Len Goodman, a founding judge of the long-running TV ballroom competition "Dancing with the Stars," has announced he is retiring after 17 years and 31 seasons with the show.
"Whilst we're all getting excited and looking forward so much to the finale next week," said the London-born dance teacher and former dance champion, 78, midway though Monday's semifinals episode, "it would also be with a touch of sadness as this will be my last season judging on ‘Dancing with the Stars.' "
He added, "I’ve been with the show since it started in 2005" on ABC before switching to the streaming service Disney+ this year, "and it has been a huge pleasure to be a part of such a wonderful show. But I’ve decided I'd like to spend more time with my grandchildren and family back in Britain." There he had concurrently judged on the global franchise original, "Strictly Come Dancing," from 2004 to 2016.
Amid applause, Goodman, who skipped seasons 21 and 29 of "DWTS," went on to say, "I could not thank you enough, the 'Dancing with the Stars' family. It's been such a wonderful experience for me and I'm looking forward so much to next week’s finale. I’m sure it’s going to be absolutely brilliant.”
As fellow judges Derek Hough, Carrie Ann Inaba and Bruno Tonioli hugged him, Inaba visibly tearful, host Tyra Banks told Goodman, "Everyone is on their feet for you, giving you the standing ovation that you deserve."
Addressing the audience, she called Goodman "a living legend," and noted that many of the ballroom professionals who are paired with celebrities on the competition series "grew up watching Len on this show. Some of our pros have even been judged by Len in competitions when they were just kids," mentioning Hough, Mark Ballas and Val Chmerkovskiy specifically.