Len Goodman: Ex-Strictly head judge dies at 78

Former Strictly Come Dancing head judge Len Goodman has died at the age of 78, his manager has confirmed.

Monday - 24/04/2023 07:16 Author: Editors Desk Source: BBC News:
Len Goodman
Len Goodman

He died on Saturday at a hospice in Tunbridge Wells, Kent, surrounded by his family. He had had bone cancer.

Goodman featured on Strictly from its launch in 2004 until 2016 and proved popular with viewers for his wry humour and avuncular critiques.

As well as Strictly, he also appeared on the US version of the show, Dancing With the Stars from 2005 until 2022.

A statement from his manager, Jackie Gill, on Monday said: "It is with great sadness to 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's enthusiastic delivery when awarding contestants a score of seven points effectively turned the number into his catchphrase.

Strictly's longest-serving judge, Craig Revel Horwood, referenced that showmanship while leading the tributes on Monday, describing Goodman as a "gorgeous colleague and dear friend".

"Len Goody Goodman is what I always called him and 'It's a ten from Len & seveeeeern' will live with me forever," he added.

Fellow judge Motsi Mabuse posted a black and white picture of Goodman on her Instagram story, simply captioning it "R.I.P".

Former judge Bruno Tonioli shared a picture of the two of them together, declaring: "There will never be anyone like you. You will always be my perfect 10."

Dame Darcey Bussell, another former judge, noted how Goodman "gave me such support on my time at Strictly and I feel incredibly lucky to have worked with such a professional, funny and loveable man"

While former contestant Susanna Reid said the news of Goodman's death was "such an awful shock and so sad".

"Len was an absolute legend and the definition of a proper gent. He was a beautiful man with a huge sense of humour who had such a mischievous turn of phrase."

She said she would never forget the time he described her Samba as being "all bounce, bum and bongos".

The show's presenter Claudia Winkleman called Goodman "one of a kind, a brilliant and kind man".

He was, she added: "Full of twinkle, warmth and wit."

Meanwhile, her co-host Tess Daly said he was "a beautiful man, genuine, warm and humble, who left an impression on everyone he met".

"I'll never forget the fun we had on set, his love and passion for dancing and that wonderfully cheeky smile lit up the screen," she posted.

"You were never a 7 for me, Len you were always a 10."

Other Strictly dancers who paid tribute included Gorka MarquezGionvanni PerniceJanette Manrara, as well as Katya Jones and Johannes Radebe.

Some of Goodman's best remarks to Strictly contestants

:: "You floated across that floor like butter on a crumpet."

:: "It was like watching a stork who'd been struck by lightning."

:: "You were like a chess master - you plotted your way around that floor. That was a mango of a tango. Delicious."

:: "For me, you can't waft enough." 

Len Goodman holding up his famous seven sign
Len Goodman was famed for his enthusiastic delivery when awarding seven points to contestants

Goodman began dancing at 19, winning the British Championships in his late 20s, after which he retired to become a professional judge, teacher and choreographer.

He was the head judge on Strictly Come Dancing from its inception, and made his final appearance on 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.

Music enthusiast Goodman regularly stood in for the late Paul O'Grady on his BBC Radio 2 show.

BBC director-general Tim Davie was among those paying tribute, saying he was "a wonderful, warm entertainer who was adored by millions".

"He appealed to all ages and felt like a member of everyone's family," he said. "Len was at the very heart of Strictly's success. He will be hugely missed by the public and his many friends and family." 

Len Goodman also appeared on Dancing with the Stars, the US version of Strictly
He also appeared on Dancing with the Stars, the US version of Strictly

Another former Strictly contestant, Russell Grant paid tribute on Twitter, posting: "The wonderful Len Goodman has left us. He was so kind and lovely to me when I was on [the show] and we met on other programmes including his own filmed at BBC Glasgow.

"The word legend is overused but Len and his 'SEVEN' [points] became a catchphrase across UK & USA. A true character."

Boxing star Frank Bruno added: "RIP Len Goodman this is a shock he was the man we all thought was indestructible met him several times, he said he would personally give me some dance lessons if I ever got Strictly, really sad."

Goodman, who was a recipient of the Carl Alan Award in recognition of outstanding contributions to dance, was also the owner of the Goodman Academy, a dance school in Dartford, Kent.

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