Len Goodman, an original Dancing With The Stars judge who graced the panel with his good-natured counsel and clever humor, has died at the age of 78, his manager confirms to BBC. Goodman died on Saturday surrounded by his family at a hospice in Tunbridge Wells, Kent, England; he had bone cancer.
After getting his start as a professional ballroom dancer, Goodman began his lengthy judging career in 2004 on the British dance competition series Strictly Come Dancing, where he quickly gained traction with viewers for his lovable yet sharply witty critiques (the exuberance with which he would award contestants a seven out of ten score quickly made the numeral his own personal catchphrase). A master of simile, Goodman was beloved for his quippy remarks, referring once to a pair of salsa dancers as “two sizzling sausages on a barbecue,” and (on the less graceful side) deeming another performance akin to “watching a stork who’d been struck by lightning.”
In 2004, he joined ABC’s Dancing With The Stars—the U.S.’ own rendition of Strictly—as head judge, where he remained until November 2022, when he stepped away to “spend more time with my grandchildren and family.” Across his career, he also hosted a variety of programs including Partners in Rhyme, Holiday of My Lifetime with Len Goodman and Dancing Cheek to Cheek: An Intimate History of Dance.
In a statement, Goodman’s manager Jackie Gill lauded him as “a much-loved husband, father and grandfather who will be sorely missed by family, friends and all who knew him.”
So far, the sentiment has rung true, with countless coworkers, peers, and admirers of Goodmans have also shared memories and condolences in the wake of his death. Fellow DWTS judge Carrie Ann Inaba shared a tribute on Instagram, remembering Goodman as “A treasured friend.” Fellow judge Bruno Tonioli and former host Tom Bergeron also shared social media tributes.
Back in Goodman’s native Britain, a spokesperson for Prime Minister Rishi Sunak called Goodman“a great entertainer,” while Camilla, the Queen Consort, was “saddened to hear the news” of his death, according to a spokesperson from Buckingham Palace. In his own statement, BBC director general Tim Davies remembered Goodman as a “wonderful, warm entertainer who was adored by millions.”
“He appealed to all ages and felt like a member of everyone’s family,” said Davie. “He will be hugely missed by the public and his many friends and family.”
Craig Revel Horwood, the Strictly judge with the longest tenure, called Goodman a “gorgeous colleague and dear friend,” while Strictly co-host Claudia Winkleman described him as “a class act.”
“There was nobody like him because he was so humble,” she told BBC. “He was adorable - on camera, off camera, and to everybody who took part.”
Strictly’s other co-host, Tess Daly, echoed Winkleman’s thoughts, calling Goodman “a perfect 10" and “a beautiful man, genuine, warm and humble, who left an impression on everyone he met.” Former judge Bruno Tonioli agreed with Daly’s perfect score, writing: “There will never be anyone like you. You will always be my perfect 10.”