Belfast Telegraph

Len Goodman backs his ‘terrific’ Strictly replacement Shirley Ballas

The Strictly favourite shared his views on the newcomer, and said he has no plans to retire.

New Strictly Come Dancing head judge Shirley Ballas has received a ’10 from Len’, as her predecessor Len Goodman gave his seal of approval.

Goodman, 73, stepped down from the BBC dancing programme in 2016 after being on the judging panel since it began in 2004.

He told ITV’s This Morning: “One thing is for sure – she knows her onions as far as ballroom and Latin is concerned. She is a former world champion, so she knows what she’s talking about, which is wonderful.”

Asked by hosts Rylan Clark-Neal and Alison Hammond if he is glad Ballas is taking over his role on the dancing programme, Goodman said: “Whoever the BBC picked I would have been happy with.

“I know lots of people have said ‘we’d never heard of her’, but nobody had heard of me when it started, nobody had heard of Bruno (Tonioli) or Craig (Revel Horwood).

“I’m sure she’s going to be terrific.”

Ballas, 56, was revealed to be taking over from Goodman in May, and she will start her Strictly career when the series returns this autumn.

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Shirley Ballas (BBC/PA)

Dubbed the Queen of Latin, Ballas has plenty of prestigious titles under her belt and she mentored three professionals from US series Dancing With The Stars – her son Mark Ballas, and American siblings Julianne and Derek Hough, to whom she was a guardian when they were sent to London as children to study with her.

Appearing on This Morning to discuss his new Saturday night gameshow, Partners in Rhyme, Goodman said he has no plans to retire.

“People assume because I wasn’t doing Strictly, that I had retired,” he said.

“You must never, ever retire, that’s my feeling. The joy of work is you get a day off. You say ‘ooh, I’ve got a few days off’.

“Once you retire, it’s all a day off isn’t it.”

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Len Goodman (Ian West/PA)

Hammond said that presenting his new family teatime show – which will see celebrity guests working with contestants to answer questions based on rhymes – would “keep the ticker working”.

Goodman replied: “It’s not University Challenge, but it is just a great Saturday evening.

“It’s a lot of fun, you can shout out your answers.”

Goodman’s Partners in Rhyme begins in August on BBC One.

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