Giovanni Pernice at a screening of Man & Witch
(Dave Benett/Getty Images)

‘Strictly Come Dancing’ Preps Season 22 as Investigation of a Popular Dancer Continues

The British dance competition Strictly Come Dancing has been embroiled in controversy so severe that even the BBC took the unusual step of commenting on the situation, which pertains to misconduct allegations against Giovanni Pernice.

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Strictly Come Dancing is a modern take on the highly popular Come Dancing series, which ran from 1950 to 1998. The updated show pairs celebrities with professional dancers and has them compete in a dance competition. The format of Strictly Come Dancing was so successful that it was quickly exported worldwide under the franchise Dancing With the Stars.

Among the professional dancers on Strictly Come Dancing is Pernice, who specializes in Latin-style dancing and has earned many recognitions during his career, including the Italian Open Latin Dance Champion title in 2012. He made his Strictly Come Dancing debut in season 13 and has returned for every season since then. In the most recent season, he was paired with Sherlock star Amanda Abbington. The pairing was controversial from the onset, given Abbington’s history of transphobic comments. However, things took an unexpected turn when Abbington dropped out of the competition after week five. Soon, reports arose that she and several other contestants had filed misconduct complaints against Pernice.

The allegations against Giovanni Pernice

By week one of the Strictly Come Dancing season 21, rumors had already begun swirling that Pernice and Abbington had a falling out. Rumors also speculated that she was the source of conflict, with BBC bosses allegedly labeling her a “troublemaker.” Abbington merely cited personal reasons for her early departure from the show. Several months later, though, reports arose alleging that she was seeking legal action against Pernice and had requested video footage from her training sessions with him, believing the footage would reveal his misconduct.

Although she did not directly address the report, she soon confirmed that she had a negative experience on the show, which led to death threats from viewers disgruntled by her early exit and her diagnosis of mild PTSD. Soon, Abbington and two additional former contestants lodged formal complaints against Pernice. The three women are represented by the law firm Carter Ruck. According to the files, Pernice’s behavior and methods left the women traumatized and included allegations that he forced them through training regimens so “brutal” that they were left “black and blue” afterward. The complaints prompted an investigation from BBC, which is ongoing.

For his part, Pernice has adamantly denied the allegations via a statement posted to Instagram. He rejected “any suggestion of abusive or threatening behavior” and described himself as a “passionate and competitive dancer.” Pernice touched on his perfectionist attitude but claimed that pushing his partners to be “the very best dancers” came from a “place of love.” Reports have also speculated he may have quit Strictly Come Dancing following the allegations.

As the controversy continued to garner interest, BBC made the rare move of issuing an official statement on the matter. Given the high-profile nature of the scandal, the network seemingly felt compelled to speak out and urged people “not to indulge in speculation” and to respect the “confidentiality” of those involved in the complaint. It also assured the public it was taking “necessary steps” to learn the truth and take appropriate action. BBC concluded by promising to address the issue with “fairness and sensitivity” and noted it would no longer be commenting publicly on the case.

Recently, Abbington leveled several more accusations against Pernice. She disputed his allegation that he had requested their rehearsals be recorded because of her concerning behavior, saying she requested the recording because “Giovanni is nasty.” According to Abbington, there was a group of contestants to whom he was “awful.” She also commented again on experiencing harassment and death threats from Pernice’s supporters online.

Although the investigation is ongoing, Strictly Come Dancing is moving ahead with season 22 and has reportedly begun signing on its 2024 contestants. With the new season due in September, the show will be under quite a bit of pressure to provide answers to viewers over the misconduct allegations against one of its most prominent professional dancers.


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Rachel Ulatowski is a Staff Writer for The Mary Sue, who frequently covers DC, Marvel, Star Wars, literature, and celebrity news. She has over three years of experience in the digital media and entertainment industry, and her works can also be found on Screen Rant, JustWatch, and Tell-Tale TV. She enjoys running, reading, snarking on YouTube personalities, and working on her future novel when she's not writing professionally. You can find more of her writing on Twitter at @RachelUlatowski.