Len Goodman: From Football to Dance, A Strictly Legend’s Journey of Passion and Legacy

Strictly is back on our screens, and viewers are thrilled, eagerly awaiting the next few months to watch the celebrity contestants grace the dancefloor with their moves.

Fond Memories of Len Goodman

Len Goodman, one of the original judges of the BBC show, departed from Strictly in 2016.

His recent passing at the age of 78 in April of this year after a battle with cancer left fans devastated, creating a significant void in the Strictly family.

On This Morning, Craig Revel Horwood, Len’s fellow panelist, expressed his heartache, describing Len as a “brilliant, brilliant man who brought ballroom back to the world.”

A Twist of Fate: From Football to Dance

Len’s journey into the world of dance had an unexpected beginning.

Raised in a family with no dancing background—his grandfather made a living selling fruits and vegetables—Len’s life took a turn at the age of 19 when a foot injury during a football game altered his course.

To aid in his foot’s recovery, his doctor suggested dancing.

Len vividly remembered his initial lessons, humorously recounting, “I had a face like a slapped arse, and it didn’t help either my image or my confidence that on my left foot I had a winkle-picker, and on my right foot, I had one of my dad’s carpet slippers.”

However, these early experiences ignited a lifelong passion for dance.

Rising to Stardom in the Dance World

Len quickly distinguished himself in dance lessons, diverging from his path to become a welder and embracing the allure of the ballroom.

He turned professional and began amassing trophies for his exceptional skills on the dancefloor.

In his late twenties, Len secured victory at the British Championships in Blackpool, a place that would later host numerous memorable episodes of Strictly.

The Birth of a Strictly Legend

When television executives conceived Strictly, Len was teaching dance in Kent.

In 2004, he assumed his role on the BBC show’s judging panel, which subsequently evolved into a television phenomenon.

Len became a beloved figure, known for his cheerful personality, exuberance, and catchphrases like “Seven!”

The following year, he expanded his judging role to include Dancing With The Stars (DWTS), the American counterpart of Strictly.

Len remained on Strictly until 2016, when Shirley Ballas took over as head judge, and his DWTS tenure extended until 2022.

Despite being regarded by many fans as the heart of both programs, Len humbly described himself as “a dance teacher from Dartford who got lucky.”

Love and Family

Len entered matrimony with his dance partner Cherry Kingston in 1972, but their union ended after 15 years.

Later, he enjoyed a long-lasting romance with a woman named Lesley, with whom he had a son named James.

In 2012, Len walked down the aisle once more, marrying Sue Barrett, a dance teacher he had been with for many years.

After departing from Strictly, Len reportedly purchased a village pub in Kent and expressed his desire to spend more time with family and indulge in his passion for golf.

He also frequently visited Los Angeles due to his ongoing involvement with DWTS.

Battling Health Challenges and a Surprising Prediction

Len’s health journey included a prostate cancer diagnosis in his sixties and the removal of a patch of melanoma from his face in 2020.

However, his passing in April, attributed to bone cancer, caught many fans off guard, as they were unaware of his illness.

It was later revealed that Len had seemingly foreseen his own passing.

In an interview with the Mail, he mentioned, “My dad had the right idea. He loved gardening, and he had a stroke while he was out in the garden.

“He was 79 so if I go the way of my dad, that’ll be next year.”

Tragically, Len passed away just a few days before what would have been his 79th birthday.

This narrative provides insight into Len Goodman’s remarkable journey from a young man with a foot injury to becoming a beloved figure in the world of dance, ultimately leaving an indelible mark on television through Strictly Come Dancing and Dancing With The Stars.

His enduring love for dance, humble demeanor, and courageous battle with health challenges have endeared him to fans worldwide, making his loss deeply felt.


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