Strictly’s Shirley Ballas defends ‘absolute gentleman’ Giovanni Pernice

The Strictly head judge said anyone who signs up to the show should realise it is 'quite difficult to do'.

Watch Strictly’s Shirley Ballas defends ‘absolute gentleman’ Giovanni Pernice

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Strictly Come Dancing's Shirley Ballas has called Giovanni Pernice an "absolute gentleman" as she defended him in the wake of Amanda Abbington's claims. The Sherlock star - who quit the BBC show mid-series - has said she was diagnosed with PTSD following her time on Strictly, amid reports she clashed with dance partner Pernice over his approach to training.

What, how, and why?

Amanda Abbington and Giovanni Pernice - Strictly Come Dancing 2023. (BBC)
Amanda Abbington has claimed she had PTSD after competing in Strictly, where she was paired with Giovanni Pernice. (BBC)

Head judge Ballas was asked by Lorraine Kelly about the claims that Pernice had been a tough teacher, and she defended him. The Masked Singer star went on to admit that rehearsals for the dance contest could indeed be tough but that anyone taking part in Strictly should be aware what they were signing up for.

Ballas said: "I've known Giovanni for many, many years and he's as absolutely splendid teacher, and my only ever experience with him is that of an absolute gentleman. He serves the show well and he gives 100 per cent.

"But you know... all these shows [like] Strictly, they're tough shows. So when you sign up for a show like that you kind of know what you're getting into. It's been on the screen for 20 odd years. It is quite difficult to do the show."

Strictly's Shirley Ballas appeared on Lorraine. (ITV screengrab)
Strictly's Shirley Ballas appeared on Lorraine. (ITV screengrab)

The Sun has reported that Abbington has allegedly asked for footage of their training sessions to show what really went on during her time on Strictly. The actor recently broke her silence on the rumoured feud, telling the Sun on Sunday she has been diagnosed with PTSD and has since received death threats.

Abbington said: "I was diagnosed with mild PTSD after Strictly for several reasons and I told a few people about that, in the utmost confidence, among other things that were happening in my life at the time both professionally and personally."

What else have Giovanni Pernice's partners said about him?

Debbie McGee and Giovanni Pernice during the Strictly Come Dancing Live Tour Launch held at Arena Birmingham. (Photo by Joe Giddens/PA Images via Getty Images)
Debbie McGee has spoken out in support of Strictly dance partner Giovanni Pernice. (Getty Images)

Since the reports of Abbington's claims about Italian dancer Pernice came to light, his former celebrity dance partner Debbie McGee has spoken out in his defence. She shared on social media: ""Happy memories. Giovanni and I had the best of times on Strictly."

But in the past other celebrity contestants have admitted he is a strong taskmaster in rehearsals. GMB's Ranvir Singh said: "Don't be fooled by his angelic face! He is a fiery Italian, super strict - I am a bit scared of him."

Lorraine airs on ITV1 at 9am on weekdays.

Read more: Strictly Come Dancing