Former Strictly judge Len Goodman delivers his verdict on Shirley Ballas

The former Strictly head judge also revealed who he's tipping for Strictly 2017 glory, and why he won't return to the UK version even though he's still judging the USA's Dancing with the Stars

Len Goodman and Shirley Ballas

Strictly Come Dancing’s former head judge Len Goodman says he thinks his replacement on the judging panel, Shirley Ballas, is doing a “wonderful job”.


Goodman, who is still contracted to work on the USA’s answer to Strictly, Dancing With The Stars, told ITV’s Lorraine Kelly that he hadn’t watched the show until he came home last week, but said that he was very impressed with Shirley’s judging.

“I thought it was terrific. I thought the standard was great. I think Shirley’s doing a wonderful job,” he said.

“I’ve known her for all her dancing life. I’ve judged her hundreds of times. Of course I know Shirley. It’s always difficult to step in and I’m sure there’s thousands of people saying, ‘Thank God Goodman’s gone and we’ve got lovely Shirley’. But I think she’s doing a wonderful job.”

Goodman admitted that he does miss Strictly, but is still happy with his decision to call it a day.

“There’s always a twang but I did it for 12 years, I wasn’t getting too dithery. I wasn’t dribbling or whatever, so I thought there comes a time where you think, ‘Well, I did it for 12 years’. I couldn’t do the flying backwards and forwards.”

Len Goodman and the Strictly Come Dancing judging panel
Len Goodman and the Strictly Come Dancing judging panel (BBC)

Why does he still serve as a judge on Dancing With The Stars, then?

Well, as Goodman explained, his Strictly contract was renewed on an annual basis, but he had signed a four year contract in the USA which he’s still honouring.

“I’ve got one more to do,” Goodman explained. “I’ve had people say, ‘Fancy leaving Strictly and still doing the American one’. It was nothing to do with that. I love Strictly. Strictly gave me everything.”

Speaking of Strictly, who does he fancy for the win this year?

“Only because I’ve always wanted someone slightly older to do well and win it, and so for that reason I think I’d like Debbie McGee to win,” Goodman said.

Strictly Come Dancing Debbie McGee and Giovanni Pernice

“She’s amazing. I always admire a 60-year-old who can cock her leg up high!”


Is Strictly your top choice when it comes to family entertainment on Christmas Day? Design you dream Christmas TV line-up here

Strictly Come Dancing continues on BBC1 on Saturday and Sunday nights