When Strictly Come Dancing fans learnt Rose Ayling-Ellis was going to be paired with Lothario Giovanni Pernice, many wondered if the ‘Strictly curse’ would strike.
Rose and Giovanni have insisted the whole way through that they are just friends and dance partners, especially as when the series first began, they were both in relationships.
EastEnders actress Rose has been with her boyfriend Sam, who is also deaf, for seven years.
But four months in and it seems Giovanni and Maura have called it quits, as they have deleted all trace of each other from their social media, and unfollowed one another.
A source told OK! their split was all down to Giovanni’s Strictly stint.
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“Strictly is such hard work and all your time is taken up with the show, so Maura wasn’t given much of his time,” they said.
“Sadly, the writing was written on the wall.
“Giovanni wants to win the show. He’s got such an amazing bond with Rose and Maura couldn’t handle it.”
Meanwhile, another insider claimed Maura was “blindsided” when Giovanni, 31, broke things off with her, and confirmed it was down to her their conflicting busy schedules and “crazy suitcase lives”.
“Maura didn’t see this coming and is finding it very difficult to come to terms with. She genuinely thought Gio was the one,” they revealed to The Sun.
“Gio is also set to go on tour again next year when Strictly ends so their lifestyles just don’t fit with settling down at the moment.
“He adores Maura and had hoped they could remain friends – but that doesn’t look likely.”
Maura ignored the Strictly fans who speculated there might be chemistry between Giovanni and Rose, but she wasn’t exactly their biggest cheerleader.
The only time she posted about the pair, who have been topping the leaderboard most weeks, was one time shortly before their first live show.
She penned a brief message that read: “The very best of luck to you both tonight. I know you will absolutely smash it.”
But since news of the split broke, Gio hasn’t exactly been moping.
He shared a video of himself playing the piano and “serenading” 26-year-old Rose, but when the camera panned to her, Rose looks blank and reminds him: “I’m deaf.”
Rose made history as the first deaf person to compete on Strictly Come Dancing since it launched in 2004.
Speaking with Closer magazine earlier this week, the actress explained how dancing with Giovanni is helping her embrace and bring out sexy alter egos.
“I’m not a very sexy person at all. If I have to be sexy, I tend to give myself a character and the character a name to not be me,” Rose told the publication.
“It was ‘dirty Lola’ for the salsa, as normal Rose is about as sexy as Mr Bean!
“When watching myself back, I don’t recognise myself sometimes. I’m like ‘Oh wow!’ It’s a transformation. It’s quite a shock.”
She also went on to discuss her hope that her stint will “smash the stigma” deaf people face in all walks of life.
Rose uses hearing aids and sign language to communicate and is “proud” to be the first ever deaf celebrity contest to compete for the coveted Glitterball trophy.
She added that what she “really wants” is to “move along” the conversation when it comes to deaf people and music, as many people incorrectly believe they can’t enjoy it at all.
The star went on to add that she hopes her appearance on Strictly Come Dancing will help viewers realise “it’s a normal thing” for deaf people to enjoy music.
Giovanni, who also once dated eliminated Strictly star Katie McGlynn, has been learning sign language in order to communicate more effectively with his celebrity teammate.
On last weekend’s results show, host Claudia Winkleman remarked: “Giovanni, you have been learning so much signing.”
The pair then went on to showcase some of the words the Strictly professional has perfected over recent weeks.
Viewers at home loved the interaction, with one taking to social media to exclaim: “Giovanni learning sign language & deaf awareness for Rose is the cutest thing ever!”
“I’m so glad they’re paired together. I love the connection between Rose and Giovanni,” added another.
Giovanni spoke of his joy at swapping new skills with his dance partner, revealing they were both teaching each other, which he reckons is the “perfect combination”.
He then went on to dub Rose a “brilliant student” and praise her commitment to rehearsals, gushing: “I couldn’t ask for anyone better.”
* Strictly Come Dancing continues on Saturday night on BBC One
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