Strictly Come Dancing kicked off its 2023 series with an emotional tribute to the late Len Goodman, who served as an expert judge on the programme for 12 years.


The larger-than-life personality had a long history in the ballroom, starting his dance career at age 19 and going on to win the British Championships in Blackpool about a decade later.

He played a major role in establishing Strictly Come Dancing as the juggernaut it is today, holding a spot on the judging panel from its first season in 2004 up until 2016, when he chose to step down.

However, Len remained a more distant member of the Strictly family as he continued to offer his guidance to contestants on the US version – titled Dancing with the Stars – until 2022.

Last night's launch episode for Strictly Come Dancing 2023 featured a special tribute to Len, in which his colleagues on the programme shared their thoughts and memories of him. Watch below:

"Len was a true gentleman," began Strictly presenter Tess Daly. "He was just so good-natured, so warm. And the Len that you saw on TV was the Len in real-life – there was no separation."

Claudia Winkleman continued: "Len could light up a room so when you were with Len you felt a glow."

The discussion moved to Len's unusual turns of phrase that never failed to win big laughs in the studio ("yum yum, pig's bum!") as well as his trademark delivery of one particular score – "seven!".

"Len is somebody you would want to have as a friend and I was fortunate enough to have Len as a friend for many years," said Strictly pro-turned-judge Anton Du Beke.

Craig Revel Horwood fought back tears, adding: "If you asked me a question: 'Was Len one of your best friends?' I would say, 'absolutely'. I would love to say goodbye to him."

Paraphrasing a Matt Monroe song, Du Beke concluded the segment: "I'll only miss him when I think of him, but I think of him every day."

Goodman passed away from bone cancer in April 2023.

Strictly Come Dancing continues on BBC One at 6:15pm on Saturday 23rd September 2023. Check out more of our Entertainment coverage or visit our TV Guide and Streaming Guide to find out what's on.


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