Stars of Strictly pay tribute to ‘brilliant’ Len Goodman after his death at 78

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Judges and hosts of Strictly Come Dancing have paid tribute to the “twinkle, warmth and wit” of Len Goodman following his death at the age of 78.

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

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.

Fellow judges Bruno Tonioli, Craig Revel Horwood and Dame Darcey Bussell, and co-host Claudia Winkleman were among those sharing tributes.

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”.

“My heart and love go out to his lovely Sue and family,” he added.

“Len Goody Goodman is what I always called him and ‘It’s a ten from Len & seveeeeern’ will live with me forever. RIP Len.”

Dame Darcy said she was “very sad” and described Goodman as a “dear wonderful gentleman”.

“My heart goes out to his family & dear Sue,” she added.

“He gave me such support on my time at Strictly. I feel so lucky to have worked with such a professional, funny, loveable man. Thank you for the special memories.”

Presenter Winkleman tweeted: “I’m so sad about Len. 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.”

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

He 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.

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.

Tributes also came from former Strictly contestants, including Good Morning Britain presenter Susanna Reid, who competed in 2013.

She said: “Oh this is such an awful shock and so sad. Len was an absolute legend & the definition of a proper gent.

“He was a beautiful man with a huge sense of humour who had such a mischievous turn of phrase.

“I’ll never forget ‘All bounce, bum & bongos’. My love to his family.”

Former BBC presenter Dan Walker, who competed in 2021 and was friends with Goodman, also paid tribute.

He tweeted: “So sad to hear about the death of Len Goodman. He was an incredible man & an extraordinary talent.

“Loved making telly with him, being daft with him, playing golf with him & will never forget the little tips he would send every week on Strictly. All my love to his family.”

Former Strictly professional dancer Kevin Clifton, who won the contest in 2018, recalled being judged by Goodman since he was a young boy.

In a tribute on Instagram, he recalled Goodman telling him during his first day on the programme to “just enjoy every moment” and “don’t get too big for your boots”.

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