Former Strictly winner Rose Ayling-Ellis ‘distances’ herself from embattled dancer Giovanni Pernice

Giovanni Pernice’s former Strictly Come Dancing partner Rose Ayling-Ellis has reportedly distanced herself from the Italian dancer, amid allegations he was “abusive” on set.

Rose Ayling-Ellis was partnered with Giovanni Pernice in 2021, and the pair danced their way to victory on the hit celebrity dancing competition. Ayling-Ellis became the first deaf contestant to win the Glitterball trophy.

However, despite the fact Giovanni Pernice has strongly denied claims that his dance teaching methods were in any way “abusive” or “threatening”, The Sun claim that Ayling-Ellis has “distanced herself” from Gio.

A source reportedly said: “Rose is finding the whole situation really tough. She had a really great experience with Gio so is really shocked by it all.

“She of course believes what others are saying but she is just trying to not get involved. She won’t be speaking about it publicly.” The Sun also report that she failed to respond to a request for an official comment.

Another former contestant, Stacey Dooley, has also briefly spoken about the allegations – although she wasn’t one of Giovanni Pernice’s partners. She was matched with dancer Kevin Clifton, who she went on to marry.

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On Monday (20 May), BBC Breakfast presenter Jon Kay asked Stacey Dooley: “While you’re here, before we get to the news, I have to talk to you about Strictly. Giovanni made a statement over the weekend saying he rejects any suggestion of any threatening or abusive behaviour, and you don’t want to talk about that case and those allegations, but I guess it shines a spotlight on the intensity of that Strictly world.”

Stacey Dooley responded: ““What I would say, more broadly, is I hope all of the women involved are ok. And I think, actually, it’s separate from this but in my personal experience, I think it’s a slippery slope not to believe women when they come forward and say certain things. But I just hope they’re ok.”

Who are Giovanni Pernice’s former Strictly partners and what have they said?

Michelle Visage and her Strictly Come Dancing partner Giovanni Pernice. (BBC)
Michelle Visage and her Strictly Come Dancing partner Giovanni Pernice. (BBC)

Giovanni Pernice has appeared on the long-running BBC show since 2015, and has been paired up with multiple partners, some of whom have spoken out about their experiences. In order, these are:

Series 13: Georgia May Foote

Giovanni Pernice and Georgia May Foote were runners-up in 2015, coming second. Georgia May Foote is a British actress and model arguably best known for playing Alison Simmons in the BBC school drama series Grange Hill from 2005 to 2008 and also Katy Armstrong in Coronation Street from 2010 to 2015.

Series 14: Laura Whitmore

In Series 14, Giovanni Pernice was paired up with Laura Whitmore. The Irish media personality and model later shared that she felt ‘extremely uncomfortable’ with Giovanni, 33, and ‘cried every day’ during their time together.

Series 15: Debbie McGee

Older readers might remember Debbie McGee as the wife of the late magician Paul Daniels. She was Giovanni’s partner in Series 5, and like Georgia May Foote she and her partner ended up in second place. She has previously defended Giovanni and in January she fondly recalled ‘happy memories’ with the Italian dancer.

Series 16: Faye Tozer

Faye Tozer is a member of the iconic UK pop group Steps (a favourite amongst the LGBTQ+ community), and like Debbie McGee and Georgia May Foote also came second in the competition. They lost out to Stacey Dooley and Kevin Clifton. She reportedly “clashed” with Giovanni during her time on the competition.

Series 17: Michelle Visage

Drag Race judge and all-round LGBTQ+ icon Michelle Visage took to the dance floor with Giovanni in 2019, but came seventh overall. We previously reported that she “fought every day” with Giovanni. She was asked on This Morning what it was like to work with him, after Pernice’s alleged rift with his celebrity partner from 2023’s series, Amanda Abbington, who reportedly has been seeking legal advice following her time on the show.

Visage replied: “Uh oh. I don’t like gossip, so I’m not here to gossip, but what I can say from my experience was yes, he’s tough,” Visage confirmed.

Continuing, she added that she responded well to his teaching style, but understood that some others might not: “He’s probably the toughest pro there is. I wanted that. So it depends, some people can handle that, some people don’t want to handle that. I wanted that.”

Series 18: Ranvir Singh

Newsreader Ranvir Singh was the next person to be paired up with Giovanni Pernice. They came fifth, with Ranvir Singh later admitting she had been apprehensive after being paired with him in 2020. “Don’t be fooled by his angelic face! He is a fiery Italian, super strict – I am a bit scared of him,” reported the Mirror.

Series 19: Rose Ayling-Ellis

As reported above, Rose Ayling-Ellis and Giovanni Pernice danced their way to the latter’s first victory on the programme, in 2021.

Series 20: Richie Anderson

The following year, Giovanni was matched with his first same-sex partner, former footballer Richie Anderson. Anderson is gay and has been in a relationship with Dean Eagles since 2012. Unfortunately he and Gio came in 14th place, and were the third couple to be voted off Strictly that year. He then unfollowed Giovanni on Instagram in January 2024, the Sun reports.

Series 21: Amanda Abbington

Last year, Giovanni Pernice was partnered with Sherlock star Abbington but the pair’s appearances were cut short when the latter, who has previously faced controversy over comments concerning drag shows and trans individuals – for which she later apologised – stepped away from the competition for “personal reasons”.

Reports later surfaced that Abbington was seeking legal advice in connection with her time on the show.

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