not ready to talk in depth about my experience on the show."

Whitmore danced with Pernice, who had split from her friend and another of his dance partners Georgia May Foote just before the series began.

She added: "I was placed with a dance partner I was extremely uncomfortable with – and in the end I felt broken. I cried every day. And I really was broken, both mentally and physically, by the end.

"To the outside world I tried to suck it up and smile, and I did that to the best of my ability, but it affected me deeply."

Steve Backshall and Ola Jordan (2014)

Ola Jordan was a familiar and friendly face in the Strictly pro cast for years, but in 2014 it was reported that her celebrity partner, nature presenter Steve Backshall, felt that she was bullying him during training.

Both stars denied he was being bullied, with Backshall saying to the BBC: "It's pretty crazy that the word 'bullying' was bandied around.

Strictly Come Dancing Partners Ola Jordan and Steve Backshall at Radio 1  Featuring: Ola Jordan Steve Backshall Where: London, United Kingdom When: 07 Oct 2014
Ola Jordan and Steve Backshall denied bullying claims...but didn't stay in touch. (PA)

"It's not a word that should be used lightly and certainly not one that I ever used."

Jordan added that it was "very hard" to hear the names that were being used about her.

But Backshall told The Express a year after the series ended that he was still good friends with the celebrity cast from his year, but "I haven't spoke to Ola for a good while now, but then there are several other people that it is the same with."

Gregg Wallace and Aliona Vilani (2014)

This 2014 partnership began with an awkward moment where pro dancer Aliona Vilani could not hide her disappointment at being matched with MasterChef judge Gregg Wallace in the launch show - and he definitely looked like he'd picked up on it.

Wallace and Vilani were the first couple to be eliminated and he later told OK! magazine that their difficult dynamic was to blame.

He said: "I didn't particularly enjoy Strictly. I love dancing, but if I were paired with somebody who liked me then I would have done better."

Fern Britton and Artem Chigvintsev (2012)

Former This Morning presenter Fern Britton is never one to shy away from her true feelings about her co-stars - she's been vocal in the past about her fallout with Phillip Schofield.

Britton has revealed she had a tough time on Strictly, too, claiming training with her pro partner Artem Chigvintsev was not fun.

Fern Britton and Artem Chigvintsev during a photocall for Strickly Come Dancing-Live Tour at the NIA, Birmingham. Strictly Come Dancing Live Tour comes to Birmingham on Friday, January 18th for the first night of the 2013 UK tour.   (Photo by Rui Vieira/PA Images via Getty Images)
Fern Britton and Artem Chigvintsev's recollections of Strictly differed. (PA)

Speaking at an event hosted by The Times in 2015, she claimed: "He would look at my feet and just kick me or shove me. He was like, 'Shut your face. Go home before I kill you'.

"I would say, 'Oh please just kill me, it would be easier.' Or what was his other one? 'If you go for a cup of tea now, I will blow off like an atomic bomb'. I thought, well I won’t correct him on that one."

Chigvintsev later shared his own version of events, saying he treated Britton with "respect and genuine care" and adding: "I cannot imagine what has prompted such statements which come as a shock to me."

Nancy Dell'Olio and Anton Du Beke (2011)

Dancer-turned-judge Anton Du Beke had a number of partners whose performance skills he complained about, including Ann Widdecombe and Judy Murray.

LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 26:  (EMBARGOED FOR PUBLICATION IN UK TABLOID NEWSPAPERS UNTIL 48 HOURS AFTER CREATE DATE AND TIME. MANDATORY CREDIT PHOTO BY DAVE M. BENETT/GETTY IMAGES REQUIRED)  Nancy Dell'Olio (L) and Anton Du Beke attend a party celebrating the launch of luxury interior designer Candy & Candy's new book
Anton Du Beke didn't hold back on Nancy Dell'Olio's dancing skills. (Getty Images)

But one of his biggest gripes was with Nancy Dell'Olio, who he regularly complained was not putting enough effort into training.

Speaking at an event after they were eliminated, he was asked what she was really like and responded "s***".

Asked whether that was the truth, he savagely added: "No, she never got that good."

Fiona Phillips and Brendan Cole (2005)

One of Strictly's best known pro dancers, Brendan Cole, was also known for being outspoken - sometimes to the judges in defence of his partners, other times to the celebrities themselves.

GMTV presenter Fiona Phillips trains for Strictly Ballroom with the help of her dance partner Brendon Cole October 2005
Fiona Phillips claims Brendan Cole wasn't very nice to her. (PA/Alamy)

Broadcaster Fiona Phillips was matched with him early in the show's run and Cole must have left a lasting impression, as 15 years on she said of him being axed from the pro cast two years earlier: "Brendan was a real b****r, actually. He wasn’t very nice. He was really naughty.

"He’s not on the show now. Karma indeed. It works its way every time."