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Daily Mirror
Daily Mirror
Kyle O'Sullivan

Len Goodman's life after Strictly - not speaking to co-stars and living in a pub

Len Goodman is waltzing away from Dancing With The Stars after 17 wonderful years - and will be heading back to the UK permanently.

The former Strictly Come Dancing head judge, famous for his 'sevEN' catchphrase, announced he had decided to quit the American version of the popular dancing show during Monday night's semi-finals.

Revealing next week's final would be his last show, he told the audience: "I've been with 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'd like to spend more time with my grandchildren and family back in Britain."

Len was in the original judging line-up of Strictly when it first aired in 2004 and on the US spin-off when it launched the following year, but he decided doing both versions was too much.

Len Goodman was the first Strictly Come Dancing head judge (BBC/Guy Levy)
Len was a firm favourite on Strictly (PA)

After eight years of Strictly, Len walked away in 2016 and was replaced as head judge by old friend Shirley Ballas, who is still in that role today.

"In 2004, I was asked to take part in a brand new BBC Saturday night show and who would have thought me, old Len Goodman, would still be part of this amazing series more than 10 years on," Len said at the time.

"This adventure began when I was 60 and now that I've reached my 70s, I've decided after this year it's time to hand the role of Head Judge to someone else.

"It is an honour being part of the wonderful Strictly Come Dancing family and I'm looking forward to my last series very much and to whatever comes next."

The dance teacher, who only became a household name in his 60s when he found fame on Strictly, went on to explain the reasons behind his decision to quit.

Insisting he was "only a cog in the Strictly wheel", he said: "It's really nice people say we’re going to miss you and I'd rather they say that than, 'Thank God you're going'.

"But I've done it for 12 years. I want to spend a bit more time with my family. I just think it's time to move on.

"I've got lots of interesting things to come, I’m sure people will ask me to do other little jobs, and I've got my ­granddaughter to play with. I'm going to have a lovely time."

Len was on the original Strictly judging panel (BBC)

Len, who has son James from his first marriage, wed long-term companion and dance teacher Sue Barrett in 2012 and the pair bought a Grade II-listed village pub for £1 million in 2015.

They won planning permission to convert the 15th century Chequers Inn in Kent into a home, which is near his Goodman Dance Academy in Dartford

Len admitted that he wanted to have more time to go and play golf with his friends - and that he didn't want Strictly viewers to get bored of him.

"I'd much prefer to leave the show with people saying, 'Oh what a shame Len’s going’, rather than ‘Thank heavens he's off'," he told The Mirror in 2016.

The following year, the former Strictly judge confessed there was a "twang of regret" over departing but admitted travelling between the UK and US became too much.

"I done it for 12 years, and I wasn't getting too dithery but there comes a time when I just couldn't keep going back and forwards," he told Lorraine Kelly on her ITV show.

Len also admitted he was "too busy" with Dancing In The Stars to carry on watching Strictly - and hit back at claims he ditched the British viewers for the glamour of LA.

Len wanted more time to go and play golf (Getty)

"It was nothing to do with preferring the American one," Len explained in another interview. "In Britain with Strictly, you sign a contract for each series. In March or so they'll say, 'Do you wanna do the show?' and you can say, 'yay' or they can say, 'We don't want you anymore.

"In America it's a different kettle of fish – you have to sign for four at a time. That's what I'd done. I was stuck with having to do it if I wanted to or not."

Len would spend the winter months in LA filmihg Dancing With The Stars - and his family would come out to join him during the run.

Admitting the weather is a bonus, he chuckled: "There's a lot to be said for going to Los Angeles during our winter. My wife comes out for a month and loves it.

"My son, his wife and granddaughter came out for a couple of weeks so it’s like a holiday for them, and I'm out in the sunshine playing a bit of golf, doing a bit of work."

Len has only missed two seasons of Dancing With The Stars, including the 2015 series because of his busy schedule on Strictly and the birth of his new grandson.

The 78-year-old also had to pull out of last year's show because of Covid travel restrictions, but did present short segments on dance styles.

Len confirmed that he had a tiny mole removed and is now taking extra care of his sun exposure (Len Goodman/Instagram)

Away from TV, in August 2020 it was reported that Len had undergone surgery to remove a skin cancer growth from his head.

He was spotted wearing a bandage on his forehead to cover the wound - and used his health scare to urge others to take care in the sun while getting involved with the Melanoma Fund’s Slip! Slap! Swing! Sun Protection Campaign for Golf.

Posing for a snap on behalf of the skin cancer charity, Len pointed to his injury on his head while posing with a cap covering his head as he increases his sun protection.

Len reassured fans he was back to his "gorgeous self" and as "good as gold" following the operation during an interview on GMB.

"I had a tiny little mole thing on the side of my head, probably from being out and playing golf and whatever. And it was such a simple process.

"The doctor put a few injections around it, took it out and I’m back to my gorgeous self."

In September last year, Len also made a surprise appearance on Hollyoaks, as Denice Welch's character, dance teacher Trish Minniver, heard his voice while reminiscing.

Len hasn't seen many of his former co-stars (EMPICS)

As for Strictly, Len does watch parts of the show now but admits he can't be a normal viewer because he is constantly thinking like a judge.

Unfortunately, he confessed his "path has not crossed" with his former Strictly colleagues, aside from fellow Dancing With The Stars judge Bruno Toinioli of course.

When asked if he catches up with the judges in November 2021, he told The Express: "No, I haven't. I haven't. Part of my path hasn't crossed any of them.

"I played golf the other day with Anton [Du Beke]," he added. "I don’t want him to start to copy them [the other judges] in any way, I want him to be himself, be honest."

Len was back on UK shores for the Queen's Platinum Jubilee this summer, but faced a backlash after saying his nan used to call curry powder "foreign muck."

Appearing live on the BBC ahead of the Platinum Jubilee pageant today, Len was asked if he was a good cook during a discussion on what food people would be eating to celebrate.

Len replied: "No. My wife did coronation chicken yesterday for our tea, I have never had it before.

The BBC issued an apology after Len Goodman has faced backlash for comments he made (BBC)

"I have never had curry and curry powder, no. My nan used to call it 'foreign muck', so I have been always worried about it.

"But I must say, it was delicious, it was tasty. So yep I had my first sampling of coronation chicken yesterday."

His comments sparked outrage on Twitter, with many expressing their anger over the remarks.

One person said: "I wonder if the BBC is cringing the same way I am? Len Goodman talking about "foreign muck" on a show that is being broadcasted around the world. I don't think this is helping Britain's global image."

Another agreed: "Petition to get the BBC and Len Goodman to apologise for his choice of words calling Coronation Chicken “foreign muck” in the words of his nan, apparently. Appalling and NO excuses because of his age. We forgive older generations for things like this too much.

However, some stuck up for him, with one saying: "If you were as old as Len Goodman then your nan probably called it foreign muck as well. Different generation, different times. Stop trying to out today's values on yesterday's people."

Now Len will be coming back to the UK to spend more time with his family after deciding to retire from Dancing With The Stars.

During this week's semi-final, Len made the surprise announcment to the audience and fellow judges Derek Hough, Carrie Ann Inaba, and Bruno Tonioli, who stood up and gathered around their colleague.

Len is leaving Dancing With The Stars (Walt Disney Television via Getty)

Addressing the audience with a tear in his eye, he said: "Whilst we're all getting excited and looking forward so much to the finale next week, it will also be with a touch of sadness as this will be my last season judging on Dancing With the Stars.

"I've been with 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'd like to spend more time with my grandchildren and family back in Britain.

"I cannot thank you enough, the Dancing With the Stars family. It's been such a wonderful experience for me and I'm looking forward so much to next week's finale. I'm sure it's gonna be absolutely brilliant."

The head judge later explained that he would miss spending time in LA but had decided it was time to stay permanently in the UK.

"Doing a live show you have to be at the top of your game and quick to react. And as one gets older, then things start to get more challenging," he told PEOPLE.

"I haven't fallen asleep or started dribbling yet on the show, so I thought it's best to go before I start to do so!"

"I will miss the California sunshine, working with my fellow judges and the camaraderie with everyone on the show," he adds. "I'll miss seeing the celebrities developing into dancers and I will miss being part of one of the most successful shows on TV."

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