Len Goodman Tributes: ‘Class Act’ Remembered by Strictly Come Dancing and Dancing with the Stars Fans


Len Goodman

Len Goodman, the beloved head judge of Strictly Come Dancing and its US counterpart Dancing With The Stars, has passed away at the age of 78. Goodman, a former welder, was diagnosed with bone cancer and died in a hospice in Tunbridge Wells, Kent, surrounded by his family.

Friends and co-stars paid tribute to the beloved entertainer, with Strictly presenter Claudia Winkleman calling him “a class act” who was full of “twinkle, warmth and wit”. Former Strictly judge Dame Dacey Bussell said: “He had the gift of the gab, and I will never forget his use of fruit and veg and sticky toffee pudding as descriptive phrases of dance.”

Goodman was known for his wry humour and avuncular critiques, managing to turn the act of giving scores into a source of catchphrases. From his comedically elongated pronunciation of “seveeeen” to the much sought-after “10 from Len”, he was Strictly’s longest-serving judge. Craig Revel Horwood described him as a “gorgeous colleague and dear friend”, while Bruno Tonioli declared: “There will never be anyone like you. You will always be my perfect 10.”

Winkleman said: “There was nobody like him because he was so humble. He was adorable – on camera, off camera, and to everybody who took part.” Tess Daly added that Goodman was “a beautiful man, genuine, warm and humble, who left an impression on everyone he met”. Shirley Ballas remembered him as a “dance legend” and “a true gentleman”, while Antone Du Beke recalled having first met Goodman when he was just a young lad, as he was his dance judge.

Goodman made his final appearance on Strictly during the 2016 Christmas Day special. He also served as head judge on Dancing With The Stars for more than 15 years, announcing his retirement in November last year saying he wanted to “spend more time with my grandchildren and family” in the UK.

Respects were also paid by the British Royal family and UK government. Camilla, the Queen Consort, who danced with Goodman at a public engagement in 2019, was “saddened to hear the news”, according to a Buckingham Palace spokesperson. A spokesman for the Prime Minister Rishi Sunak described Goodman as “a great entertainer, a popular face on TV screens up and down the country”.

Len Goodman will be remembered as a kind and brilliant man who lit up the screen with his twinkle, warmth and wit. His use of fruit and veg and sticky toffee pudding as descriptive phrases of dance will never be forgotten. He was always professional: grounded, funny, loveable, supportive and respectful…but never shy to say how it was. For Len, Strictly and Dancing with the Stars was never about the fame, it was about keeping his world of dance true and relevant. He will be sorely missed by family, friends and all who knew him.