Len Goodman reveals he stepped down from Strictly because of his fear of dying soon

Updated: 

Strictly Come Dancing head judge Len Goodman has revealed he quit the show because he was worried he would not have spent enough time with his family before he dies.

The ballroom favourite shocked fans when he announced he will stand down following the live final on Saturday.

Len Goodman
Len Goodman (Ian West/PA)

He told The Sun: "Maybe I have got one or two years left in me being a judge, but it's the right time and I've had a wonderful 12 years.

"My father died when he was 79 and I'm 72. God willing I'll live to be 99, but there's always that chance that in six or seven years I could be brown bread.

"So I want to spend more time with my family as I've now got a granddaughter. I want to be able to do all these things."

Len Goodman and Natalie Lowe on Strictly
Len dancing with Natalie Lowe (Guy Levy/BBC/PA)

It has not yet been announced who will join Darcey Bussell, Bruno Tonioli and Craig Revel Horwood on the panel, although professional dancer Anton Du Beke is a hot favourite.

Len has charmed and delighted fans with his one-liners, but he initially thought the show could not succeed.

Strictly Come Dancing judges (Kieron McCarron/BBC/PA Images)
Strictly Come Dancing judges (Kieron McCarron/BBC/PA)

He said: "Before it started I said to my wife Sue, 'I can't see this working. Nobody's interested in ballroom dancing and most of the celebrities I've never heard of'. But they went in all guns blazing on a Saturday night, with Bruce Forsyth, my hero, hosting it and a big band.

"How the Head Judge thing came about, I don't know. But during the first show, after a couple of dances, Bruce said, 'Right, now we will turn to our judges and we'll start with our Head Judge, Len Goodman'.

Once a dancer... (Guy Levy/BBC/PA)
Once a dancer... (Guy Levy/BBC/PA)

"That was the first I'd heard that I was Head Judge -- and I don't get any more money for it!"

He added: "As much as I know it's the right time to leave I guarantee next year I'll be sitting with my wife watching it and I'll say I should have done one more.

"I'll be scoring them as well and sit back while having my spring rolls and just enjoy it for once.

It's a ten from Len
It's a 10 from Len (Guy Levy/BBC/PA)

"Strictly gave me everything, so I would never desert them because there was something better.

"It's a bit like playing cards, you've got to know when to hold them and when to fold them.

"I would much rather leave and people say, 'What a shame' than people think, 'Thank heavens, he's off now', you know?"

But it might not be the last we see of Len on the panel if there are charity or Christmas specials: "If they ask me it will be hard to turn down," he said.