Strictly Come Dancing pays touching tribute to Len Goodman in launch show
Strictly Come Dancing made a glamorous return on Saturday night as 15 celebrities met their professional dancing partners and took to the iconic BBC ballroom for the first time in front of the judges.
But there were high emotions on the show during a touching tribute to former legendary judge Len Goodman who sadly passed away from bone cancer in April at the age of 78.
His former colleagues and Strictly family paid a touching tribute to the late judge on the BBC dancing show by taking a look back at some of his "best bits" and played some heartfelt messages from the many members of the cast whose lives he touched.
"In April this year the undisputed king of ballroom Len Goodman sadly passed away," host Claudia Winkleman began. "He was part of Strictly Come Dancing from the very beginning, and he was crucial to the success of the show.
"He meant so much to all of us and we’d like to share some of our favourite memories of Len with you."
Fellow Strictly judge Craig Revel Horwood became emotional as he spoke highly of his friendship with Len, he said: "I don’t think I’ll meet anyone as funny," he remarked. "He was a person that really made other people smile.
"I just absolutely adored our little arguments and that’s sort of what bonded us and gave us a really fantastic friendship."
Describing Len Goodman as one of his best friends, Craig added: "I would love to say goodbye to him."
Strictly judge Anton Du Beke also recalled fond memories of Len, having worked with him for a number of years, he added: "He’d lived a life and he brought all that experience to the show," Du Beke said. "He would tell you you’d danced awfully, but in such a nice way you sort of didn’t mind.
"Len is somebody you would want to have as a friend and I was fortunate enough to have Len as a friend for many years.
"There’s a song by Matt Monro and the song is 'I’ll only miss him when I think of him, but I think of him every day.'"
Len was known for his famous line: "SEVEEEEN," and became a huge part of the BBC show family.
"Len was like a father figure for all of us, he was one of the warmest gentlemen," said one of the professional dancers. "He could light up a room - you felt a glow."
Len Goodman became a well-known face on Strictly Come Dancing when the series first aired back in 2003 as he joined the judging panel alongside Craig Revel Horwood, Arlene Phillips, and Bruno Tonioli.
The lstar also later joined the judging team on the US version, Dancing with the Stars. He stepped away from his judging time at Strictly in 2016 after concluding it was too much to juggle both shows.
Strictly Come Dancing’s launch show airs on BBC One tonight on Saturday September 16 at 6.35pm.
Get the latest celebrity gossip and telly news sent straight to your inbox. Sign up to our daily Showbiz newsletterhere.