Strictly's Tess Daly and Claudia Winkleman 'in denial about Len Goodman's exit'

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Strictly Come Dancing presenters Tess Daly and Claudia Winkleman have not yet accepted that Len Goodman is leaving the BBC series.

This weekend's live final of the celebrity dancing programme will be Len's last stint as head judge, after appearing on the panel since its inception in 2004.

He will also appear in the pre-recorded Christmas special, which will air on Christmas Day.

Len Goodman
Len Goodman (Ian West/PA)

Strictly hosts Tess and Claudia appeared on companion show It Takes Two opposite Zoe Ball for the first time and confessed to being "in denial" over Len's impending exit.

Tess said: "We're in denial... I hang on his every word.

Claudia said: "I love him. And also when I was (hosting It Takes Two) we would do a masterclass, and I was chronically bad, and I would just weep. It was my favourite part of it.

Strictly Come Dancing
Strictly Come Dancing's judges (Kieron McCarron/BBC/PA)

"He's the king. I keep on thinking maybe it's a joke and I'm like, 'Len, see you in August?', and he goes 'No, I'm really not coming' and I'm like 'Yes, you will be'."

She added: "I think it will be horrible," while Tess said: "I can't imagine him not there."

Zoe said Len is "irreplaceable" and Tess agreed, saying: "He's the daddy of the panel."

Claudia Winkleman and Tess Daly
Claudia Winkleman and Tess Daly (Guy Levy/BBC/PA)

Tess, who - like Len - has appeared on the show since it began, and Claudia were full of praise for each other and said they have formed a "telepathic" bond over the years of working together.

Claudia has appeared as a co-host on Strictly since 2014 when she replaced previous presenter Sir Bruce Forsyth.

Tess said of Claudia: "She just makes me die laughing all the time."

Claudia said: "We have a proper laugh when we're doing rehearsals. We become like baboons, not in a bad way. We're telepathic. I look at (Tess) and I play with (her) hair."

Tess added: "We can say things when we're mic'd up telepathically that we can't say on the mic. We communicate that way."

Danny Mac, Ore Oduba and Louise Redknapp will take to the dancefloor with three routines each in order to compete for the glitterball trophy this weekend.

They will perform their favourite dance, the judges' choice, and a spectacular show dance in a bid to win the viewers' votes.

Fans will also be treated to group performances, musical moments and surprises as the series draws to a close.