Dancing with the Stars Head Judge Len Goodman Is Retiring

Len Goodman says goodbye to him Dancing with the stars.


The 78-year-old is officially retiring from her role as head judge on the Disney+ dance competition series, PEOPLE can exclusively confirm. Goodman also shared the news during Monday’s episode DWTSduring that time he was surprised by the crowd.

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“To do a live show you have to be at the top of your game and be quick to react. And as one gets older, things start to get more difficult,” he tells PEOPLE. “I haven’t slept or started shaking yet at the show, so I thought I’d better get going before I start!”

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“I will miss the California sunshine, working with the other judges and the camaraderie with everyone in the game,” he adds. “I’m going to miss seeing celebrities grow up to be dancers and I’m going to miss being a part of some of the most successful shows on TV.”

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Goodman, a professional ballroom dancer from England, entered first DWTS as the head judge during the first season of the show in 2005. He was joined by Carrie Ann Inaba and Bruno Tonioli, who continued to serve on the panel of judges for all 31 seasons.


Len Goodman on DWTS.
Adam Taylor/ABC via Getty

At the time of the show’s debut, Goodman was serving as the head judge Come hard, British version of DWTS. Since the show was already doing well, Goodman remembers thinking DWTS it would also be a hit, but not everyone was on board with the idea.


“I always had a feeling it would be a hit as whatever was popular in Britain on TV at the time was good here and vice versa, and Straight Come Dancing “It was already too big,” he said. “However, most Americans were convinced that no one would be interested in watching ballroom dancing and that it would be a flop. How wrong they were!


DWTS he finally became a hit, airing on ABC for 30 times, before the recent change to Disney + season 31. Goodman served as the first judge for 20 years before taking a break for season 21. He returned to judge season 22-28, before. taking a break again in season 29. He then returned for season 30 until his retirement.


During this time, Inaba and Tonioli have served as referees in all 31 seasons. The trio has been joined by Derek Hough, and his sister Julianne Hough has also served as a judge on several occasions.




Over the years, there have been some memorable moments – but Goodman has a few standouts among the rest.


“George Hamilton did the Paso Doble as Zorro, the Gay Bladewith Jerry Springer hoping to stay long enough to learn the waltz and dance for his daughter’s spring wedding in mind as soon as I think back,” he shares. Chubby Checker, live on the show. That was fun, as he was my rock and roll hero.”


“When I danced the Viennese Waltz – albeit briefly – with Derek Hough’s famous partner, Nastia Liukin,” he continues. “Dancing to a song sung live in the studio by Leela James [“Fall For You”] brought back happy memories of my previous dance.


“Meeting some of the great artists who performed on the show like Neil Diamond, Barry Manilow, Stevie Wonder, Etta James, Rod Stewart, Gladys Knight, to name a few… the show or were watching in the audience, from the world of baseball, football, boxing, skating, racing cars , and ice skating,” he adds. “I had so much fun recording ‘Dance Center’ for a few years with Kenny Mayne and Jerry Rice. It always took twice as long as it should have to record because we were always laughing so hard!”


Len Goodman on DWTS with Carrie Ann Inaba and Bruno Tonioli.
ABC / Eric McCandless

What people have had the greatest impact on him?


“I am always, and probably all the viewers over the years, impressed and inspired by those who had to overcome their physical disabilities to dance. Amy Purdy, JR Martinez to name just a couple – but there have been countless others,” he explains. “Football players The Americans have always impressed me with how good they are – a mystery given their size. Although boxers are light on their feet and very quick, they have historically been poor dancers in comparison.”


But it’s the professional dancers who are believed to be the “unsung heroes” on this list. “They’ve impressed me year after year with their hard work and dedication to their craft. How they’ve been able to take a non-dancer and turn it into a show is beyond me. They all definitely get a ’10 from Len!'” he says.


While judging a host of celebrities across the board, Goodman says there is one person he wishes he could have seen competing on the show: “Simon Cowell because we judges could give him a dose of his medicine! Or Donald Trump, as I’d like to see him in Lycra.”


Reflecting on the future of the series, Goodman says he’s not sure who will step into his role – but he’s confident only good things are to come.


“[Who takes over as head judge] It is not for me to decide, but any other judge present would make a great judge and who knows – maybe a 4th judge will be appointed to replace me, he said. to be flexible to watch DWTS on Disney + will enable the show to expand its audience.


Len Goodman on Dancing with the Stars.
Eric McCandless/ABC



Looking ahead, Goodman says she’s excited to enjoy family time and revisit the memories that come DWTS‘past.


“Retirement looks like more time to be with family and friends and enjoy the grandchildren while they’re young and don’t answer to me!” you are joking. “In those 31 seasons, there was great dancing, and part of my retirement will be digging through the DVDs I’ve been lucky enough to find over the years and reminiscing about the great games of the past – the good, the bad. and evil.”


In the end, you’re grateful for the experience — and you want others to know that, too.


“I’m sure there are a lot of people who are happy that I’m leaving but I hope there will be some who are sad,” he said. “I’ve been incredibly lucky and I can’t thank everyone enough who has helped me along the way. A big shout out to hair, make-up, wardrobe, and all the crew who played their part in making it. Dancing with the Stars a great achievement – it was truly a great experience to be a part of. Hasta la vista baby!”


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Dancing with the stars airs Mondays at 8 pm ET on Disney+.

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