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Dancing With the Stars has certainly seen its fair share of twists and turns, but the ballroom just got its biggest shocker yet.
During season 31’s semi-finals on November 14, celebrity competitors and pro partners battled it out to continue their journey to the Mirrorball trophy. The Disney+ episode featured many memorable moments, from dance professional Witney Carson announcing her pregnancy to double eliminations sending two favorites home. Though, perhaps the biggest surprise of all came when head judge Len Goodman revealed his retirement.
In a clip since tweeted by the show, host Tyra Banks took a pause amid performances and addressed Len by noting that the 78 year old has seen more than 3,000 routines during his tenure. He followed up by saying that this will be his last season on Dancing With the Stars, to which shocked audience members let out audible gasps and dropped jaws.
“Well, whilst we’re all getting excited and looking forward so much to the finale next week, it will also be with a touch of sadness as this will be my last season judging on Dancing With the Stars,” he said on the series.
Len continued: “I’ve been with the show since it started in 2005, and it’s been a huge pleasure to be a huge part of such a wonderful show. But I’ve decided I’d like to spend more time with my grandchildren and family back in Britain.”
“I cannot thank you enough, the Dancing With the Stars family. It has been such a wonderful experience for me. I’m looking forward so much to next week’s finale. I’m sure it’s going to be absolutely brilliant,” he concluded.
Without hesitation, the room erupted with applause and standing ovations as teary-eyed fellow judges Carrie Ann Inaba, Derek Hough and Bruno Tonioli clapped along and rushed to hug him. Equally devastated, Dancing With the Stars fans flooded Twitter afterward.
“The show has been ruined. Now, I know I will never watch again. I love Len. I wish him well,” one person wrote. “Oh no Len say it isn’t so! The show will not be the same without you and I really mean that! I wish you were staying,” another added. “He was the best judge ever ❤️ Will miss him a lot. Wishing Len a health and happiness. Can’t hold back the tears 💔,” a different fan said.
The notoriously critical judge has been a pillar of the show since its inception in 2005. It’s not the first time in the show’s history we’ve seen Len’s absence. Though not in a permanent capacity, Derek sat in Len’s seat during season 29 after the coronavirus pandemic made it difficult for the British judge to travel to the U.S. to film. Still, Len made occasional virtual appearances to offer his expertise.
There’s no telling who may replace Len as head judge, but we can assume that the series will, at least, stick to a three-judge panel. For now, stream the Dancing With the Stars season 31 finale (on November 21) to witness Len’s momentous final bow, and of course, see who takes home the prized title.
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