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Leonard Gordon Goodman (born 25 April 1944)[1] is an English professional ballroom dancer, dance judge, and coach.

Len Goodman
Len Goodman 1.JPG
Goodman in 2007
Leonard Gordon Goodman

(1944-04-25) 25 April 1944 (age 75)
Bethnal Green, London, England
Dance teacher and adjudicator
Years active1967–present
Notable work
Dancing with the Stars US (2005–)
Strictly Come Dancing (2004–16)
Holiday of My Lifetime (2014–)
Partners in Rhyme (2017)
Cherry Kingston
(m. 1972; div. 1987)

Sue Barrett (m. 2012)

He has appeared as head judge on the television dance programmes Strictly Come Dancing, a programme where various celebs each partnered with professional dancers compete for the glitter ball trophy, from its beginning in 2004 until 2016 and Dancing with the Stars since 2005. He also runs a ballroom dance school in Dartford, Kent.[2]

Early lifeEdit

Goodman was born in Bethnal Green, London. His birth was registered in Bromley, Kent,[3][4] the son of Leonard Gordon Goodman, an electrician, and Louisa Adelaide (née Eldridge).[5][6] One of his maternal great-great-grandfathers was a Polish immigrant.[7]

Goodman moved to Blackfen when he was six years old and attended Westwood Secondary Modern School where he was a member of the cricket team.[8]


Goodman started dancing at the age of 19, after a short time as an apprentice welder for Harland and Wolff in Woolwich.

Goodman turned professional, won various competitions, and retired from dancing after winning the British Championships at Blackpool in his late twenties.[4] Goodman is a recipient of the Carl Alan Award, in recognition of outstanding contributions to dance and, in 2006 and 2007, a show in which he appeared was nominated for the Emmy Award in the Outstanding Reality/Competition Program category.[1]

Strictly Come DancingEdit

Since Strictly Come Dancing began in the UK in 2004, Goodman has appeared as head judge on the dance competition for BBC One, in all series of the show and until the 2016 series, Goodman appeared on the panel with Darcey Bussell, Bruno Tonioli, and Craig Revel Horwood. However, in July 2016, Goodman announced he would be leaving the show at the end of that year's series. His final appearance was on the Christmas Day Special. On 9 May 2017, it was announced that Shirley Ballas would succeed Goodman as head judge.[9]

Dancing with the StarsEdit

Goodman has been the head judge on Strictly Come Dancing's American adaptation, Dancing with the Stars, appearing in all seasons of the program since 2005 with Carrie Ann Inaba, Bruno Tonioli, and, since 2014, Julianne Hough. He left the show for season 21,[10] but returned the following season.[11]

Other television workEdit

From 30 March to 9 April 2012, Goodman hosted a three-part BBC One documentary that was broadcast in the United States by PBS for the 100th anniversary of the voyage and sinking of the RMS Titanic. It capitalised on his experience as a welder at Harland and Wolff.[12] Goodman interviewed descendants of survivors and introduced viewers to memorials and significant sites in the United Kingdom.

In 2005, he voiced Professor in the five-time winning Emmy award children's program, Auto-B-Good.[13]

Len Goodman on the cover of Dartford Living, October 2008

In 2013, Goodman presented the BBC Four programme Len Goodman's Dance Band Days. He also hosted Len Goodman's Perfect Christmas on Boxing Day on BBC One.

In August 2014, Goodman was one of a number of well known faces taking part in ITV's two-part documentary series Secrets from the Clink.[14][15]

In November and December 2013, Goodman and Lucy Worsley presented the BBC Four three-part show Dancing Cheek to Cheek.[16]

In October 2014, Goodman hosted BBC One show Holiday of My Lifetime. The show returned for a second series in February 2016, where he was featured with Dan Walker, Carol Kirkwood, and many more[17] In November 2015, Len and chef Ainsley Harriott presented the BBC show Len and Ainsley's Big Food Adventure, a 10-part series exploring world cuisine in England and Wales.

In 2017, Goodman presented a family game show called Partners in Rhyme, based on Matt Edmondson's game, Obama Llama.[18]


Between 2013 and 2018, Goodman presented a Sunday evening music show on BBC Radio 2 during Paul O'Grady's weeks off. Goodman played music that he grew up with, mostly of an easy nature together with spoken memories of his young life and family.[citation needed]

Other workEdit

In 2006, he appeared on an all singing/dancing version of The Weakest Link and beat Stacey Haynes in the final to win the prize money of £8050 for charity.[19]

Personal lifeEdit

Goodman married his dancing partner Cherry Kingston [20] but they were later divorced.[21] He then had a long-term relationship with a woman named Lesley who, he wrote, "decided to give up nursing and live with me and help me run the dance school – which was great, because she was full of ideas. Things rolled along pretty nicely for a year until out of the blue Lesley dropped a bombshell. She was pregnant!"[21] Goodman was 36 at this time. Lesley, he wrote, was the ex-wife of "a bloke called Wilf Pine who had managed the band Black Sabbath. Lesley and Wilf got married in Connecticut...."[22]

Goodman and Lesley's son, James William Goodman, was born 26 January 1981, but at the age of 12 moved with his mother back to her native Isle of Wight after Lesley and Goodman broke up.[21] As of 2012, James teaches Latin and ballroom dancing at his father's Goodman Dance Centre.[23]

On 30 December 2012, Goodman married his companion of over ten years, Sue Barrett, a 47-year-old dance teacher, in a small ceremony at a London dining club Mosimann's.[24]

Goodman is a West Ham United fan and was featured on the BBC football show Football Focus on 26 September 2009.[25] He is also a keen cricket fan, and, in 2009, took part in a celebrity Ashes cricket game.[26]

Goodman was diagnosed with prostate cancer in March 2009,[27] which was treated surgically at a London hospital.

In October 2011, Goodman appeared on the BBC's Who Do You Think You Are?,[28] in which he discovered that one of his maternal ancestors was a silk-weaver who died a pauper in the Bethnal Green workhouse. Goodman's great great grandfather, Josef/Joseph Sosnowski,[29] came from Poland, where he fought in the anti-tsarist November uprising[30] for which he was awarded Virtuti Militari, Poland's highest military decoration for heroism and courage.[31] After finding out about his ancestry, Goodman said: "I feel no different, I look no different, I am no different and yet I’m not what I thought I was. I thought that I was truly an Anglo-Saxon, English through and through."[29]



  • Smith, Rupert (2005), Strictly Come Dancing; dance consultant: Len Goodman. London: BBC Books ISBN 0-563-52293-3


  1. ^ a b "Len Goodman". TV Guide. Archived from the original on 6 September 2015. Retrieved 25 November 2015.
  2. ^ Graham, Natalie (4 December 2005). "Dancer takes steps to clear home loan". The Times. London. Archived from the original on 14 March 2007. Retrieved 6 August 2008.
  3. ^ "Join Ancestry".
  4. ^ a b Wignall, Alice (5 December 2006). "Dancing was what the doctor ordered for Len Goodman". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 6 August 2008.
  5. ^ Goodman, Len (25 August 2008). "I'm no goody two shoes: Len Goodman reveals his colourful life from his barrow-boy roots to judging the stars' dance moves". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 1 April 2009.
  6. ^ "Start building your family tree today".
  7. ^ "Featured Articles – Len Goodman". TheGenealogist. Retrieved 28 June 2012.
  8. ^ Len Goodman (3 September 2009). Better late Than Never: From Barrow Boy to Ballroom. Ebury Press. ISBN 0-09-1928036.
  9. ^ Dibdin, Emma (17 June 2016). "Strictly Come Dancing judge Len Goodman will leave the show after the next series". Digital Spy. Retrieved 14 July 2016.
  10. ^ "Len Goodman Leaving Dancing with the Stars". People. 19 August 2015. Retrieved 19 August 2015.
  11. ^ Gomez, Patrick. "Julianne Hough Not Returning as Dancing with the Stars Judge as Len Goodman Returns". People. Retrieved 1 March 2016.
  12. ^ "Titanic with Len Goodman". PBS. 10 May 2012. Retrieved 28 June 2012.
  13. ^ Auto-B-Good, retrieved 7 July 2019
  14. ^ "Watch! Secrets from the Clink teaser". Raidió Teilifís Éireann. 5 August 2014.
  15. ^ "Secrets from The Clink Episode 1". 6 August 2014. Retrieved 14 July 2016.
  16. ^ "BBC Four – Dancing Cheek to Cheek: An Intimate History of Dance". BBC.
  17. ^ "BBC One – Holiday of My Lifetime with Len Goodman". BBC.
  18. ^ "BBC – Len Goodman to host new family game show on BBC One – Media Centre". BBC.
  19. ^ James Booker, Weakest Link all singing all Dancing 2006, retrieved 4 June 2017
  20. ^ Goodman, Len (25 August 2008). "I'm no goody two shoes: Len Goodman reveals his colourful life from his barrow-boy roots to judging the stars' dance moves". UK: Excerpted autobiography, Better Late Than Never (Ebury, 2008), part 1, in Daily Mail. Retrieved 31 December 2012. Henry Kingston ... was a former world champion dancer and a top coach. ... One day, Henry asked if I'd like to partner his teenage daughter, Cherry, and train for some competitions. Italic or bold markup not allowed in: |publisher= (help)
  21. ^ a b c Goodman, autobiography excerpt, part two, 29 August 2008. Retrieved 1 April 2009.
  22. ^ Goodman, Len (2008). Better Late Than Never: My Story. Ebury Press. p. 243. ISBN 978-0091928025.
  23. ^ "Biography". James Goodman Dance (official site). Retrieved 31 December 2012.
  24. ^ "Len Goodman: Strictly Come Dancing judge, 68, marries long-term girlfriend". The Daily Telegraph. UK. 31 December 2012. Retrieved 31 December 2012.
  25. ^ BBC SPORT | Football | Football Focus | It's strictly West Ham for Len Goodman. BBC News (26 September 2009). Retrieved 23 October 2011.
  26. ^ "Len Goodman plays cricket!".
  27. ^ Heldman, Breanne L. (29 June 2009). "Dancing With the Stars' Len Goodman Tangos With Cancer". E!. Retrieved 5 November 2010.
  28. ^ "Strictly judge Len Goodman's ancestors died in the workhouse". The Daily Telegraph. London. 2 March 2011.
  29. ^ a b "Len Goodman The Strictly judge explores his East End and Polish roots".
  30. ^ "Grudziądz. Telewizja BBC kręciła film w Cytadeli". Gazeta Pomorska. Bydgoszcz, Poland. 9 March 2011.
  31. ^ Len Goodman at BBC. Retrieved 23 October 2011.
  32. ^ "Strictly Len Goodman – BBC One". BBC.

External linksEdit