Dancing industry on both sides of the pond remembers ‘legendary’ Len Goodman

The dancer and choreographer acted as a judge on both the BBC’s Strictly Come Dancing and the US equivalent Dancing With The Stars.
The dancer and choreographer acted as a judge on both the BBC’s Strictly Come Dancing and the US equivalent Dancing With The Stars.

Members of the entertainment industry on both sides of the pond have come together to pay tribute to Len Goodman, describing his death as “a huge loss to the world of dancing”.

The dancer and choreographer acted as head judge on the BBC’s Strictly Come Dancing and the US equivalent Dancing With The Stars, with both shows mourning the news on Monday.

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

He announced he would be stepping down from his role as head judge on Dancing With The Stars after more than 15 years in November.

Judge Derek Hough said he was “heartbroken” by the news about his “dear friend and mentor”.

“It’s a gloomy morning here in Los Angeles which seems fitting after this heartbreaking news,” he wrote on Instagram.

“But when I think back at the memories we all shared with Len, his sense of humour, his smile and charm, everything feels much brighter and full of sunshine.

“Still hard to fully process but filled with gratitude knowing I had the privilege of working beside this absolute legend. We will miss you dearly Len.”

The show’s host, Tyra Banks, posted a black and white photo of Goodman to her Instagram story, captioning it “a legend … forever.”

Professional dancer Keo Motsepe said: “Rest well Sir Len. You will be missed” in his own tribute.

Other tributes came from John Barrowman and Donny Osmond, who wrote: “A huge loss in the world of dancing. Sending prayers to his family and loved ones.”

Doctor Who actor Barrowman, who was champion of the Strictly Christmas special in 2010, also wrote on Twitter that both shows “have lost their leading man and the ballroom dance world has lost a legend today”.

He added: “Len Goodman was a charming, down to earth lovely man. If anyone was quintessentially British, it was Len. What a career, What a life, What a man.”

Alongside his work stateside, Goodman had been a fan favourite on Strictly although he stepped down as head judge in 2016, having been on the panel since the programme began in 2004.

He became 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 said: “You were never a seven 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.

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

Craig 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.

Outside the show business industry, tributes were paid by both political parties, as well as the Queen Consort – an avid fan of Strictly.

Goodman and Camilla 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.

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 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.