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Len Goodman to quit Strictly Come Dancing

Published 13/07/2016

Strictly Come Dancing head judge Len Goodman is to step down after the next series, the BBC has announced.

The 72-year-old has led the judging panel since the show started 12 years ago.

He will be joined by fellow judges Darcey Bussell, Bruno Tonioli and Craig Revel Horwood for his final series, as well as presenters Tess Daly and Claudia Winkleman.

Goodman will not be retiring and will continue his shows on Radio Two.

He said: " In 2004, I was asked to take part in a brand new BBC Saturday night show and who would have thought me, old Len Goodman, would still be part of this amazing series more than 10 years on?

"This adventure began when I was 60 and now that I've reached my 70s, I've decided after this year it's time to hand the role of head judge to someone else.

"It is an honour being part of the wonderful Strictly Come Dancing family and I'm looking forward to my last series very much and to whatever comes next."

The BBC said it was too early to comment on any speculation about who would replace Goodman for the 2017 series.

Charlotte Moore, director of content at BBC, said: "After 12 years, our wonderful head judge Len has decided it's time to hang up his Strictly Come Dancing shoes!

"I know we are all going to miss him tremendously, but I also know Len's final series is going to be full of unmissable moments and I hope audiences will give him the special send-off he so deserves."

Louise Rainbow, executive producer of Strictly Come Dancing, said: "We are absolutely delighted that Tess, Claudia and our judges are all returning for another year. Whilst we will be sad to say goodbye to Len, as our way of saying thank you, we are all determined to make this series the most spectacular, most glittery and entertaining yet."

The show will return to BBC One this autumn.

Goodman, who has also served as a judge on the American version of the show, Dancing With The Stars, announced he was leaving the US production in 2015 due to his schedule on Strictly and the birth of his grandchild.

However, after a series away, he returned to the panel, alongside Tonioli, Julianne Hough and Carrie Ann Inaba.

The new series of Strictly will see a raft of new professional dancers joining the line-up after the departures of Gleb Savchenko, Aliona Vilani, Ola Jordan, Kristina Rihanoff and Tristan MacManus.

They will be replaced by Russian Katya Jones, a world champion, Ukrainian champion Oksana Platero and top Spanish dance professional Gorka Marquez, the BBC said.

They will join returning dancers Anton Du Beke, Brendan Cole, Kevin Clifton, Pasha Kovalev, Aljaz Skorjanec, Giovanni Pernice, Karen Clifton, Natalie Lowe, Joanne Clifton, Janette Manrara and Oti Mabuse.

Outgoing Prime Minister David Cameron was quickly suggested as a successor to Goodman on the judging panel.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn used Prime Minister's Questions to ask Mr Cameron if it was deliberate that his departure coincided with Goodman's announcement.

Mr Corbyn said: " There's a rumour going around that your departure has been carefully choreographed so you can slip seamlessly into the vacancy created this morning on Strictly by Len Goodman's departure.

"Is that your next career?"

Mr Cameron did not answer either way but William Hill are currently offering 5000/1 odds on the politician joining the panel.

Joe Crilly, a spokesman for the bookmaker, said: " Cameron is currently the same price to join the 2017 Strictly judging panel as Leicester were to win the 2016 Premier League so while there is seemingly no chance, stranger things have happened."

Scott Mills, who appeared on Strictly Come Dancing in 2014, said Goodman would always have a special place in his heart.

The radio host and his partner Joanne Clifton left after the dance off in week six, but Goodman said he would have voted to save him.

The head judge said: "I thought they were both so much fun."

Mills told the Press Association: " Len's been an awesome judge, he was so nice to me when I was on Strictly, even when I was dressed as a crab and my dancing was really bad.

"He was the only one who didn't vote me off, so he'll always have a special place in my heart.

"I'm going to miss Uncle Len, he gets more than a SEVAAAN from me!"

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