Ballroom professional Derek Hough, a six-time "Dancing with the Stars" champion, is returning to the series after four years, this time as the competition's newest judge.
"Cats [sic] out of the bag," Hough, 35, wrote on social media Tuesday, shortly after ABC announced the appointment that morning. "Looking forward to being Back in the Ballroom. This show has and will always be incredibly special to me. This show has gifted me with so many memories and priceless experiences. Amazing relationships, growth, triumphs, failures, struggles, fears, celebrations, fun and just pure entertainment."
Added Hough, who earned two Emmy Awards plus seven additional nominations as a choreographer on the long-running show, which premieres its 29th season Monday, "I look forward to returning as a judge. I hope to be fair, fun, encouraging, honest, helpful, compassionate and I look forward to watching these amazing journeys unfold. See you soon. And good luck to all the competitors this season. Work Hard! Have Fun!"
In a statement released by ABC, Hough said, "Coming back feels like coming home and I couldn't be more excited to be back in the ballroom."
He joins series founding judges Carrie Ann Inaba and Bruno Tonioli. Fellow founding judge Len Goodman, 76, "will be unable to judge this season live in the ballroom," the network said, "though he will still be a part of the show in a different capacity sharing his ballroom expertise from London," where he lives when not in California for “DWTS." Hough's dancer-actress sister, Julianne Hough, herself a “DWTS" champ, had served as a judge in seasons 19 to 21. She has not commented publicly on her brother's new role.
Derek Hough danced for 17 seasons of "DWTS," from season 5 in 2007 to season 23 in 2016, with two seasons off. During that run, he took the mirrorball trophy with model-actress Brooke Burke, singer-dancer Nicole Scherzinger, actresses Jennifer Grey and Amber Riley, country-music singer Kellie Pickler and Animal Planet personality and Australia Zoo conservationist Bindi Irwin.
He additionally has been paired with actresses Jennie Garth, Shannon Elizabeth and Marilu Henner, actress and talk-show host Ricki Lake, rapper Lil' Kim, and Olympic gymnast Nastia Liukin, among others.
Other changes and additions for the upcoming season include new host Tyra Banks, succeeding founding host Tom Bergeron and his co-host for six years, Erin Andrews.
Hough has been a judge on NBC's "World of Dance" since its 2017 premiere. That reality-TV dance competition, which just wrapped up its fourth season, also features judges Jennifer Lopez and Ne-Yo.