The Season 31 semi-finals of Dancing with the Stars provided plenty of drama. The performances were amazing! Two couples were cut from the show just before the finale. It was the end of the road for actor Trevor Donovan and pro Emma Slater, as well as actor Daniel Durant and Britt Stewart.
But there was a shocking announcement that rocked the DWTS ballroom. Head judge Len Goodman is retiring after this season. When Len made the announcement, he was tearfully embraced by his fellow judges, Bruno Tonioli, Carrie Ann Inaba, and Derek Hough.
“Whilst we all are getting excited and looking forward so much to the finale next week, it would also be with a touch of sadness and this will be my last season judging on Dancing with the Stars,’” Len stated per Page Six. He plans to spend more time with his family. Len said that it was “a huge pleasure” to have been a judge on DWTS “since it started” in 2005. “I’m looking forward so much to next week’s finale. I’m sure it’s going to be absolutely brilliant,” Len added.
Many of the DWTS pros were surprised by Len’s announcement. “It got me in my feels, if I’m honest. It caught me off guard,” Emma remarked. “I didn’t expect to feel as emotional as I was.” She continued, “Len, I’ve known him since I was 10 years old. He would judge competitions [in England] and he would always want me to win,” Emma added. “I remember going up to him as a kid and thanking him for believing in me,” Emma explained. “Twenty years later, I did the same thing tonight … and I cried my eyes out again.”
Pro dancer Gleb Savchenko, who is partnered with Shangela from RuPaul’s Drag Race, called Len “a legend.” Gleb added that the departing judge is “the heart” of the DWTS ballroom.
“All of the critiques and all of the little points that he always said to us, we all took on board and we all worked on it because he is the representation of ballroom dance,” Gleb explained.
He continued, “So for him leaving the show, it’s heartbreaking. I got emotional just hearing it.” The pro dancer added, “We just all love Len so, so much, and not having him, it’ll be a missing piece.”
Val Chmerkovskiy is dancing with The Bachelorette star Gabby Windey this season. He stated that he was “genuinely sad” about Len’s upcoming departure. “It feels like a chapter closing. I started thinking, like, ‘Well, if this time has flown by so fast for him, it’s flown by so fast for me as well,’” Val commented. “That’s kind of the inevitable reality for all of us. So, it really put me in a place of appreciation and gratitude,” he added.
There hasn’t been any news about who, if anyone, will take Len’s place. In my mind, no one can replace Len. Cheryl Burke, who has danced on DWTS for 25 seasons, was paired with Sam Champion this season. “Cheryl definitely wants to be a judge and I think that she would be an amazing addition,” Britt commented.
“I think that Derek is a testament to a past pro becoming a judge. He really has the knowledge, and he has the experience of what it’s like to be in our shoes,” Britt explained. She noted that Len was “the hard judge” who was “so tough” on competitors. She added that it will be “interesting” to see who “takes on that role.”
I will miss hearing the iconic phrase that has thrilled so many dancers in the ballroom: “From Len, the 10!” Congratulations on your retirement, Len! You will be missed!
TELL US- WERE YOU SHOCKED BY LEN’S ANNOUNCEMENT? WILL YOU MISS LEN ON DWTS? WHO SHOULD REPLACE LEN?
[Photo Credit: ABC/Christopher Willard]