Home Entertainment The touching sacrifice that Strictly’s Len Goodman made for his grandchildren

The touching sacrifice that Strictly’s Len Goodman made for his grandchildren

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The touching sacrifice that Len Goodman made for his grandchildren before his death has now been revealed. 

The news of Len’s death from bone cancer at age 78 shocked his legions of fans, who weren’t aware that he was ill.

Len was head judge on the much-loved BBC dance show Strictly Come Dancing from 2004-2016 but he also worked on Dancing With The Stars in the US from 2005 until 2022 as the head judge. 

When work got busy he decided that he could no longer do both versions of the dancing competition, revealing that he wanted to spend more time with his young granddaughter. 

He said when he left Strictly in 2016: ‘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’.

Sweet: The touching sacrifice that Len Goodman made for his grandchildren before his death has now been revealed (with his grandson, Jack)

Sweet: The touching sacrifice that Len Goodman made for his grandchildren before his death has now been revealed (with his grandson, Jack)

Tough: The news of Len's death from bone cancer at age 78 shocked his legions of fans, who weren't aware that he was ill

Tough: The news of Len’s death from bone cancer at age 78 shocked his legions of fans, who weren’t aware that he was ill

‘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’s first grandchild was Alice, who is the daughter of his only son James. He also has a grandson, Dan, who is four year’s younger than Alice.

‘Alice is so lovely, I can’t stop looking at her,’ said Len in 2016. ‘If I go off to America, I won’t see Alice.’

Speaking in May last year, Len said: ‘When you get to a certain age, you realise the most important thing is family. 

‘My son James and his wife Sophie are lovely, and I’ve got two wonderful grandchildren, Alice, seven, and Dan, three. They’re terrific.’

In addition, in November last year he announced he had decided to quit Dancing With The Stars so he could come back to the UK to spend more time with his family.

He said at the time: ‘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 had been in a hospice in Tunbridge Wells in Kent following a short illness.

He passed away on Saturday night – just six months into his retirement. He would have been 79 tomorrow.

Family: Len is pictured with his son James, whose mother was Len's first wife Cherry. Len's first grandchild was Alice, who is the daughter of  James. He also has a grandson, Dan, who is four year's younger than Alice

Family: Len is pictured with his son James, whose mother was Len’s first wife Cherry. Len’s first grandchild was Alice, who is the daughter of  James. He also has a grandson, Dan, who is four year’s younger than Alice

Iconic: Len was head judge on the much-loved BBC dance show Strictly Come Dancing from 2004-2016

Iconic: Len was head judge on the much-loved BBC dance show Strictly Come Dancing from 2004-2016 

A spokeswoman for Len told MailOnline: ‘I can confirm he died peacefully over the weekend surrounded by his family’, adding that he was ‘a much loved husband, father and grandfather who will be sorely missed by family, friends and all who knew him’.

The former head judge of Strictly Come Dancing from its launch in 2004 until 2016, Len was hugely popular with fans for his knowledge and wry humour.

He was a professional dancer and teacher who became a national treasure after auditioning for Strictly aged 60 – when most people are looking to retire.

As well as Strictly, he also appeared on the US version of the show, Dancing With the Stars from 2005 until November 2022, where he was last seen on TV, declaring he was retiring to spend more time with his wife Sue, and his grandchildren.

In December Len revealed how he spends his Saturday nights since retiring – shouting at the TV while watching Strictly and especially Craig Revel Horwood — or ‘bl**dy Craig’ as Len called him.

After retiring he told the Mail: ‘My dad had the right idea, too. 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.’

Strictly judge Craig Revel Horwood described Len Goodman as a ‘gorgeous colleague and dear friend’ in his moving tribute.

He tweeted: ‘I’ve just woken up to the sad news that my gorgeous colleague and dear friend Len Goodman has passed away. My heart and love go out to his lovely Sue and family. Len Goody Goodman is what I always called him and ‘It’s a ten from Len & seveeeeern’ will live with me forever. RIP Len’.

Strictly presenter Claudia Winkleman said judge Len Goodman was ‘full of twinkle, warmth and wit’. She tweeted: ‘I’m so sad about Len. He was one of a kind, a brilliant and kind man. Full of twinkle, warmth and wit. Sending all love to his family and friends. X’.

His death is being mourned by leading figures in showbiz, after a stellar career spanning six decades.

BBC director-general Tim Davie paid tribute to Len Goodman following his death aged 78. He said: ‘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. 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 Len Goodman, also paid tribute. He tweeted: ‘So sad to hear about the death of Len Goodman. He was an incredible man & an extraordinary talent. Loved making telly with him, being daft with him, playing golf with him & will never forget the little tips he would send every week on Strictly. All my love to his family.’

TV presenter Susanna Reid described Len Goodman as ‘a beautiful man’ after the former Strictly judge’s death.

She tweeted: ‘Oh this is such an awful shock and so sad. Len was an absolute legend & the definition of a proper gent.

‘He was a beautiful man with a huge sense of humour who had such a mischievous turn of phrase.

‘I’ll never forget ‘all bounce, bum & bongos’. My love to his family’.

Born in London, on 25 April 1944, he began his working life as an apprentice welder at Harland and Wolff in Woolwich, and wanted to be a footballer.

He only started dancing aged 20, after his doctor recommended it to help him recover from a foot injury.

He turned professional and enjoyed a successful competitive dancing career, which included winning Dual of the Giants, British Rising Stars, The British Exhibition Championships (four times) and the World Exhibition Championships in the early 1970s.

After retiring he founded the Goodman Dance Academy in Kent. He has been an examiner for the National Association of Teachers of Dance, a Fellow of the Imperial Society of Teachers of Dance, and an adjudicator for the World Dance Council.

His unrivalled knowledge of Latin and Ballroom, as well as his fondness for well-turned metaphors, made him a favourite with millions of Strictly fans in later years, where his trademark cry of ‘Seven!’ points is heard long after he left the programme.

Len made numerous TV and radio appearances in the UK and was also been a very successful presenter of several shows, as well as starring in the Strictly Live Tour for many years.

He produced many DVDs for the dance teaching industry as well as an instructional DVD for the general public called ‘Dance With Len Goodman’.

He published his autobiography ‘Better Late Than Never: From Barrow Boy to Ballroom’ in 2009, which was followed up by two other books, ‘Len’s Lost London’ and ‘Dancing Around Britain’.

Last November he announced on Dancing With The Stars that he would be hanging up his scoring paddle for the last time at the end of that series, telling viewers: ‘This will be my last season judging Dancing With the Stars.

‘I’ve been on 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 want to spend more time with my grandchildren and family back in Britain,’ Goodman added.’

Goodman was diagnosed with prostate cancer in March 2009, which was treated with surgery at a London hospital.

In September 2021 it was reported that he had undergone surgery the previous year for a small facial melanoma.

Previously Len had married his dancing partner, Cherry Kingston, but they were later divorced. He then had a long-term relationship with a woman named Lesley and they had a son, James.

He told the Mail last year that it still tickled him that he auditioned for Strictly on his 60th birthday, a time when most people would be thinking of retirement. He still had a mortgage and his dance school, he tells me, was making only a small profit.

Gone but never forgotten: He passed away on Saturday night - just six months into his retirement . He would have been 79 tomorrow

Gone but never forgotten: He passed away on Saturday night – just six months into his retirement . He would have been 79 tomorrow 

Funny: He said recently that he laughs every time he thinks of how he auditioned for Strictly on his 60th birthday, a time when most people would be thinking of retirement

Funny: He said recently that he laughs every time he thinks of how he auditioned for Strictly on his 60th birthday, a time when most people would be thinking of retirement

Meeting: Len is pictured with Camilla, the Queen Consort, during a celebratory tea dance at the Victory Services Club in London in 2019

Meeting: Len is pictured with Camilla, the Queen Consort, during a celebratory tea dance at the Victory Services Club in London in 2019

Then the great glitterball appeared from the sky, ‘and it changed my life’.

‘I remember coming home to [my wife] Sue saying: ‘They want to pay me £1,000 an episode and they will pick me up in a car, and take me home again.’

For 12 years, he ruled the helm of Strictly, then he was lured to the glossier, US version, Dancing With The Stars. It was an unlikely export, but he soon won them over.

‘Some of the things I came out with did confuse them [The Americans] a bit. I remember saying: ‘Give it some welly’, and they said ‘Willy? What’s a willy?’ But someone said to me, early doors: ‘Be yourself, and be honest’ and I’ve stuck to that, as much as you can.’

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