Former Strictly Come Dancing judge Len Goodman dies, aged 78

24 April 2023, 09:40 | Updated: 24 April 2023, 09:48

Len Goodman has died
Len Goodman has died. Picture: Getty

By Tom Eames

Former Strictly Come Dancing judge Len Goodman has passed away, his manager has confirmed.

Len Goodman was a hugely successful professional ballroom dancer, dance judge, and coach.

He appeared as head judge on Strictly Come Dancing from its beginning in 2004 until 2016, and its American counterpart Dancing with the Stars from 2005 until 2022.

He also ran a ballroom dance school in Dartford, Kent.

Len reportedly died aged 78 from bone cancer, on April 22. He had been in a hospice in Tunbridge Wells in Kent following a short illness.

Born in London, he moved to Blackfen when he was six years old. Len was one of three children, and the only child of the family to stay in the family business, while his other siblings all moved to Newcastle.

Len Goodman was an apprentice welder, and started dancing at the late age of 19, after his doctor recommended it as therapy for a foot injury.

He soon turned professional, and won various competitions over the years. He retired from dancing after winning the British Championships at Blackpool in his late 20s.

Len appeared as head judge on the dance competition Strictly Come Dancing from its inception in 2004 until 2016. He appeared on the panel alongside Arlene Phillips, Bruno Tonioli, Craig Revel Horwood, Alesha Dixon and Darcey Bussell.

He married his dancing partner, Cherry Kingston, but they later divorced. He had a long-term relationship with a woman named Lesley, and they had a son, James. He wrote that Lesley was the ex-wife of "a bloke called Wilf Pine who had managed the band Black Sabbath."

His son James moved with his mother aged 12, after his parents had broken up. By 2012, James had started Latin and ballroom dancing at his father's Goodman Dance Centre.

In 2012, Len Goodman married his companion of over 10 years, Sue Barrett, a 47-year-old dance teacher.

Goodman had been diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2009. which was treated surgically at a London hospital. In 2021, it was reported that he had undergone surgery for a small facial melanoma.