Len Goodman is leaving Dancing With the Stars after 31 seasons. The head judge made the heartbreaking announcement during the Nov. 14 episode of the series while looking ahead to next week’s season finale. “This will be my last season judging ‘Dancing With the Stars,'” Len, 78, said on Monday’s show.
“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.” He continued, “It’s been such a wonderful experience for me and look forward so much to next week’s finale. I’m sure it’s going to be absolutely brilliant.”
Len’s fellow judges Carrie Ann Inaba, Bruno Tonioli and Derek Hough all got emotional during the surprising announcement — they even shed some tears. And honestly, we can’t really blame them. Len will be sorely missed.
Not only did he start as a head judge, alongside Carrie Ann and Bruno, on Dancing With The Stars when it premiered in 2005, but Len also served as a head judge on BBC One’s dance competition Strictly Come Dancing from 2004 until 2016. And the only season of DWTS that he didn’t appear in was Season 21, but that was because he had scheduling and family commitments. He had a limited role in Season 29 because he did not travel to the U.S. amid the COVID-19 pandemic, but he still produced short segments for the show, and Derek Hough sat in as a judge for him. When Len returned in Season 30, the three-judge format expanded to four so Derek could stay on the panel. At this time, it’s not yet clear if Disney+ will look to fill Len’s vacant seat or go back to its three-judge format with Derek, Carrie Ann and Bruno.