Strictly's Shirley Ballas responds to Giovanni Pernice's 2024 exit

shirley ballas, giovanni pernice, carlos gu, strictly come dancing 2023
Strictly judge responds to Giovanni's 2024 exitGuy Levy - BBC

Strictly Come Dancing's Shirley Ballas has responded to co-star Giovanni Pernice's exit from the 2024 series of the hit show.

Last week the BBC unveiled the judging, hosting and professional dancer line-up for the upcoming series, with Pernice's name absent from the announcement.

Pernice's absence from the new series coincides with reports of an internal BBC investigation into the dancer, after the broadcaster received complaints about his behaviour during show training. He has strongly denied allegations of "abusive or threatening behaviour".

In a new interview with The Mirror, head judge Shirley shared her views on the allegations surrounding Pernice and said he'd be "missed" on the show.

shirley ballas, giovanni pernice, carlos gu, strictly come dancing 2023
Guy Levy - BBC

Related: Giovanni Pernice releases statement following Strictly 2024 exit

"I know he is a hard worker," she said. "He wants the people to do the very best that they can do.

"Obviously in my life I was bullied a lot. I don't condone bullying on any path but also I don't believe gossip and what you read in the newspapers because things get escalated and they are blown way out of all proportion and it can turn into a great big snowball.

"So my feeling for Giovanni is, let them do this investigation or whatever it is they are doing and the truth will come out. We don't judge anybody until I know absolutely 100 per cent. I won't pass on the gossip unless I know 100 per cent it is true."

She added: "I have never ever, ever experienced any ill will or bad feeling or bad sportsmanship or rudeness from him. He will be missed."

giovanni pernice, strictly come dancing pro dancer 2023
Ray Burmiston - BBC

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Shirley said that she could "only talk from my own perspective," having known and worked with Pernice for 10 years. She additionally praised the professional dancer for always making a special effort with her mother, in particular when she was ill.

"So he has always been to me, and I will make that clear, to me... a perfect gentleman," she concluded.

Just this weekend, Pernice released a statement on social media following the news he won't be part of Strictly in 2024.

In that statement, he "rejected any suggestion of abusive or threatening behaviour", and added that he is fully cooperating with the ongoing BBC investigation.

"As requested, I have stayed silent, but I am looking forward to the conclusion of the investigation and ultimately clearing my name and establishing the truth," he wrote.

Related: Strictly's Layton Williams wants a 10 from Craig for his new role

In May, the BBC shared a statement in relation to "media reports about a high-profile show" believed to be Strictly.

It stated that complaints made were being taken seriously, with the broadcaster adding it was taking "any necessary steps to establish the facts, whether there is a case to answer, and, if appropriate, what action should be taken".

Pernice appeared in last year's series with Sherlock actor Amanda Abbington, who quit the show mid-season for "personal reasons".

Strictly Come Dancing will return later this year on BBC One, while spin-off Strictly: It Takes Two airs on weeknights on BBC Two. Both shows are available to stream on BBC iPlayer.

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