Len Goodman, the former head judge on Strictly Come Dancing, has passed away at 78 years old after being diagnosed with bone cancer. He died on Saturday night, surrounded by his loved ones at a hospice in Kent. His agent Jackie Gill confirmed the news and described Goodman as a “much-loved husband, father, and grandfather who will be sorely missed by family, friends, and all who knew him.”
Len Goodman’s Career and Contributions to Dance
Goodman was known for his warm humour and passion for Latin and Ballroom dancing, and he served as the head judge on Strictly Come Dancing from its launch in 2004 until 2016. His catchphrase “se-ven!” became iconic among Strictly fans. Goodman also appeared on the American version of the show, Dancing With The Stars, from 2005 until his departure last year.
Born in Bethnal Green in London’s East End, Goodman began his career selling fruit and veg on his grandfather’s market stall before turning to dance at the age of 19 on his doctor’s recommendation. He went on to win various competitions, including the British Championships in Blackpool in his late 20s. Goodman was also the owner of Goodman Academy, a dance school in Dartford, Kent, which has been running for over 50 years.
Tributes Pour In for Len Goodman
Tess Daly, the Strictly presenter, described Goodman as a “beautiful man, genuine, warm, and humble” and said she would “never forget the fun we had on set.” Claudia Winkleman, another Strictly presenter, wrote on Twitter: “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.” Strictly judge Craig Revel Horwood called Goodman his “gorgeous colleague and dear friend,” while judge Bruno Tonioli wrote on Instagram, “There will never be anyone like you. We will miss you.”
Goodman’s Contributions to Strictly’s Success
BBC director-general Tim Davie credited Goodman for his significant role in Strictly’s success, saying: “Len was at the very heart of Strictly’s success. He will be hugely missed by the public and his many friends and family.” Buckingham Palace also expressed its condolences, saying that the Queen Consort, who had met Goodman on several occasions and danced with him in 2019, was “saddened” to learn of his death.
Goodman’s legacy extends well beyond dance. He presented various BBC documentaries, a food travelogue alongside chef Ainsley Harriott, a family quiz show Partners In Rhyme (based on board game Obama Llama), and even had a voice cameo in Hollyoaks in 2021. Goodman was also a music enthusiast and regularly stood in for the late Paul O’Grady when he was away from his BBC Radio 2 show. A sports lover too, Goodman supported West Ham United and was a big fan of cricket. He leaves behind his son James and his wife, dance teacher Sue Barrett.
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