Strictly star opens up on ‘difficult’ series days after Amanda Abbington quits
25th October 2023
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    Strictly Come Dancing head judge Shirley Ballas has opened up on the "difficult" 2023 series just days after Amanda Abbington quit the BBC show.

    The 49-year-old actress decided to leave the competition after training sessions with professional partner Giovanni Pernice reportedly left her "frazzled and fragile" and insiders close to the star said they "weren't surprised" to learn that the mum-of-two has made the decision to leave the dancefloor behind.

    Shirley appeared on BBC Two spin-off show It Takes Two to chat to host Janette Manrara about the current season of Strictly and offered her expert results to the remaining couples

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    She said: "The class of 2023, the magic is always in the mix and the BBC definitely got the mix right this year didn't they? It's a very, very difficult series. Everybody is putting their best foot forward and everybody looks great."

    According to the sources, Amanda "didn't know what she'd let herself in for" before going ahead with her participation. Things were not helped when she "didn't gel" with pro Giovanni. The actress did not mention Giovanni in her exit statement breaking her silence on quitting the show on Instagram on Tuesday morning (October 24). Instead of thanking the Italian stallion, Amanda gave credit to the staff behind the scenes of the hit programme that has been running since 2004.

    In the statement, the Strictly star gave her kudos to "everyone on Strictly who looked after me and who are so kind and caring". Giovanni did not respond to the statement, but fellow professional Gorka Márquez showed his love for Amanda, commenting: "We will miss you!". Pro dancer Jowita Przystal also gave her sympathies, typing: "Take care darling we will miss you! Sending lots of love."

    A feud between Amanda and Giovanni has been hinted to, according to insiders on the show. The source told The Telegraph of the couple: "From the very beginning they weren't gelling. Obviously they were putting a brave face on it, but the issue was clearly not being solved."

    The source described Giovanni's training as "tough", which Amanda had found difficult to adjust to. Things were worsened if she would turn up to training feeling ill or stressed, as it would make the sessions harder for her.

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    Giovanni has been a mainstay on the Strictly cast since 2015. Paired with the likes of Laura Whitmore and Michelle Visage, Pernice came out on top in 2021, lifting the glitterball trophy together with celebrity partner Rose Ayling-Ellis. Giving his own take on the situation on Instagram, he offered his sympathies to Amanda. Uploading a snap of the duo behind the scenes during Movie Week, he captioned the post: "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."

    Strictly Come Dancing: It Takes Two airs weeknights on BBC Two at 6.30pm

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