Former Strictly Come Dancing judge Len Goodman dies aged 78

Tuesday 25 April 2023

The former Strictly Come Dancing judge Len Goodman has died aged 78, his agent has said. He became a judge on the show in 2004 and his final appearance was on the 2016 Christmas Day special.

Jackie Gill said in a statement: “It is with great sadness we announce that Len Goodman has passed away peacefully, aged 78. A much loved husband, father and grandfather who will be sorely missed by family, friends and all who knew him.”

Goodman began dancing at 19, winning various competitions, including the British Championships in Blackpool in his late 20s. He was replaced as head judge on the BBC show by Shirley Ballas.

Goodman received the Carl Alan award in recognition of outstanding contributions to dance.

As well as his dancing and television career, he owned the Goodman Academy dance school in Dartford, Kent.

Goodman also served as head judge on Dancing With the Stars, the US version of the show, for more than 15 years, until he announced his retirement in November last year. He said at the time that he wanted to “spend more time with my grandchildren and family” back in the UK.

In an Instagram post, fellow judge Bruno Tonioli said he was “heartbroken” at the news of Goodman’s death. Tonioli, who starred alongside Goodman on both Strictly and Dancing With the Stars, said: “Heartbroken, my dear friend and partner for 19 years, the one and only ballroom legend Len Goodman, passed away.

“I will treasure the memory of our incredible adventures and hundreds of shows we did together... [There] will never be anyone like you. We will miss you.”

Claudia Winkleman, who co-presents Strictly, tweeted: “I’m so sad about Len. He was one of a kind, a brilliant and kind man. Full of twinkle, warmth and wit. Sending all love to his family and friends. X”

Darcey Bussell, another Strictly judge, expressed her sorrow at Goodman’s passing. “Very sad to hear about the death of dear, wonderful gentleman, Len Goodman,” she tweeted. “My heart goes out to his family & dear Sue. He gave me such support on my time at Strictly. I feel so lucky to have worked with such a professional, funny, loveable man. Thank you for the special memories x”

Goodman’s longstanding colleague and fellow Strictly judge, Craig Revel Horwood, posted a tribute on Twitter: “I’ve just woken up to the sad news that my gorgeous colleague and dear friend Len Goodman has passed away. My heart and love go out to his lovely Sue and family. Len ‘Goody’ Goodman is what I always called him, and ‘It’s a 10 from Len & seveeeeern’ will live with me for ever. RIP Len.”

Tim Davie, the BBC director general, said in a statement: “Len Goodman was a wonderful, warm entertainer who was adored by millions. He appealed to all ages and felt like a member of everyone’s family. Len was at the very heart of Strictly’s success. He will be hugely missed by the public and his many friends and family.”

The Queen consort, Camilla – a longtime Strictly fan who danced with Goodman at the British Dance Council’s 90th anniversary celebration – was “saddened” to hear of his passing, according to PA Media. “Her Majesty was saddened to hear the news,” a spokesperson said.

Ballas has also paid her respects to her “dearest friend” and “past teacher”.

Many former contestants also paid tribute on social media. Robert Rinder, a criminal barrister and television personality who competed on the show in 2016, shared a photo of Goodman on Twitter and thanked him for “bringing so much joy”.

“A rare gentleman: Kind, charming, exacting, encouraging & danced like a dream. .. Thank you for bringing so much joy.”