Strictly Come Dancing’s Giovanni sees Anton Du Beke ‘like a big brother’ after filming new BBC Sicily travel series

Less sequins and salsas, more suntans and seaside: Strictly Come Dancing’s Anton Du Beke and Giovanni Pernice are swapping the ballroom for the Italian island of Sicily for their new BBC One series Anton And Giovanni: Adventures In Sicily.

Pernice, 32, is Du Beke’s guide as the duo discover everything Pernice’s beloved Mediterranean home has to offer, from stunning natural sights like Mount Etna, charming old towns, delicious Sicilian cuisine and even a bit of dancing for good measure.

“We did lots of lovely things,” says Du Beke, 56.

“It’s where Giovanni’s from, (he) took me round… You could feel a lovely sense of journey about it, so it felt lovely.

Giovanni Pernice and Anton Du Beke in Sicily. Picture: PA Photo/BBC.Giovanni Pernice and Anton Du Beke in Sicily. Picture: PA Photo/BBC.
Giovanni Pernice and Anton Du Beke in Sicily. Picture: PA Photo/BBC.

“I really, really enjoyed going around the place.”

“You knew quite a lot about it,” he adds to Pernice.

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“Some of the stuff you knew about, the sort of history of it was fascinating, really.”

“I think the most beautiful experience is the fact that we were spending time together,” adds Pernice.

As still from Anton and Giovanni: Adventures in Sicily. Giovanni Pernice and Anton Du Beke during a parade. Picture: PA Photo/BBC.As still from Anton and Giovanni: Adventures in Sicily. Giovanni Pernice and Anton Du Beke during a parade. Picture: PA Photo/BBC.
As still from Anton and Giovanni: Adventures in Sicily. Giovanni Pernice and Anton Du Beke during a parade. Picture: PA Photo/BBC.

“And sometimes we ended up (doing) things that I wouldn’t expect in a million years – to see Anton paddleboarding, for instance.”

Anton And Giovanni: Adventures In Sicily will be a chance for Strictly fans to see their favourites in a new light as they road trip across the beautiful island, from learning about the culture Pernice grew up in to seeing the ballroom stars take part in the wildest of activities.

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“(We did) things that I don’t expect in my head to see Anton doing!” laughs Pernice, who won Strictly in 2021 when he paired with EastEnders star Rose Ayling-Ellis.

“This show is like a rollercoaster. We obviously have fun, we had a lot of activities, we did some dancing, but (it) also goes up and down with emotion. And I think that’s the beauty of it, of the show.”

Pernice and Du Beke say that they had a wonderful time exploring Sicily, diving into the culture and getting to know the locals.

“Let me tell you about the locals,” says Du Beke.

“They are really nice, very friendly, and very kind. We went to a tango festival, and they were all there, ready to help us. I’m not sure what they thought about our tango, but they wanted to give us advice!

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“It was lovely. They were all great. Everyone gets to join in.”

Despite having grown up in Sicily, Pernice says that he also got to experience the island like a tourist, an experience he really loved.

“Let me tell you… I mean, I’m Sicilian and I’m from Palermo, but we went to places that I’d never been before,” he says.

“Like the top of Mount Etna, I’d never been there before!”

“A few things have changed, obviously, because I left home when I was very young – I left home when I was 14. So in 15 years, things change,” he adds.

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“There’s different spots that’s always gonna be there, and always gonna bring up memories.”

Of course, having worked together on Strictly, going on tour and spending weeks together filming the series, Pernice and Du Beke already knew each other well before their Sicilian adventure.

However, Pernice says that this experience has taken their friendship to a whole new level, to a point where rather than feeling just like friends, they “feel like family”.

“Obviously, first of all, the reason why we did the show together is because we’re good friends,” adds the dancer.

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“And also we tour together, so we get to spend a lot of time together as well when we are on tour. So our relationship was already in a good place.

“But after doing the show and after touring again last year, I think it feels more like family now, really.

“I see him like a big brother, you know, I can go and talk to him about everything. He’s a big brother.

“It’s a very deep friendship.”

“It’s lovely,” adds Du Beke, who has appeared on every series of Strictly.

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“It’s funny, because you know a lot of people in the business, certainly in this industry, the business we call show, you spend a lot of time with people. And it’s always sort of short and intense, and then you leave. And then you might see ’em again, you might not see ’em again.

“What’s lovely about our relationship is it’s a continuing thing. And it’s a lovely, lovely friendship, which I treasure greatly, because I think he’s super anyway, I think he’s a lovely boy. We’re cut from the same cloth, which is nice.

“But doing things like this is special, because you’re doing it with somebody you genuinely really, really like, and love.

“The lovely thing about this was that we’re going back to Sicily, where Giovanni comes from, and meeting his family and his sister, and her husband and their baby, and where he came from.”

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After such an incredible adventure, can the pair pick their favourite moments?

“Taormina’s a lovely town,” offers Du Beke, reminiscing about the hilltop town near Mount Etna on the east coast of Sicily.

“It’s also got some stunning views as you go up and look out…”

Mount Etna is the highest Mediterranean island mountain and the most active stratovolcano in the world, according to Unesco.

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“Well, for me, obviously I’m from Palermo, so I have to say Palermo was beautiful,” says Pernice.

“But it’s just beautiful. The atmosphere is beautiful. The weather’s beautiful. The food is beautiful.

"The people are fantastic. People that come from Sicily are outstanding.

“It’s a beautiful place to be. And I think you should go and visit.”

Anton And Giovanni: Adventures In Sicily starts at 9pm on Tuesday,March 21 on BBC One.