Sat. Apr 20th, 2024
alert-–-why-giovanni-pernice-will-return-to-strictly-come-dancing:-under-fire-pro-‘has-been-offered-a-contract’-and-the-bbc-‘are-backing-him-all-the-way’,-reveals-katie-hindAlert – Why Giovanni Pernice WILL return to Strictly Come Dancing: Under-fire pro ‘has been offered a contract’ and the BBC ‘are backing him all the way’, reveals KATIE HIND

It was a visibly relieved Giovanni Pernice who left a meeting in central London last week.

For, as the Mail can exclusively reveal, the Italian dancer – one of Strictly’s best-loved professionals – had just been assured by his bosses at the BBC that he would be making a return to the ballroom later this year.

At any other point in the past eight years, it would have been taken as a given that the Beeb would want him back.

After all, his Charleston swivels and Jive flicks – not to mention his dark and brooding good looks – have made him Strictly’s most popular pro dancer.

But this time round, the decision was no rubber-stamping exercise. For Giovanni, 33, has endured what one friend describes as a ‘torrid’ five months during which he was subjected to a string of attacks.

Giovanni Pernice, 33, has endured what one friend describes as a 'torrid' five months during which he was subjected to a string of attacks

Giovanni Pernice, 33, has endured what one friend describes as a ‘torrid’ five months during which he was subjected to a string of attacks

The allegations, attributed to sources close to his most recent dance partner Amanda Abbington, made out he was ‘abrasive’ with his partners and had reduced some to tears.

While Strictly insiders agree that Giovanni pushes his partners hard to give them the best possible chance of winning the glitter ball, they insist he is no bully.

And that’s why, despite accusations from Amanda and three of his previous partners, Giovanni was ‘offered a contract’ at the meeting and readily accepted.

‘He is thrilled,’ says one insider on the BBC One show. ‘While there are dots on i’s and crosses on t’s still to be written in, it all looks to be happening for him. As it’s the 20th anniversary, it’s a big year for the show and everyone involved wants Giovanni to be part of it.

‘It has been a really difficult few months for him. To have been hit with such claims – but not having anything he can respond to – has been really, really tough.’

Both the BBC and Team Giovanni say there have been no official complaints made about his behaviour

In fact, one source described the claims as a ‘nasty witch hunt’, which could not just have ended his Strictly TV career but endangered his place on the international ballroom dancing circuit generally.

It all began in January when the Sun reported that former Sherlock star Amanda, 52, had asked the BBC for CCTV footage of the pair rehearsing. She claimed to have suffered ‘post traumatic stress disorder’ as a result of appearing on the programme and was considering legal action.

His most recent dance partner, Amanda Abbington, made out Giovanni was 'abrasive' with his partners and had reduced some to tears

His most recent dance partner, Amanda Abbington, made out Giovanni was ‘abrasive’ with his partners and had reduced some to tears

Three weeks ago, the row erupted once again after the Sun reported that Amanda had met Good Morning Britain's Ranvir Singh (pictured with Giovanni)

Three weeks ago, the row erupted once again after the Sun reported that Amanda had met Good Morning Britain’s Ranvir Singh (pictured with Giovanni)

Both Giovanni and Strictly bosses believe the story was leaked by friends of Amanda, who has never made any comments on the record about the matter. In fact, despite numerous stories that she and Giovanni did not get on during the series – at the time, she insisted they were the best of friends.

Three weeks ago, the row erupted once again after the Sun reported that Amanda had met Good Morning Britain’s Ranvir Singh and television presenter Laura Whitmore – who were both former Strictly partners of Giovanni – to discuss their own ‘difficult’ experiences working with him.

This led to ‘tears being shed’, according to sources close to Abbington, who shared details of the meeting.

Despite Giovanni’s friends rebuffing the story as ‘three women meeting up for a coffee and a moan’, once again, the dancer was left ‘upset’ at the reports.

And earlier this week, it was reported that Giovanni’s 2018 partner, former member of the 1990s band Steps, Faye Tozer, struggled to work with him and broke down in tears following an appearance together on spin-off show, It Takes Two.

Faye, who made it to the final with Giovanni, ignored any opportunity to speak on the matter when she was approached, while those working on the show at the time say that her tears were in fact over a ‘personal issue away from the show’.

The lack of evidence, and the fact that Amanda told bosses she was leaving Strictly before the end of the series last year for a different medical reason, left them with nothing to formally investigate.

Television presenter Laura Whitmore was also a former Strictly partner of Giovanni and described having a 'difficult' experience working with him

Television presenter Laura Whitmore was also a former Strictly partner of Giovanni and described having a ‘difficult’ experience working with him

However former partners have also come out to back him, including Debbie McGee, the widow of the magician Paul Daniels, who was paired with him in 2017

However former partners have also come out to back him, including Debbie McGee, the widow of the magician Paul Daniels, who was paired with him in 2017

‘The BBC are backing him all of the way,’ says an insider at the broadcaster. ‘There have been no complaints about Giovanni’s behaviour, nobody has actually come forward and said, ‘He did this to me’ or ‘He did that to me’.

‘Nothing has come to light from any of these people and it feels very unfair to judge someone and potentially dump someone from their job because of what is written in the red tops.’

That said, I’m told that there are some at the BBC who are said they do ‘regret’ pairing Giovanni with Amanda and, with hindsight, reckon they should have put him together with the more determined Angela Scanlon, the Irish television presenter, and put her pro partner, Carlos Gu, with Amanda.

Giovanni, say those in the know, has also had the full support of his Strictly colleagues. Judge Anton du Beke, who stars alongside him in a BBC travel show Anton & Giovanni’s Adventures In Spain, is said to have been a ‘rock’ to him in recent months.

Former partners have also come out to back him, including Debbie McGee, the widow of the magician Paul Daniels, who was paired with him in 2017.

READ MORE: KATIE HIND: Is Louis Walsh the most toxic and bitter man on TV?

Shortly after Amanda’s allegations, Debbie shared a beaming throwback picture of her and Giovanni taken backstage during their stint together. ‘Happy memories, Giovanni and I had the best of times on Strictly,’ ran the caption.

Indeed, Giovanni even dated one of his partners, Georgia May Foote, after they made the final together in his debut series back in 2015.

And he is a viewers’ favourite too. Not only is his tour, Let Me Entertain You, sold out across Britain but he won over millions of Strictly fans when he topped the 2021 series with deaf actress Rose Ayling Ellis. Their silent dance to Clean Bandit’s Symphony won the Must-See Moment at the 2022 Bafta television awards.

‘Giovanni’s legacy lives on from what he did with Rose,’ says a BBC insider. ‘He was solely responsible for winning a Bafta and the BBC will not forget that. He made such a positive impact with Rose and it is a terrible shame that unsubstantiated slurs threated that.

‘Now everyone at Strictly is ready to welcome him back with open arms.’

And, let’s hope this time they take care to pair him with the right partner.