Debbie McGee hits back at Strictly 'tension' and backs Giovanni Pernice after ex-partners meet to discuss ‘difficult experiences’

24 March 2024, 23:08 | Updated: 24 March 2024, 23:12

Debbie McGee hits back at Strictly 'tension' and backs Giovanni Pernice after ex-partners meet to discuss ‘difficult experiences’ with him
Debbie McGee hits back at Strictly 'tension' and backs Giovanni Pernice after ex-partners meet to discuss ‘difficult experiences’ with him. Picture: Alamy

By Christian Oliver

Debbie McGee has hit back at claims there was 'tension' on the Strictly set as she backed he ex-partner Giovanni Pernice, saying her memories of dancing with him were 'happy ones'.

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Pernice and the ballroom show have faced a fresh crisis after it was reported three of his previous dance partners met to discuss their 'difficult experiences with him'.

The Strictly dancer, 33, had been paired with Sherlock actress Amanda Abbington, 52, last year before she quit five weeks later for ‘personal reasons’.

She later went on to claim she had been ‘suffering from PTSD’ following her time on the show.

But 65-year-old radio and stage performer McGee, who competed on the show with Pernice in 2017, has now spoken out in support of her former dance partner.

Debbie McGee with Giovanni Pernice
Debbie McGee with Giovanni Pernice. Picture: Alamy
Three of Giovanni's past dance partners 'met to discuss their experiences with him'.
Three of Giovanni's past dance partners 'met to discuss their experiences with him'. Picture: Alamy

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McGee reached the final of the competition with Pernice, where she competed against Gemma Atkinson and Alexandra Burke for the glitterball trophy. Holby City actor Joe McFadden, however, pipped the three women to take the crown.

"I never felt an ounce of competitiveness. Everyone supported each other - Pros and Celebrities," McGee told The Express.

Speaking about Pernice, McGee said: "Giovanni was amazing, for such a young man he was so kind and thoughtful.

She also credited Pernice with helping her while she wasgrieving her late husband Paul Daniels.

"He pushed me beyond what I thought I was capable of and we laughed so much, it was the first time since Paul had died that I laughed and giggled from my soul."

It comes after it was reported three of Pernice's former celebrity partners on the show allegedly met to discuss their ‘difficult experiences’ working with him.

Abbington reportedly had an "emotional summit" with Ranvir Singh and Laura Whitmore where they "compared notes" about their time training with the Italian dancer.

Sources claimed the trio "shed tears" and also discussed the possibility of "formally" complaining to the BBC about his behaviour.

An insider told The Sun: “There is every possibility all three could take it further and formally complain to the BBC, but for now they're comforting each other.

“Only a handful of people will understand what it's like to be trained by Giovanni and in the industry he is regarded as a ''perfectionist’.”

Amanda Abbington is reportedly lining up a top lawyer to retrieve the rehearsal tapes.
Amanda Abbington is reportedly lining up a top lawyer to retrieve the rehearsal tapes. Picture: Alamy
Amanda said she was leaving the show for 'personal reasons'.
Amanda said she was leaving the show for 'personal reasons'. Picture: Getty

It comes after Pernice broke his silence on Abbington exit last year, as told The Mirror: “It’s a shame because, in my opinion, she could have gone all the way.”

He told the outlet: “I am a perfectionist, 100%, but it comes from a perspective of caring. I think all of the professional dancers are in the same place.

“In every single part of the world, if you’re a professional dancer on one of these shows, you have to get these people looking the best they can on Saturday night.

“And if we have good scores at the end, I do look back and say, ‘I’ve done a great job’. But we all care about our partners and we want that for them every single week – to look great on a Saturday.”

Meanwhile, another source told The Sun that Abbington has reportedly lined up top lawyer Persephone Bridgman Baker to demand rehearsal footage from her time on the show.

“Amanda is lining up a well-known lawyer to help her gain access to the rehearsal tapes of her and Pernice with the aim of reviewing them,” they said.

A source close to Pernice told the publication: “Gio finds some of these allegations deeply unfair and offensive. He believes he's done nothing wrong, and simply wants to get the best out of his partners.”

Pernice's former Strictly partner Ranvir previously complained about the dancer to the BBC during her time on the show, while Laura said she “cried every day”.

A BBC spokesperson previously addressed reports, telling The Express: "The BBC offers a comprehensive range of support to all individuals taking part in our shows.

"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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