Everything Giovanni Pernice's Strictly partners said about his 'brutal' training as he 'quits'

Everything Giovanni Pernice's Strictly partners said about his 'brutal' training as he 'quits'

Strictly Come Dancing star Giovanni Pernice has been a professional dancer on the BBC entertainment show since 2015, but in recent years he has faced criticism from some of his celebrity amateur partners, most notably Amanda Abbington with whom he was paired in 2023.

It has now been reported that Giovanni is not in the lineup for the new season of Strictly, coming later this year, with The Sun reporting: "Gio feels the scrutiny on him has become too much, and now is the time to make a fresh start. He wants to focus on other TV projects, and feels he’s achieved all he can on Strictly, having won the trophy back in 2021 and reaching the final an unprecedented four times."

Giovanni Pernice and Amanda Abbington
Giovanni Pernice with former dance partner Amanda Abbington -Credit:BBC

They added: "He remains adamant he’s done nothing wrong other than being a hard taskmaster, but knows his style of training isn’t to everyone’s liking — especially in this day and age. He has a lot of other exciting projects in the pipeline right now, and he’s just super-excited to get cracking on them. This, now, is his priority."

The BBC have since released a statement to OK! that says: "The professional dancers for 2024 will be announced in due course."

While 33 year old Giovanni has won praise for his dance performances on Strictly – and took the glitter ball trophy home in 2021 with celebrity partner Rose Ayling-Ellis – and is also a respected teacher as well as competitor, he has received criticism for his methods, with partners claiming he pushes them to “breaking point.”

Here are all of Giovanni’s Strictly partners, and what they have said about the star:

Georgia May Foote - 2015

Georgia May Foote and Giovanni Pernice
Georgia May Foote entered into a relationship with Giovanni Pernice following her stint on Strictly -Credit:BBC/Guy Levy

Giovanni’s first partner on the series was ex-Coronation Street star Georgia May Foote, and the chemistry between the pair was quickly noticed by the viewing audience. At the time, Georgia was dating her Corrie co-star Sean Ward, but their relationship hit a rough patch in December of 2015 and a few weeks later she and Giovanni were seen kissing during a trip to Disneyland Paris.

The pair, who were runners-up in the competition, moved in together after the show ended, and Georgia said it was “the best thing that had ever happened to her.” However, she did admit that she would be jealous of whoever Giovanni would be partnered with in the next season of the dance show.

She said: "Of course I'll get jealous. Whoever Giovanni gets is a very lucky girl. He's a great teacher. She added that she was "happy for him", but their relationship soon came to an end.

Georgia May Foote and Giovanni Pernice
Georgia and Giovanni dated after they were paired on Strictly -Credit:Instagram

They split when Gio started dancing with Laura Whitmore. Friends said it came as a shock to Georgia because they had only recently been talking about getting more serious. "It was a huge shock for Georgia. They'd been talking about moving things forward and marriage, so for him to dump her doesn't make sense," a friend told OK!.

Georgia took control of the story, sharing her own words with fans in late August that year.

"It is with great sadness we have decided to split up," she said, one year after they first met. "There is nobody else involved. Although it was not an easy decision to make, sometimes you realise that it is better to be friends and this is one of those times. We both have very busy work schedules for the rest of the year so we are both going to focus on our upcoming work projects and we wish each other well for the future."

Laura Whitmore - 2016

Laura Whitmore and Giovanni Pernice
Laura Whitmore and Giovanni Pernice on Strictly -Credit:BBC

Giovanni’s next dance partner was former Love Island host Laura Whitmore, who was a friend of Georgia’s. That can’t have made things easy, and by the time Laura and Giovanni left the show in week 7, it was reported that they were barely speaking to each other.

"The atmosphere between Laura and Gio was never that great, but it's now turned toxic," a source told the Sun after the duo left the show. "They clashed during rehearsals as Laura got increasingly agitated with Gio's tone.”

"They pulled it together for the live shows but behind the scenes, it was a different story. There's certainly no love lost between them and it's doubtful they'll remain in contact when the series is wrapped up later this month."

Giovanni was also said to be annoyed because Laura didn't want to make fun videos to help get votes. "Gio got frustrated with Laura over-analysing everything and not playing the PR game," another insider revealed to the Sun.

Laura Whitmore and Giovanni Pernice
Laura said she felt "extremely uncomfortable" dancing with Giovanni -Credit:BBC

Laura later wrote about her experience on the show for the Huffington Post: "I love dancing, I topped the leaderboard twice but I was thrown into the middle of a break-up that had nothing to do with me. Once again, I was a 'rumoured love interest'," she explained.

"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."

In 2002, she spoke about her time on the show and criticised BBC bosses for making her spend so much time with Giovanni outside of rehearsals. On the Private Parts podcast she explained they spent 12 hours a day together and also had to attend red carpet events as a pair.

"What I didn't like was being removed from everybody and having to spend 12 hours a day with this one person," she stated. "It did not become about the dancing. I just wanted to dance. I did not want to play the game of doing red carpets with your dance partner and stuff like that, which a lot of people thought you should be doing. I did not want to do that."

Debbie McGee - 2017

Debbie McGee and Giovanni Pernice
Debbie McGee has voiced her support for Strictly partner Giovanni Pernice -Credit:Christopher Furlong/Getty Images

The 65 year old radio and stage performer competed in the competition with Giovanni in 2017. They reached the final with Gemma Atkinson and Alexandra Burke but lost to Holby City actor Joe McFadden and pro dancer Katya Jones.

Debbie, who worked closely with Giovanni on Strictly, shared that "everyone supported each other". She recently said: "All my memories of Strictly behind-the-scenes are happy ones. I adored every single minute and every single person I was working with."

Speaking to the Express , she added: "I never felt an ounce of competitiveness. Everyone supported each other - Pros and Celebrities."

Faye Tozer - 2018

Faye Tozer and GIovanni Pernice on the Strictly tour in 2019
Faye Tozer and Giovanni Pernice in 2019 -Credit:Brett D. Cove / SplashNews.com

Steps singer Faye Tozer was paired with Giovanni, following his successful run to the final with Debbie McGee the previous year. Despite rumours towards the end of the 16th series that they were "ranting behind each other's back", their working relationship remained strong.

An insider told the Sun: "Faye and Giovanni have been struggling with the pressure and have both been ranting behind each other's back," but this was quickly dismissed by a BBC representative. The source also claimed that Faye was "feeling quite emotional" after "relentless training".

In December, Faye tweeted asking for fans' advice on dealing with fatigue. She wrote: "Wow... this week is super, proper, crazy, hard."

She continued: "I am exhausted! Any top tips for fatigue and focus? ? ? I am all ears! ! ! xxx @bbcstrictly #semifinalsweek." Despite the challenges, the pair made it to the final, narrowly missing out on the trophy to Stacey Dooley and Kevin Clifton.

Michelle Visage - 2019

Michelle Visage clashed with Giovanni Pernice
Michelle Visage and Giovanni Pernice -Credit:BBC

In 2019, Giovanni danced with Michelle Visage from Drag Race UK. There were talks that their practice sessions were tough because they didn't get along at first.

"Michelle has become quite unhappy at times. She has a fiery relationship with Giovanni," a source told the Sun in November. "Both are very strong characters and they've both had a lot to say. He's probably not used to a partner being quite so in control and calling the shots."

Michelle talked about it too, saying they argued because they're both Italian and Virgos.

Michelle Visage
Michelle Visage and Giovanni Pernice -Credit:BBC/Guy Levy

"We're both Italian. We're both intense. We're both Virgos. So there's a perfectionist level that's really ridiculous between us," she explained. "He wants it quicker than I'm able to provide it. So Mondays and Tuesdays is a lot of us at each other's throats. By the end of the week, we're totally in love with each other again and it's fine.

"I've never walked out. We just like to fight. We like to fight it out, but it's just that's all in love. Our relationship is very fiery. It is weird, but it's perfect."

"The articles about my partner and I have been upsetting," Michelle later clarified on Instagram before they danced in Blackpool and then left the show. "If anyone knows us, you would know how close Giovanni and I are. Gio is my best friend in this competition, he is my rock and I trust him with everything. We have the most fun and laughs together and to suggest otherwise is just sad."

Ranvir Singh - 2020

Giovanni Pernice and Ranvir Singh
Giovanni Pernice and Ranvir Singh on Strictly -Credit:Guy Levy/BBC/PA Wire

Good Morning Britain's Ranvir Singh danced with Gio in 2020, during the Covid pandemic. They had to stay in a bubble which meant one of them had to live alone to keep everyone safe.

Even though it was tough with social distancing and a shorter show, the 2020 Strictly series got everyone talking. People wondered if Ranvir and Gio were more than dance partners because they looked so good together when they danced.

Giovanni had to clear up rumours about him and his dance partners, telling Entertainment Daily: "Every year there's always a romance rumour with a different partner. I mean, even if you don't have a partner there's a rumour. The thing is you get very close when you dance with another person, but dancing is equal to acting. You have to deliver a performance. Each dance is a different story."

He also said: "No, no, no no no. I'm single, absolutely there's no way [he would date Ranvir]. We are very very good friends. Every time you get close in a Rumba or Argentine tango with your partner they try to make out a story. So if they think that there is a romance, it means we are doing it absolutely right."

But people were confused when Ranvir stopped following him on social media after the show ended, although she did start following him again later.

Rose Ayling-Ellis - 2021

Rose Ayling-Ellis and Giovanni Pernice
Rose Ayling-Ellis with Strictly partner Giovanni Pernice -Credit:Dave J Hogan/Getty Images

In 2021, Giovanni won Strictly with EastEnders actress Rose Ayling-Ellis . She was the first deaf person on the show and became really good friends with Giovanni.

Giovanni really cares about his friend Rose, and he even started learning British Sign Language (BSL) because of her. He said: "I'm learning some BSL (British Sign Language), a journey I started last year after being partnered with Rose, who is now a close friend."

Rose said some lovely things about Giovanni when they won together. She shared: "He came into my world and brought the best out of me. I cannot thank him enough for all the work and effort to make me become the dancer that I am today. Winning the Glitterball is the best gift I could ever give to Giovanni because he really deserves it."

Even though they stopped dancing together a while ago, they are still friends and see each other sometimes. Rose went to see Giovanni in Sicily where she met his sister Angela on his BBC One show with Strictly judge Anton Du Beke.

When Rose spoke to OK! in 2022, she asked: "After what we went through, how could we not stay in touch?"

Richie Anderson - 2022

Richie Anderson and Giovanni Pernice
Richie Anderson with professional partner Giovanni Pernice -Credit:BBC

In 2022, the professional dancer was paired with radio star Richie Anderson , but their partnership was plagued by rumours of a 'feud'. According to sources, Giovanni was frustrated by Richie's approach to rehearsals, saying: "The pair haven't clicked. Richie is so swept up by the whole experience that he is talking 100 words a minute, and it can be hard for Giovanni.

"He has told pals that Richie talks instead of listening during training, and it is frustrating." However, a Strictly source dismissed the rumours, adding: "Talk of them not getting on is nonsense. They are having such a laugh and were thrilled at the reaction on Saturday night."

After a Strictly performance Richie captioned an Instagram post: "A moment I'll never forget and so grateful I got to share it with Giovanni. Thank you Gio for being the most amazing teacher over the past fortnight. Last night was a dream come true moment."

Amanda Abbington - 2023

Amanda Abbington and Giovanni Pernice on Strictly
Amanda and Giovanni Pernice -Credit:BBC

Giovanni's most recent partnership came to an abrupt end in October 2023 when it was announced that actress Amanda Abbington had withdrawn from the competition after just four weeks. Their professional relationship was reportedly strained by rumours of tension and conflict.

Amanda, 52, is said to have been left shaken by Giovanni's "militant and aggressive" training style and wanted to pull out of the competition even before the first live show, according to a source. "Giovanni is a hard taskmaster and takes the competition very, very seriously," they said.

"Amanda was really looking forward to dancing with him, but has found his aggressive training style and attitude pretty difficult to handle. He is quite militant in his approach to training. She's been left very shaken, and has liaised with her team about quitting."

The pair got through the first four weeks, but Amanda pulled out of the week five show due to "medical issues". Less than 48 hours later, it was revealed she had dramatically quit the series, and Amanda later broke her silence to reveal it was due to "personal reasons" - and later said she had been diagnosed with PTSD.

Amanda Abbington and Giovanni Pernice
Amanda and Giovanni were partnered in 2023 -Credit:BBC/Guy Levy

She said at the time: "It is with deepest regret that I had to leave Strictly. I did not come to this decision easily or lightly but for personal reasons I am unable to continue," she wrote on Instagram. "It was an absolute joy working with my fellow contestants, they are a beautiful, hardworking and talented group of people who I love and who I will miss seeing every Friday and Saturday and competing alongside.

"I want to thank the incredible Production team and everyone on Strictly who looked after me and who are so kind and caring. It's a wonderful bunch of people and I'll miss all of them.

"I'm so sad that I am unable to go any further. Thank you to everyone who voted and who sent wonderful messages and inspiring support. You are all amazing. Truly. Thank you. xxx."

Giovanni also shared his feelings on Instagram, sharing a snap with Amanda and writing: "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 @amanda_abbington74 @bbcstrictly."

It's been claimed that Amanda wanted to see all the off-camera moments from her time dancing with Giovanni and has got a top lawyer to help her. She has also reportedly talked to some of Giovanni's past dance partners like Ranvir Singh and Laura Whitmore about their time with him.

Giovanni Pernice
Giovanni chatted on the Lorraine show in March 2024 -Credit:Ken McKay/ITV/REX/Shutterstock

Earlier this month, Giovanni and Anton opened up about Amanda's departure from the show for the first time in an interview with the Mirror. On their podcast, Giovanni confessed: "I am a perfectionist, 100%, but it comes from a perspective of caring. I think all of the professional dancers are in the same place. In every single part of the world, if you're a professional dancer on one of these shows, you have to get these people looking the best they can on Saturday night.

"And if we have good scores at the end, I do look back and say, 'I've done a great job'. But we all care about our partners and we want that for them every single week to look great on a Saturday. There's no specific way that you are, or have to be with your celebrity. You make the most of their strengths so the only thing that's constant is the fact that you have to do a show on Saturday night."