Strictly's Giovanni aims to prove that he's Born To Win

Born To Win - Strictly Come Dancing favourite, Giovanni Pernice with his leading lady Luba Mushtuk
Born To Win - Strictly Come Dancing favourite, Giovanni Pernice with his leading lady Luba Mushtuk

In his three seasons as a professional on Strictly Come Dancing, the Italian dancer Giovanni Pernice has definitely made his mark.

Not only has he become known for getting women's pulses racing with his smouldering routines, he has also twice been the runner-up – with Georgia May Foote in his debut year, and with Debbie McGee in the most recent series.

And now he is out on the road with his second show, Born To Win.

Originally from Sicily, he now lives in London.

'I moved here in 2015 when I started the show,' he explains, 'and now I think I’m an English boy! It’s definitely my home here now, 100 per cent. I popped back to Italy at Christmas time to see my family, but I’m English now, it’s fish and chips all the way.'

Giovanni came close to lifting the TV show's famed Glitterball trophy with Debbie – the pair were favourites going into the fina.

'I was in the final in my first year, with Georgia, and this year with Debbie. Every time it seems like I’m going to get close but not make it! With Debbie it was really nice, I enjoyed every second, she really is a nice person and a really great dancer. I was very pleased with everything.

'Of course she was a ballet dancer, but ballroom/Latin is completely different, there’s a lot of technique to learn.

'The reason she was so successful is that she put 100 per cent commitment into everything she was doing so she really wanted to learn how to dance, which makes my job a lot easier! She was learning all the time.'

However, he is now focused on his own show.

Born To Win will tell an epic tale of love and passion, with dances such as the paso doble and the Argentine tango, the Charleston, the Viennese waltz and of course, the jive – Giovanni is the current Guinness World Record Holder for having the world's fastest jive kicks and flicks.

'The title is from one of my tattoos, on my arm, "Nato per vincere", this is one of my mottos. I would wake up everyday, and say as long as we wake up and we are smiling and we’re happy with what we’re doing, we’re already winning.

'You have to be born to win, and it’s what happened to me too – being on the biggest show on television, and enjoying what I do, dancing and living to dance, it’s what I love.

'My dad always taught me this, he always said life is too short.'

Giovanni will be joined by seven more professional dancers, including Luba Mushtuk, as his leading lady.

'We know each other because she’s from Italy as well,' says Giovanni. 'I always knew she was a great dancer, and she’s an assistant choreographer on Strictly as well, so she’s already close to Strictly. She’s been very supportive and was a big part of the success of last year’s show, so it’s been good to have her back with me.'

The pair also danced together on the recently finished Strictly Come Dancing arena tour, which saw them performing to up to 10,000 people a night.

The show is the follow-up to Giovanni's 2016 solo debut show, Dance Is Life.

'That was my first ever tour and it was very successful, I was asked me to do another show, and because everything worked really well, my producer is one of the best in the country and the production team is amazing, I hope we’ll have the same success this year.'

The Kings Theatre, Southsea

Thursday, April 19