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Shirley Ballas defends 'absolute gentleman' Giovanni Pernice amid Strictly controversy

The Strictly judge spoke out on Lorraine on Monday

Giovanni Pernice kissing Shirley Ballas on the cheek
Gemma Strong
Online Digital News Director
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Giovanni Pernice has found himself in the spotlight recently amid reports of a feud with his former dance partner, Amanda Abbington

And now Strictly judge Shirley Ballas has come to his defence, publicly showing her support for the pro dancer during an appearance on Lorraine on Monday.

Amanda was partnered with Giovanni in the most recent series of Strictly, but abruptly quit after a few weeks citing "personal reasons" that left her "unable to continue". But just recently, she opened up about her time on the show and revealed she had been diagnosed with PTSD after Strictly

Amanda Abbington and Giovanni Pernice on Strictly© BBC
Amanda and Giovanni were partnered on the last series of Strictly

It has also been reported that the Sherlock actress has requested video recordings of her training sessions with Giovanni as part of her allegedly seeking legal advice.

Shirley was asked about these recent revelations during her appearance on Lorriane and she was full of praise for the Italian dancer. "I've known Giovanni for many years and he is an absolutely splendid teacher," she told her host. 

"My only ever experience with him is he is an absolute gentlemen. He gives 100%. Strictly and shows like that, they are tough shows so you know when you sign up for that kind of thing. It's quite difficult to do the show."

Shirley Ballas in black velvet dress© Mike Marsland
Shirley came to Giovanni's defence

Shirley isn't the only person to publicly defend Giovanni. Another former dance partner, Debbie McGee, shared a photo of the pair and telling wrote: "Happy memories. Giovanni and I had the best of times on Strictly."

Then, last week, Giovanni finally broke his silence on the furore. In an Instagram post promoting new live show Let Me Entertain You, he wrote: "I just wanted to take a moment to thank everyone who has sent messages of support over the last week – I really truly appreciate it – thank you thank you thank you."

Amanda, meanwhile, recently spoke to The Sun on Sunday, and thanked both her fans and fellow Strictly stars for their support. 

Amanda Abbington© Ken McKay/ITV/Shutterstock
Amanda said she has received death threats since leaving Strictly

She explained: "I was diagnosed with mild PTSD after Strictly for several reasons and I told a few people about that, in the utmost confidence, among other things that were happening in my life at the time both professionally and personally."

Amanda continued: "I'm very sorry that people felt the need to send me death threats, threaten my children and bring up my past, healthy relationship with an ex-partner as an ­indicator of my current mental health. I wish those people well."

Giovanni has been a part of Strictly since 2015, and won legions of fans due to his on-screen camaraderie with EastEnders actor Rose Ayling-Ellis. The pair won the show in 2021.

Giovanni Pernice and Rose Ayling-Ellis lift Strictly glitterball© BBC
Giovanni Pernice and Rose Ayling-Ellis won Strictly Come Dancing in 2021

In the original report revealing that Amanda had requested her training footage, Giovanni was described as a "perfectionist" who "can be incredibly full-on". 

A spokesperson for the BBC said the corporation 'offers a comprehensive range of support to all individuals taking part in our shows", adding: "Strictly Come Dancing has always taken duty of care incredibly seriously and there is a constant dialogue between senior members of the production team and the contestants to ensure any concerns are addressed swiftly."

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