Debbie McGee defends Strictly’s Giovanni Pernice as he’s axed from 2024 lineup

Debbie McGee has issued a statement defending former Strictly Come Dancing professional Giovanni Pernice, who has been axed from the lineup for the new season of the ballroom show.

Pernice, who had been a staple on the competition since 2015, has faced a flurry of allegations of poor behaviour after several former celebrity contestants raised questions about his teaching methods while on the show.

On Monday (10 June), the BBC announced the professional cast for its forthcoming season of the dancing competition, with Pernice’s name noticeably absent from the line-up.

McGee, who was partnered with Pernice in 2017, said on social media that she was “heartbroken” by the news of him not continuing in the show.

“My experience on Strictly will always be happy and life changing,” she wrote. “Gio nurtured me through my grief and gave me confidence I could do things I thought was beyond me.”

This is not the first time that McGee has spoken up in support of Pernice. When complaints were initially raised over his behaviour and methods, the TV star said in January that she had the “best of times” working with him during her stint on the competition.

The allegations first mounted when Pernice’s 2023 partner, Sherlock actor Amanda Abbington, withdrew from the competition citing “personal reasons”.

McGee said Pernice ‘nurtured’ and supported her during her time on ‘Strictly’ (Getty Images)
McGee said Pernice ‘nurtured’ and supported her during her time on ‘Strictly’ (Getty Images)

Shortly after, she reportedly requested what was described by a source as “tense” footage of her rehearsals with Pernice for a supposed investigation. In a recent interview with the Daily Mail, Abbington launched a fresh attack on Pernice, claiming he was “awful” towards a group of former contestants.

It was alleged in March that Good Morning Britain host Ranvir Singh and former Love Island presenter Laura Whitmore had a “tearful summit” with Abbington about their respective “difficult experiences” working with the dancer “who is well known to be intense during training”.

The Italian dancer has previously rejected allegations of “abusive or threatening behaviour”, stating that he looks “forward to clearing my name”.

Pernice has faced a flurry of allegations over his behaviour on show (Getty Images)
Pernice has faced a flurry of allegations over his behaviour on show (Getty Images)

In May, he wrote: “You will be as surprised as I am that allegations have been made about my dance teaching methods in the media this week.” He went on to describe himself as “passionate and “ambitious” while competing on the show.

“I have always striven to help them be the very best dancers they can be,” he said. “This has always come from a place of love and wanting to win – for me and my dance partners.”

Among the professional names announced for the forthcoming season of the show were Strictly favourites Dianne Buswell, Nadiya Bychkova, Graziano Di Prima, Amy Dowden, Karen Hauer, Katya Jones, Neil Jones, Nikita Kuzmin, and Gorka Marquez.

Joining them are Luba Mushtuk, Jowita Przystal, Johannes Radebe, Kai Widdrington, Nancy Xu, Carlos Gu, Lauren Oakley, Michelle Tsiakkas, and Vito Coppola – but no Pernice.

Pernice had competed on ‘Strictly’ since 2015 (Getty Images)
Pernice had competed on ‘Strictly’ since 2015 (Getty Images)

The BBC is in the process of gathering evidence for a possible investigation, after it was approached by law firm Carter-Ruck, with allegations made by Abbington.

A statement from law firm Carter-Ruck said: “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.”

Strictly Come Dancing will return in the autumn, with Shirley Ballas, Motsi Mabuse, Craig Revel Horwood, and Anton Du Beke back in the judges’ chairs.