Len Goodman has died at the age of 78, a spokesperson for the former Strictly Come Dancing judge has confirmed in a statement to RadioTimes.com.
Jackie Gill confirmed the news, stating: "He passed away surrounded by his family on Saturday evening. He had bone cancer. People have described him as ‘the perfect gent’ and he retained his sense of humour and his dignity throughout."
The dance expert was reported to have recently been in a hospice in Tunbridge Wells, Kent following a short illness.
Tim Davie, the director-general of the BBC, said in a statement today: “Len Goodman was a wonderful, warm entertainer who was adored by millions. He appealed to all ages and felt like a member of everyone’s family. Len was at the very heart of Strictly’s success. He will be hugely missed by the public and his many friends and family.”
The dancing professional quickly became an on-screen favourite after appearing as head judge on Strictly Come Dancing from its launch in 2004 until 2016, and then on the American equivalent of the show, Dancing with the Stars, from 2005 to 2022.
He was named as the best ever Strictly Come Dancing judge by RadioTimes.com readers in 2019, despite at the time quitting the BBC show three years prior.
He won with 38 per cent of the vote after more than 4,000 people voted in the global poll and speaking of his surprise at the result, Goodman told RadioTimes.com: “I’m so flattered and shocked. Usually I’m popular with old people and old people don’t usually do polls.
“I always tried on the show to be entertaining so where I could I tried to put some humour into it. I never liked Craig’s way – he goes totally for the negative. If I was going to be negative I would try and put a bit of positive with it. I’m honoured. It’s a terrific concept and a wonderful show.”
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Throughout his time on Strictly, Goodman became known for his no-nonsense judging and humour, as well as the trademark shout of 'Seven!' that was called out on the judging panel and by beloved fans, even long after he left the show.
He was replaced in the Strictly judging panel by Shirley Ballas but continued his work on Dancing with the Stars, until the announcement of his retirement in November last year.
He said in his retirement statement at the time: "This will be my last season judging Dancing With the Stars. I've been on the show since it started in 2005, and it has been a huge pleasure to be a part of such a wonderful show but I've decided I want to spend more time with my grandchildren and family back in Britain."
In addition to his well-loved appearances on TV and having a successful professional dancing career of his own, Goodman also owned the Goodman Academy, a dance school in Dartford, Kent.
Although his popular TV appearances came later on in life, he always admitted that it never felt like work. He had previously wrote: "Work was something you didn't like doing. You've heard the expression I could've danced for joy? Well, I have and still do."