Strictly's Shirley Ballas doubles down on support for 'good friend' Giovanni Pernice amid BBC probe

Shirley Ballas
-Credit: (Image: Getty Images)

Strictly Come Dancing's head judge Shirley Ballas has thrown her support behind Giovanni Pernice amidst the ongoing BBC investigation.

Speaking to reporters on Saturday, July 6, Shirley shared her thoughts: "I've known Giovanni for 10 years, and he's a good friend of mine. But I'm not involved on any side of that [the investigation]."

"I think before I speak, and I stay in my lane, which is ballroom dancing. I think everybody goes into Strictly with the best will in the world to entertain the country."

When asked about her fellow Strictly stars, she explained that she couldn't speak for the professionals' mindset while coaching celebrities, noting that they are "doing their thing" and highlighting the competitive nature of the industry.

Giovanni Pernice
Giovanni Pernice is currently under investigation by the BBC -Credit:Dave J Hogan/Getty Images

"You don't want to kill their enthusiasm or the thought that they can be the Glitterball champion. So, I think sometimes, words can be cruel and people deliver them in not a great way. I learned the difference."

Shirley also discussed her approach to judging on the show: "I can be super-strict when somebody is trying to win the gold medal, then I can still be quite strict but in a positive way on Strictly so they will learn something. That's always ongoing for me. I'm always searching for the best way I can bring great constructive criticism."

Shirley, always ready to vouch for Giovanni, has extended an invite to the dancer for her annual summer party. "He's going to pop along to the party, I have no idea if he will come back to the show [if the investigation finds in his favour]".

Ensuring she stays out of the fray, she told The Sun: "I don't get involved in the process. That's outside my lane. Hopefully, things will get resolved and sorted. And then, you know... we'll see."

The esteemed Strictly chief judge didn't hold back when talking to the Mirror at the TRIC Awards following reports that Giovanni wasn't returning to the hit BBC programme. She's recently thrown her support behind the Italian dance maestro, calling him "a hard worker."

She commented: "I know he is a hard worker. 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."

Loyal as ever, Shirley remarked: "So my feeling for Giovanni is, let them do this investigation or whatever it is they are doing and the truth will come out. So 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. I have never ever, ever experienced any ill will or bad feeling or bad sportsmanship or rudeness from him. He will be missed."