The BBC has issued a statement after reports that former Strictly Come Dancing contestant Amanda Abbington, 51, is allegedly seeking legal advice following her time on the series, in which she danced with professional partner Giovanni Pierce, 33.
Sherlock star Abbington’s five-week run on the hit BBC reality series ended in her choosing to leave the show due to “personal reasons”, as she explained in an Instagram post in October. She later revealed that she had been diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
Abbington did not return for the Strictly Come Dancing final last month, unlike fellow contestant Nigel Harman, who also dropped out due to an injury. This led viewers to suspect there was something deeper behind her departure, and now we may have the reason why.
On Saturday (6 January) The Sun reported that Abbington is allegedly seeking legal advice following her experience on Strictly.
The BBC’s decision to include Abbington in the 2023 lineup was criticised by many in the LGBTQ+ community due to her controversial past comments regarding the trans and drag community.
Amanda Abbington. (Getty)
In 2020, Abbington had commented on anti-trans activist Graham Linehan’s Facebook post that she was “hounded off Twitter” after being accused of being a “TERF (trans-exclusionary radical feminist)”. In a separate social media post she also raised concerns over exposing children to “over-sexualised” drag shows.
In a lengthy Instagram video in August 2023, Abbington denied claims that she was transphobic, adding that she supported “legitimate trans people” and “loves” drag.
What happened between Amanda Abbington and Giovanni Pernice?
According to The Sun’s report, Amanda Abbington has requested access to BBC footage of her rehearsals with Giovanni Pernice on Strictly.
A source close to the production told The Sun that “there is a feeling that the recordings will lift the lid on what really goes on behind the scenes on Strictly“, adding that Pernice can be “incredibly full-on”.
Another source who is close to the Mr Selfridge actor added that the star had been been left “broken and saddened” by the experience, leading her to therapy to get over the “shock”.
“Everyone else was having a fabulous time, but she was really stressed by having to spend eight hours a day with Giovanni. She spent a lot of time crying and couldn’t sleep or eat properly,” they added.
PinkNews has reached out for Giovanni Pernice and Amanda Abbington’s representatives for a comment.
Amanda Abbington and Giovanni Pernice performing together on Strictly. (BBC)
What has the BBC said in response?
The BBC shared an official statement on Monday (8 January) after receiving a data subject request for the footage, according to reports.
“The BBC offers a comprehensive range of support to all individuals taking part in our shows,” the spokesperson said, according to The Mirror.
“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.”
“Strictly has a proud track record as a joyful, positive experience where robust support and assistance is always made available at every stage of the production.”
Giovanni Pernice’s former partner Laura Whitmore previously said Strictly left her ‘broken’
In 2021, Giovanni Pernice has appeared on Strictly Come Dancing since 2015, winning the series with partner Rose Ayling-Ellis in 2021 and joining a same-sex partnership with Richie Anderson in 2022.
Rumours about clashes between Abbington and Pernice began circulating shortly after rehearsals for Strictly began last year, but both stars publicly paid tribute to each other at the time. After the first Strictly live show, Pernice took to social media to say he was “extremely proud” of Amanda and couldn’t “wait for people to watch we have created”.
Abbington also shared a positive Instagram story post from rehearsals, writing: “The smile you give your pro partner at the end of the camera rehearsal when you know you are in safe and hugely talented hands.”
In October, Pernice said in an interview with Virgin Radio that he was “very, very strict” with Abbington, although Abbington added that he was “everything you want a teacher to be.”
Pernice addressed Abbington’s decision to withdraw from the ballroom dance competition in a statement on social media following her departure, writing on Instagram: “Amanda … I am so sad we can’t continue but I am proud of what we achieved and I am sending you so much love.”
In 2018, former Love Island host Laura Whitmore recounted she was “broken” by her experience on Strictly two years earlier, in which she also danced with Pernice.
“I was placed with a dance partner I was extremely uncomfortable with – and in the end I felt broken. I cried every day. And I really was broken, both mentally and physically, by the end,” the presenter wrote in a damning piece for Huffington Post.
However, another former parter of Pernice’s, Debbie McGee, appeared to back the Strictly pro soon after the recent report about Abbington was published this week.
The entertainment shared a picture of herself with Pernice on Instagram with the caption: “Happy memories. Giovanni and I had the best of times on Strictly,” to which Pernice replied: “Love you…. Thank you”.