Head judge Len Goodman announced on Monday that he is leaving “Dancing With the Stars” after this season.
“While you’re all looking forward to the finale, it will also be with a touch of sadness, as this will be my last season judging on ‘Dancing With the Stars,” he said halfway into the two-hour semi-finals episode.
“I’d like to spend more time with my grandchildren and my family back in Britain,” he explained. “I cannot thank you enough, ‘Dancing With the Stars’ family. It’s been such a wonderful experience for me.”
His fellow judges Carrie Ann Inaba, Derek Hough and Bruno Tonioli gave him teary hugs as the audience also rose to its feet to applaud the often curmudgeonly judge, who was all smiles during his announcement.
Goodman has been a judge on the dancing competition since it launched on ABC in 2005. Prior to that, he was a judge on “Strictly Come Dancing,” the U.K. show that the hit U.S. series is based on.
He missed only two of the reality series’ 31 series: In season 29, he stayed home in 2019 during the COVID pandemic and also did not appear in Season 21 due to scheduling conflicts.
Co-host Tyra Banks called him “a living legend,” and pointed out that many of the show’s professional dancers, including Derek Hough and Mark Ballas, were judged by Goodman when they were young.