Pickle my walnuts! How Len Goodman won our hearts as Strictly Come Dancing's head judge


Head judge Len Goodman has been synonymous with Strictly Come Dancing since it launched in 2004.

The 72-year-old ballroom dancing expert, who has served as head judge on the BBC show for over a decade, will be stepping down after the next series.

It's a ten from Len
It's a ten from Len (Guy Levy/BBC)

Goodman's famous catchphrases include "it's a 10 from Len", "pickle my walnuts" and "se-ven!".

In the US he is best-known for television dance programme Dancing With The Stars (DWTS), splitting his time between Los Angeles and London.

He stepped down as a DWTS judge for the 2015 series to spend more time with his family, but reversed his decision and decided to return a year later.

Bethnal Green-born Len started his career as an apprentice welder in Woolwich and was also a footballer.

Len Goodman
Len Goodman (Ian West/PA)

He began dancing at the age of 19 and went on to a successful professional dancing career, becoming a four-time British champion.

Aside from his television career, Len runs a ballroom dancing school, the Goodman Dance Centre, in Kent.

In recent years, the Strictly judge has turned to documentary-making, looking back on the history of dance as well as his own life.

Len Goodman as a Dancing With The Stars judge
Len Goodman as a Dancing With The Stars judge (Craig Sjodin/AP)

In 2013, he presented BBC Four programme Len Goodman's Dance Band Days and hosted Len Goodman's Perfect Christmas on BBC One.

He also presented the BBC Four show Dancing Cheek to Cheek alongside historian Lucy Worsley.

In Len and Ainsley's Big Food Adventure, he teamed up with former Strictly Come Dancing contestant Ainsley Harriott for a 10-part series about world cuisine in England and Wales.

Len Goodman
Len Goodman (Ian West/PA)

Len has been married twice, firstly to dancing partner Cherry Kingston and, in 2012, to his companion of over 10 years, dance teacher Sue Barrett.

He has one son, James Goodman.

James has followed in his father's footsteps, teaching Latin and ballroom at the Goodman Dance Centre.

Len Goodman dances with Strictly professional Natalie Lowe
Len Goodman dances with Strictly professional Natalie Lowe (Guy Levy/BBC)

The Strictly judge has spoken about his joy at becoming a grandfather last year to James's daughter, Alice.

Len was treated for prostate cancer in 2009 but did not take any time off from Strictly or DWTS.