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Strictly Come Dancing judge Len Goodman dies from bone cancer at Tunbridge Wells hospice

Former Strictly Come Dancing star Len Goodman has died from bone cancer.

The 78-year-old passed away Saturday night at a hospice in Tunbridge Wells.

Len Goodman was most known for being head judge on BBC's Strictly Come Dancing. Picture: Kirsty O’Connor/PA
Len Goodman was most known for being head judge on BBC's Strictly Come Dancing. Picture: Kirsty O’Connor/PA

A statement from his agent said: “It is with great sadness to announce that Len Goodman has passed away peacefully, aged 78.

“A much-loved husband, father and grandfather who will be sorely missed by family, friends and all who knew him.”

Goodman became a judge on Strictly in 2004 and his final appearance was on the 2016 Christmas Day special.

He announced his retirement from TV six months ago and would have celebrated his 79th birthday on Tuesday.

Not only was he known for his fancy footwork and being head judge on the hit BBC show, Len also ran The Goodman Dance Academy in Dartford.

He previously visited Age UK North West Kent's day centre in Northfleet to praise the work of the Silver Song Club, who had been nominated for a National Lottery Award.

Following his passing former students of his dance school said the Strictly Come Dancing judge was “a very encouraging teacher and so patient”.

Angela Greasby, 51, from Leysdown-on-Sea said Len Goodman’s disco dance classes on Thursday evenings in Dartford in the 1980s were “something I looked forward to every week”.

The customer experience adviser told PA: “The classes were always fun and I remember Len’s sense of humour.

“I still remember some of the dances nearly 40 years later.

Angela Greasby, who had disco dance classes at Goodman Dance Academy in the 1980s (Angela Greasby/PA)
Angela Greasby, who had disco dance classes at Goodman Dance Academy in the 1980s (Angela Greasby/PA)

“I was so pleased when he became a judge on Strictly. It made me feel even more part of it.

“It was a shock when I heard this morning that he had passed away. It certainly feels like an end of an era.”

Dartford MP Gareth Johnson also paid tribute. He said: “It is such a sad loss to Dartford. I met Len Goodman several times and had lengthy conversations with him during lockdown when he was understandably concerned when dance halls could re-open.

“I always found him a thorough gentleman, the same off camera as on.

“Like thousands of Dartfordians, I went to ‘Goodmans’ opposite the park, for nights out during the 1980s and he was such an integral part of our town.

“It’s a very sad day for Dartford, we have lost one of our most popular Dartfordians.”

The village of Ightham, near Sevenoaks, where Mr Goodman resided
The village of Ightham, near Sevenoaks, where Mr Goodman resided

Len lived in the village of Ightham, near Sevenoaks – buying a Grade II-listed village pub, called The Chequers Inn and converting it into his home.

Neighbour Nicholas Montebello-Ealey says that the ballroom dancer was “always willing to engage in conversation” with the local residents.

“When he was around and we did see him, he was very friendly, talkative and chatty,” he said.

“He was just like another quiet neighbour – quite lowkey and just a nice, approachable chap.

“We used to bump into him walking past his house, and that was the only few times we actually saw him.”

He had transformed a Grade II-listed pub into his home
He had transformed a Grade II-listed pub into his home

“We had no idea that he was unwell,” he added. “My wife told me and I was surprised.

“For someone who was that fit and 78 isn’t that old really – so it was still a bit of a surprise.”

Resident Mary Allwood remembers Mr Goodman always waving as he walked past and would want to get involved with the village.

She said: “He was very helpful when anybody asked him to support anything and very willing to do it.”

“I have always been a Strictly fan, I suppose a lot of people are!”

Celebrities have also paid tribute to him, with former Strictly pro James Jordan saying: “OMG I just saw the news about Len Goodman dying I’m actually devastated - what an amazing man that was always lovely to me and Ola all our years of knowing him.

“He is a Strictly Legend! RIP my old friend My thoughts are with all of his family at this difficult time.”

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