Strictly stars say Len Goodman is king of the ballroom

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Strictly Come Dancing hosts Tess Daly and Claudia Winkleman have said head judge Len Goodman will be hugely missed now that he has retired from the show, calling him the "king" of the programme.

Len, 72, bowed out of the BBC One dance contest with the series finale on Saturday night, and his co-stars have paid tribute to his time on the show in a documentary about him due to air next week.

In the programme Strictly Len Goodman, Claudia said: "Len is the king of all things ballroom and he's basically the king of Strictly. I know we're supposed to be saying goodbye but I won't allow it, I don't know whether I should say that but no, he's not allowed to go."

Strictly
Tess and Claudia loved working with Len (BBC)

Len has starred in the contest since it began in 2004 and Claudia added: "He is a master, so everyone totally respects him, both on front of camera but also backstage.

"So if Len wanders down and goes, 'Yeah, it was a good lift,' everyone goes, 'Oh, Len liked it,' because he is unfailingly honest but also incredibly knowledgeable."

Tess said: "One of the great things about working on Strictly is that it genuinely is like a family atmosphere, people are happy to be there and it's a good vibe, everywhere you turn there's goodwill, and I think as far as Strictly is concerned, Len is the daddy.

Len Goodman
Thanks for the memories, Len (Ian West/PA)

"There's so many favourite Len moments, just working with him every week is such a treat, you know that little sparkle in his eye, that cheeky little glint he has.

"I love watching him dance when he comes on to the show at the beginning when we introduce him and he interacts with the audience, he's high-fiving them, he's gliding past them, jiving up a storm."

She added that only he could pull off some of his jokes: "I love all his Len-isms, what was the one that he said to (Countryfile presenter) Anita Rani after her Argentine Tango? 'That was like a cow pat on Countryfile, hot and steamy.' Only Len could get away with that."

:: Strictly Len Goodman airs next Friday at 7pm on BBC One.