Len Goodman, the former head judge of popular UK reality show Strictly Come Dancing, has died aged 78.
Goodman, who became a judge on the BBC show in 2004, made his final appearance on the 2016 Christmas Day special. He was replaced as head judge by Shirley Ballas.
He also served as head judge on Dancing With The Stars, the US version of the show, for more than 15 years until he announced his retirement in November last year.
He said at the time that he wanted to “spend more time with my grandchildren and family” back in the UK.
“It is with great sadness to announce that Len Goodman has passed away peacefully, aged 78. A much-loved husband, father and grandfather who will be sorely missed by family, friends and all who knew him,” his agent said.
Goodman began dancing at 19, winning various competitions including the British Championships in Blackpool in his late 20s, after which he retired.
He 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 of 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.
BBC director-general Tim Davie was among those paying tribute.
“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,” David said.
“Len was at the very heart of Strictly’s success. He will be hugely missed by the public and his many friends and family.”
Former BBC presenter Dan Walker, who competed on Strictly Come Dancing in 2021 and was friends with Goodman, said he was “so sad” to hear the news.
“He was an incredible man and an extraordinary talent. Loved making telly with him, being daft with him, playing golf with him and will never forget the little tips he would send every week on Strictly … All my love to his family,” Walker tweeted.