Len Goodman, the former head judge on the reality-competition program Dancing With the Stars, died April 22. He was 78. Goodman’s agent confirmed the news to Deadline, saying he “died peacefully, surrounded by his family” in a hospital. The professional ballroom dancer and British champion had been diagnosed with bone cancer. Born in London in 1944, Goodman began dancing at the age of 19, according to his website. His win at the British Championships in Blackpool in his late 20s cemented him as one of the top figures in ballroom dance. Mainstream fame arrived in 2004, when the Carl Alan Award recipient stepped into the role as head judge on BBC’s hit series Strictly Come Dancing for 12 years, the British antecedent of the ballroom reality show in which famous contestants are paired with professional dancers. A year later, Goodman agreed to serve as head judge on Dancing With the Stars for its premiere season, a position which had him crossing the Atlantic weekly to serve both duties. He left the latter series after 17 years and 31 seasons in November “with a touch of sadness,” per the announcement. Outside of DWTS, Goodman hosted multiple BBC programs including Titanic With Len Goodman, Dancing Cheek to Cheek, and Len and Ainsley’s Big Food Adventure.
“Len Goodman was a wonderful, warm entertainer who was adored by millions,” BBC director general Tim Davie said in a statement. “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.”