Strictly fans ‘sobbing’ as judges pay tribute to Len Goodman with emotional speeches

Strictly fans ‘sobbing’ as judges pay tribute to Len Goodman with emotional speeches

September 18, 2023

Strictly Come Dancing viewers were left 'sobbing' during Saturday night's launch show, as stars of the BBC show paid tribute to the late Len Goodman.

Professional dancer Len, who was Strictly's head judge from 2004 until 2016, sadly passed away at the age of 78 in April after battling bone cancer. The first show of Strictly's 2023 series aired on 16 September and a touching tribute to Len was aired, with judges Craig Revel Horwood and Anton Du Beke both sharing emotional messages about their late friend. "If you asked me a question 'was Len one of your best friends?' I'd say 'absolutely'. I would love to say goodbye," said Craig.

Anton added: "Len is someone you'd want as a friend and I was fortunate to have Len as a friend for many years. There's a song by Matt Monroe and it's I'll Only Miss Him When I Think of Him, but I miss him every day." Host Claudia Winkleman also featured in the tribute, saying: “He was perfect in every way. Len could light up a room so when you were with him you felt aglow. He would say pickle my walnuts, he was funny, you wanted to watch him.”

TV viewers were reduced to tears after watching the sweet tribute, with dozens taking to social media to share their thoughts. "Look how loved Len was just a massive part of #Strictly sobbing here," one fan said, while a second wrote: "god not the len goodman tribute im about to start sobbing my eyes out #Strictly #StrictlyComeDancing".

A third person wrote: "Choked watching the Len Goodman…#Strictly #Severn," and fourth person wrote: "Craig and Anton talking about Len has me sobbing my contacts out."

"It’s not even week 1 and I’m blubbing already. Lovely tribute to Len Goodman. Saturday nights sorted for the next few months," another wrote.

Elsewhere in the show, the new season kicked off with a dramatic performance from the professional dancers to Rhythm Is A Dancer from group Snap! The first show opened with hosts Tess Daly and Claudia Winkleman welcoming returning judges Shirley Ballas, Craig Revel Horwood, Motsi Mabuse and Anton Du Beke.

“We are back,” Tess said.

The pre-recorded launch show saw the 15 celebrity contestants find out the professional partner that they would be training and performing with on the show. The Strictly professional dancers and the judges performed a dance in honour of their “Welsh dragon” Amy Dowden.

The 33-year-old announced in June that she had undergone a mastectomy after discovering she had stage three breast cancer, and would be unable to have a celebrity partner on the show this year.

Tess said: “We are of course missing one of our professional dancers, our gorgeous Amy Dowden is unwell and she can’t be with us for the start of the series. She’s our Welsh dragon and we know she’ll be back soon.” While Claudia Winkleman said: “Amy, from your entire Strictly family we are sending all our love and we can’t wait to have you back on the dancefloor.”

The group number saw judges Shirley, Craig , Motsi Mabuse and Anton perform along with the professionals to a medley of songs including Afraid To Feel from LF System, Kylie’s Padam Padam and Higher from Michael Buble.

EastEnders actor Bobby Brazier was partnered with Dianne Buswell. Dianne met Bobby, who plays Freddie Slater on the BBC soap, on the set of EastEnders. Casualty star Nigel Harman was paired with Katya Jones, Layton Williams with Nikita Kuzmin and Angela Rippon with Kai Widdrington.

Former Coronation Street star Ellie Leach was partnered with Vito Coppola, while tennis star Annabel Croft with Johannes Radebe.

Annabel said it was “incredible” to be paired with Johannes, and said she wished that the dancer could have met her late husband Mel Coleman.

Comedian Eddie Kadi was partnered with Karen Hauer, while Waterloo Road star Adam Thomas was teamed with Luba Mushtuk.

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