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Giovanni Pernice's Strictly dance partners, Richie Anderson, Amanda Abbington, Rose Ayling-Ellis split image © BBC

Inside all of Giovanni Pernice's former Strictly partnerships: From rumoured fallouts to romances

The Italian dancer has reportedly quit the show after nearly a decade

Nicky Morris
TV and film writer
May 21, 2024
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Strictly Come Dancing star Giovanni Pernice has been making headlines in recent days after being hit with allegations of misconduct, which he denied in a social media statement. It comes amid reports that the Italian dancer has quit the show after almost a decade. 

Since joining the BBC dance competition in 2015, Giovanni, 33, has enjoyed partnerships with a range of celebrity contestants. Here at HELLO!, we take a deep dive into his pairings from over the years, including his professional-turned-romantic relationship with Georgia May Foote, and his rumoured fallout with Amanda Abbington


Giovanni Pernice and Georgia May Foote at an ITV red carpet event© Getty

Georgia May Foote

Giovanni made his Strictly debut back in 2015 when he was paired with Coronation Street star Georgia May Foote.

The duo made it all the way to the grand final, where they placed second behind The Wanted singer Jay McGuiness and his partner Aliona Vilani. While Georgia was in a relationship with her Corrie co-star Sean Ward when she joined the BBC show, the couple split in December 2015 and she was later seen kissing Giovanni during a a New Year trip to Disneyland Paris.

Speaking about their romance in 2016, Georgia told the Daily Mail: "Gio is everything to me. I'm 100 per cent happy with Gio. He's smitten and I'm the same. We trust each other. We fell in love as friends before anything happened."

That same year, the couple went their separate ways. In a statement, Georgia said: "It is with great sadness we have decided to split up. 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 these times."


Laura spoke about being unhappy on the show© Dave J Hogan

Laura Whitmore

In 2016, Giovanni was paired with former Love Island host Laura Whitmore. While the pair were favourites to win early on in the competition, reports of their strained relationship later emerged. 

The situation was made worse by Laura's close friendship with Giovanni's ex, Georgia, with the media reporting tensions between the two women – which the presenter denied. 

Laura, who was eliminated in week seven, later said she was "uncomfortable" with her partnership with Giovanni when speaking out about her experience on the show in 2018. 

"I was placed with a dance partner I was extremely uncomfortable with – and in the end I felt broken," she wrote in a blog for Huff Post. "I cried every day. And I really was broken, both mentally and physically, by the end.

"To the outside world I tried to suck it up and smile, and I did that to the best of my ability, but it affected me deeply. My friends and family knew that I was struggling. And they were there for me. The media, however, saw me as blonde bait in a sequinned dress."

Then in 2020, the presenter expanded on her comments during an appearance on the Private Parts podcast. "What I didn't like was being removed from everybody and having to spend 12 hours a day with this one person," she told hosts Jamie Laing and Francis Boulle.

"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 with Giovanni Pernice© Dave J Hogan

Debbie McGee

Giovanni's third celebrity partner, Debbie McGee, has been full of praise for the Italian dancer since her stint in 2017. 

In January this year, following reports that Amanda Abbington was seeking legal advice after quitting the show, the stage performer spoke out in support of Giovanni. Sharing a snap of the pair on social media, she penned: "Happy memories. Giovanni and I had the best of times on Strictly."


faye tozer giovanni argentine tango© Photo: BBC

Faye Tozer

Giovanni and Steps singer Faye Tozer made it all the way to the final in 2018. But despite their success, there were reports that the pair clashed during rehearsals, and on one occasion, the pro dancer reportedly left his partner in tears after an appearance on It Takes Two.

Faye did, however, appear to enjoy her time on the programme and praised Giovanni ahead of the 2018 final, which saw the pair place joint second. "Thank you for all the good luck messages for me & my amazing partner @pernicegiovann1 for tonight's @bbcstrictly final," she penned on social media. "I'm so grateful for the support and you guys giving me the chance to realise my dream.

"We're gonna give tonight everything we've got! SO much love," she added. 


Michelle Visage and Giovanni Pernice cuddle up on the red carpet© Getty

Michelle Visage

In 2019, Giovanni was paired with Drag Race UK judge Michelle Visage. When reports of a feud between the pair began to circulate, Michelle quickly quashed the speculation. 

"The articles about my partner and I have been upsetting," she penned on social media. "Gio is my best friend in this competition, he is my rock and I trust him with everything.

"Anyone [that] knows us, you would know how close Giovanni and I are.

"We have the most fun and laughs together and to suggest otherwise is just sad. At this very moment, we are focusing on Blackpool."

The pair have remained friends since placing seventh on the show, with Michelle supporting Giovanni during his Let Me Entertain You dance tour earlier this year. The TV personality stepped in for Giovanni's co-star Lauren Oakley when she couldn't make his High Wycombe show in March.


ranvir singh and giovanni pernice© Photo: BBC

Ranvir Singh

After being paired with Giovanni back in 2020, Ranvir admitted her apprehension during an episode of Good Morning Britain. "Don't be fooled by his angelic face! He is a fiery Italian, super strict - I am a bit scared of him," she joked.

During their time together, Ranvir and Giovanni sparked rumours of a romance, which Giovanni denied during a chat with Entertainment Daily. "Every year there's always a romance rumour with a different partner," he said. "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 added: "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."

In a confusing development in 2021, it was reported that Ranvir had unfollowed Giovanni on social media, before later re-following him.


Giovanni Pernice and Rose Ayling-Ellis lift Strictly glitterball© BBC

Rose Ayling-Ellis

Giovanni formed a close bond with EastEnders star Rose Ayling-Ellis during the 2021 series, which saw the actress become the first deaf contestant to lift the iconic glitterball trophy.

Rose has been full of kind words for her former dance partner, who adapted his training style to accommodate for her lack of hearing.

After their victory, Rose hailed Giovanni as a good teacher. "Giovanni has been incredible," she told The Guardian. "He really supports every single step – and I mean every single step: even when I'm doing stuff on my own he, off-camera, is giving me timing.

"There are a lot of ups and downs and some dances are harder than others. But Giovanni is such a good teacher, and he's really adapted to the way I learn, rather than making me learn it in his way."


richie anderson giovanni pernice

Richie Anderson

Giovanni was paired with his first male partner when radio DJ Richie Anderson joined the 2022 line-up. 

But just days into the competition, the pair were plagued by feud rumours – which Richie quickly dispelled in an Instagram post. After performing their Cha Cha Cha, Richie penned: "A moment I'll never forget and so grateful I got to share it with Giovanni. Thank you Gio for being the best teacher over the past fortnight," he penned. 

Giovanni also addressed the rumours during an appearance on It Takes Two. "We're definitely having a good time," he said. "Obviously it's a dance competition at the end of the day so we have to learn something. But there is no problem. Where is the camera? There is no problem between us, we are having a good time. So forget about what you are writing, it's not true."


Giovanni Pernice & Amanda Abbington on Strictly Come Dancing © Ray Burniston,BBC

Amanda Abbington

Giovanni's most recent partnership was with Sherlock actress Amanda Abbington. From the very beginning of their pairing, the duo sparked speculation about a rumoured feud, which Amanda denied ahead of their week one performance. 

After her shock departure from the show in October last year, fans were quick to notice that she failed to mention Giovanni in her statement about leaving the show, which she said was due to "personal reasons". 

It was later reported that Amanda was seeking legal advice after her stint on the show and had requested video footage from her training sessions with Giovanni. She also spoke out about being diagnosed with mild PTSD after Strictly. 

Strictly Come Dating: couples who met on the dancefloor

As well as Gemma and Gorka, there are several other loved-up couples who met during their time on Strictly

  • Janette Manrara and Aljaz Škorjanec met on Strictly in 2010, before marrying in 2017 and welcoming a baby, Lyra, in 2023.
  • Rachel Riley and Pasha Kovalev met during the 2013 series. They married in 2019 and have two children together.
  • Dianne Buswell and Joe Sugg fell in love while competing in 2018. They live together in Brighton.
  • Stacey Dooley and Kevin Clifton met in 2018 and welcomed a baby girl, Minnie, in 2023.
  • Max George and Maisie Smith shared their Strictly experience together in 2020, but didn't announce their relationship until 2022.
  • Tyler West and Molly Rainford starred in the 2022 series together and have been going strong ever since!
  • Kai Widdrington and Nadiya Bychkova are both professionals on the show, and began dating in 2022.
  • Kristina Rihanoff and Ben Cohen were partnered together on the show in 2013, confirming their romance in 2014. They share a daughter together, Mila, who was born in 2018.

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