Leonard Gordon Goodman was an English professional ballroom dancer, dance teacher, and dance competition adjudicator. He appeared as head judge on the UK television programme Strictly Come Dancing, where various celebrities compete for the glitter ball trophy, from its beginning in 2004 until 2016 and on the U.S. television programme Dancing with the Stars from 2005 until 2022. He also ran a ballroom dance school in Dartford, Kent.
Goodman was an apprentice welder for Harland and Wolff in Woolwich. He started dancing at the late age of 19, after his doctor recommended it as therapy for a foot injury.
Goodman turned professional, won various competitions, and retired from dancing after winning the British Championships at Blackpool in his late twenties. He was 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.
Strictly Come Dancing
Goodman appeared as head judge on the BBC One dance competition Strictly Come Dancing from its inception in 2004 until 2016. He appeared on the panel with Arlene Phillips, Bruno Tonioli, and Craig Revel Horwood; Phillips was later replaced by Alesha Dixon and then Darcey Bussell. 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.
Dancing with the Stars
Goodman had been the sole head judge on Strictly Come Dancing's American adaptation, Dancing with the Stars. He had appeared with fellow judges Carrie Ann Inaba and Bruno Tonioli since the show's inception and for five seasons with alternating fourth judges Julianne Hough and Derek Hough. He did not appear as a judge in season 21 and season 29, but presented short segments on dance styles during the latter season. On 14 November 2022, Goodman announced during the season 31 semifinals broadcast that he would be retiring from the show to spend more time with his family in Great Britain.
Other television work
In 2005, Goodman voiced Professor in the five-time Emmy Award–winning children's program Auto-B-Good.
In both 2007 and 2008, he was one of the UK's commentators at the Eurovision Dance Contest.
In March and 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, and in it he interviewed descendants of survivors, and introduced viewers to memorials and significant sites in the United Kingdom.
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 November and December 2013 Goodman and Lucy Worsley presented the BBC Four three-part show Dancing Cheek to Cheek.
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. 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.
In November 2015, Goodman 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. Prior to the show he had never eaten curry, spaghetti or Chinese food.
In 2017 Goodman presented a family game show called Partners in Rhyme, based on Matt Edmondson's game, Obama Llama.
In October 2021, Goodman made a guest appearance in the Channel 4 soap opera Hollyoaks as part of a dancing storyline, when his voice was heard, while dance teacher Trish Minniver, portrayed by Denise Welch, was reminiscing.
Between 2013 and 2018, Goodman occasionally deputised for Paul O'Grady on his Sunday afternoon music show on BBC Radio 2, playing the music that he had grown up with. In 2021, he hosted three special bank holiday shows for Boom Radio.
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 £8,050, for his nominated hospice care charity Demelza, of which he was an official patron.
Goodman's autobiography Better Late Than Never, written with Richard Havers, was published by Ebury Press in 2008.