Len Goodman best bits: 7 memorable moments from ex Strictly Come Dancing judge
Len Goodman, a professional dancer best known as the head judge on Strictly Come Dancing, had many standout moments in his career
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Former professional dancer and Strictly Come Dancing head judge Len Goodman passed away on Saturday 22 April at a hospice in Kent, his manager confirmed today (24 April). The TV star died of bone cancer just three days before his 79th birthday.
Across a career spanning more than five decades, Len started out as a dancer, originally taking up the hobby as a form of therapy for a foot injury. He then went professional before retiring from dancing and later becoming a household name through his role as head judge on BBC’s Strictly Come Dancing from 2004-2016.
As tributes pour in from all corners of the entertainment world, including from former judging colleague Craig Revel Horwood and Bruno Tonioli, we look back at seven of the most iconic moments from Len Goodman’s career.
Latin Segue at the German Showdance Championships, 1971
Before Len became a household name as Strictly Come Dancing’s head judge, he was a professional dancer himself. Before his retirement from dancing in his late twenties, he took part in the German Showdance Championships in Baden Baden.
There he performed a Latin Seque with Cherry Kingston, another professional dancer who he would later marry. A video of the pair’s dance has resurfaced online and it is a testament to the star’s talent. Although Len retired around 50 years ago, he continued to dance until the end of his life.
Dancing with Duchess of Cornwall
Len proved that he still had it in 2019 when he was seen dancing with the then Duchess of Cornwall, Camilla, at the 90th anniversary of the British Dance Council at London’s Victory Services Club, where Camilla is a patron.
He asked Camilla for a dance at the event where they were promoting the physical, mental and social benefits of dancing, and she was more than happy to accept. Len said of the event: “What an honour, over the years I’ve danced with hundreds of girls and that is the most memorable one, she’s so nice and was charming and lovely.”
Rejecting Ally Brooke on Dancing with the Stars
In what was a fairly uncomfortable, but very memorable moment on American series Dancing with the Stars, Len seemed to lose his cool with contestant Ally Brooke. He complimented her routine with her professional dance partner Sasha Farber, saying ‘I really enjoyed the performance’.
In her excitement, Ally ran across to the judge’s table and gave Len a high five, but the judge was less than impressed. He said ‘don’t get overwhelmed’ before adding ‘don’t touch me again’. Ally was confused as to Len’s response as he continued to heap praise on her performance as if nothing had happened.
Jerry Hall ‘downstairs’ comments
When judging model Jerry Hall and her professional partner Anton Du Beke on the 10th season of Strictly, Len put his foot in his mouth with his off the cuff comments. He said: ‘I don’t know about Hollywood, it was a bit Upstairs Downstairs. There’s still a few problems upstairs if I’m honest, with your posture.’
So far so good, but then Len went on to add: ‘downstairs, you’re quite neat and tidy’, prompting giggles from the contestants, audience, and even his fellow judges. Len tried to backtrack, shouting ‘I’m talking about her footwork’ as Anton called out ‘somebody stop him’.
Dropping an F-bomb live on TV
Live TV is rife with perils, chief amongst them is the risk of swearing making it out before the watershed, which Len went on to prove on the 12th season of Strictly. After watching Simon Webbe and Kristina Rihanoff's Argentine Tango, he said: “Something about the atmosphere, the audience are behind everyone, the home of dance” before adding under his breath ‘f***ing hell.’
Alas, the curse was caught on his microphone prompting an apology from the show’s co-host Zoe Ball - she said: “I also would like to apologise, Len got a bit carried away with the excitement of the dance and I’m very sorry for the bad language".
This Morning interview after leaving Strictly Come Dancing
Following his retirement from Strictly Come Dancing, Len joined Holly and Phil on the This Morning sofa to speak about the new series going ahead without him. He told the pair that watching the show without him as a judge felt like seeing an ex-girlfriend with another man.
He went on to add that he loves the show and when asked what he thought of his replacement Motsi Mabuse, he added in his strong cockney accent: ‘Well, I don’t know. She seemed alright don’t she, she’ll probably know her onions.’
This isn’t one moment, but rather scores of moments from across Len’s time on Strictly Come Dancing. The judge became known for his distinctive ‘seveeern’ catchphrase. Although not the highest score you can achieve on Strictly - each judge scores performances out of 10, contestants were always excited to get a seven from Len.
As news of the star’s death broke this morning, stars from across the TV world were left bereft and many have paid tribute to the dancing legend - and rather than 7s, Len is getting 10s all round.