Queen Consort ‘saddened’ by death of former Strictly judge Len Goodman

Downing Street also sent condolences to the loved ones of the ‘great entertainer’.
Downing Street also sent condolences to the loved ones of the ‘great entertainer’.

Buckingham Palace has said the Queen Consort was “saddened” to learn of the death of former Strictly Come Dancing judge Len Goodman.

The dancer and choreographer, originally from east London, had been diagnosed with bone cancer and died on Saturday night aged 78.

He and Camilla, an avid fan of Strictly, shared a dance in September 2019 as part of the British Dance Council’s 90th anniversary celebrations at London’s Victory Services Club.

She also previously appeared in Strictly’s 2017 Christmas special, dancing with judge Craig Revel Horwood at Buckingham Palace.

“Her Majesty was saddened to hear the news,” a spokesperson said.

Downing Street also joined former and current judges and presenters of the programme in sending condolences to the loved ones of the “great entertainer”.

Asked if Prime Minister Rishi Sunak was saddened by the news, his official spokesman said: “Of course.

“He was a great entertainer, a popular face on TV screens up and down the country and as a judge on Strictly Come Dancing.

“He will be missed by many and our condolences go to his friends and family.”

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer also paid tribute to Goodman as “Mr Strictly”.

Speaking to reporters from St Giles Trust in Camberwell, Sir Keir said: “I think across the country there’ll be a genuine heartfelt sadness at this turn of events.”

Goodman became a judge on the BBC show in 2004, becoming known for his catchphrase “Seven!”, and his final appearance was on the 2016 Christmas Day special.

He announced his retirement from TV six months ago and would have celebrated his 79th birthday on Tuesday.

Strictly presenter Tess Daly described Goodman as a “beautiful man, genuine, warm and humble, who left an impression on everyone he met” and said she would never forget the fun they had on set.

She added: “You were never a 7 for me, Len you were always a 10.”

Her co-host Claudia Winkleman added that Goodman had been “full of twinkle, warmth and wit”.

Fellow judge Bruno Tonioli said his heart was “broken” at the news that his “dear friend and partner” had died.

He added: “I will treasure the memory of our incredible adventures and hundreds of shows we did together @bbcstrictly @dancingwiththestars.

“They will never be anyone like you. We will miss you.”

Revel Horwood described Goodman as a “gorgeous colleague and dear friend” and said his “heart and love” went out to his family.

Dame Darcey Bussell, meanwhile, thanked the late star for “the special memories”.

Fellow judge Anton Du Beke, who was a professional dancer on the show during Goodman’s tenure, paid tribute to his “dear friend of nearly 45 years”.

He said Goodman had been “clever, articulate, wonderfully well-read and a great lover of poetry” adding that they played golf together over nearly four decades.

“A national treasure certainly, but more importantly to me he was my friend. I was very lucky to know him. I’m going to miss you, Len,” he said.

Former Strictly judge Alesha Dixon called Goodman “a true gentleman and one of a kind”.

“He always made me feel so welcome and we laughed a lot,” she added.

There were also tributes from celebrity contestants including Good Morning Britain presenter and 2013 participant Susanna Reid and former BBC presenter Dan Walker, who competed in 2021.

Goodman began dancing at 19, winning various competitions including the British Championships in Blackpool in his late 20s, after which he retired from professional competition.

He was replaced as head judge on Strictly by Shirley Ballas for the 2017 series.

Goodman also served as head judge on Dancing With The Stars, the US version of the show, until announcing 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.

Goodman was also a recipient of the Carl Alan Award in recognition of outstanding contributions to dance.

As well as his successful dancing and television career, he was also the owner of the Goodman Academy, a dance school in Dartford, Kent.

Outside dance, Goodman was a music enthusiast and regularly stood in for the late Paul O’Grady when the entertainer was away from his BBC Radio 2 show.

Former MP Ann Widdecombe, who competed on Strictly in 2010, said Goodman was “very, very funny” as a judge.

She added to PA: “He once told Anton and me that we were like haemorrhoids because we would keep coming back and it was always more painful than last time.

“On another occasion, he told us we were like snow, everybody thinks it’s such a novelty at first but then all you want to do is for it to go away.

“On another occasion he told me that ‘dancing was supposed to be movement to music and there had indeed been music and there had indeed been movement, but there was absolutely no correlation between the two’. You have a whole series of the most wonderful quotes.”

She said Goodman would give her tips when he could and they had also been on the Strictly tour together.