It feels a little odd to be writing a eulogy post for Len Goodman’s time on Strictly. Partly because he’s going to be working off a longer notice period than a nightshift worker, including all of the next series and probably the next tour as well. *If no longer interested in BREXIT humour, please skip the next two lines* : (The only departure process that’s planned to take longer is the United Kingdom leaving the European Union! And that’ll probably involve fewer dependent parts dropping off.)
Anyway, the other main reason it feels odd is that around here Len Goodman always enjoyed about the same level of popularity as Southern Rail or Liam Fox in a Tory leadership contest. Generally historically his vote in the end-of-series poll for favourite judge has hovered around 5% or lower, and one year he got beaten by Donny Osmond. Who appeared in one episode and was awful. One of the first running jokes of this blog was preceding Len’s name with an expletive, and not one of the cuter ones, and your narrator never quite got over how he spoke to Colin Jackson way back in Series 3.
Still, Len is undeniably part of Strictly, and has been since the very beginning, having missed only one episode ever, when his boots were ably filled by Jennifer Grey. Only Bruno and Craig have been a more consistan part of the line up of faces that have greeted the public every Saturday night in the winter. For a large part of the population, probably the same part that loved Bruce, loves Anton, writes letters into the Radio Times every time a male celebrity doesn’t wear tails, thought Alesha’s grammar was disgraceful, and will very definitely boycott the tv licence if they ever have a same-sex couple complete, Len is probably the very heart of Strictly. Or at least the pancreas. And to be fair, Len does serve a purpose. He’s the only judge to have real in depth knowledge of the ins and outs of ballroom and latin, lending the show an air of respectability and validity. Which Len then promptly farts right through by yelling about his walnuts/knicker elastic/bum in TESCOs, and/or producing critiques entirely consisting of the name of the song just danced to ham-fisted stitched between two other awful jokes like some sort of arhythmical Frankenstein’s Monster of puns. Still the air is enough, enough for people not to notice when they’ve sat through an entire finale featuring no traditional ballroom dances whatsoever, and still kid themselves this is a show about learning to dance proper like they did in the old times.
And now he’s gone. Off to America, to enjoy the sun, judge Dancing With The Stars, and occasionally phone in segments for Radio 2 documentaries about big band, leaving a vacancy on the judging panel. And as such…a poll! Who would you like to fill Len’s empty chair? I’ve stuck to feasible options, because I’m not a bookmaker who’s thirsty for attention, pretending it’s likely to be Alesha again.