Pic © Shooting Star CHASE, REX
Words by Christine Smith
We’re used to seeing him behind the judges’ desk on Strictly Come Dancing. But Len Goodman has another treat in store for us later this month – a nostalgic new series called Holiday of a Lifetime. We’ll see Len (70) touring Britain with celebrities including Arlene Phillips and Bill Oddie, as they return to their childhood holiday haunts.
Len enjoyed himself very much, and says the programme brought back a lot of happy memories. “I snapped at the chance to do this show, I really did,” says Len. “I love Britain and I grew up in an era when we went to the English countryside for our holidays with Mum and Dad.
“I take people back to their first-ever childhood holiday and they try to relive how it was then. They revisit what they got up to, where they stayed and even how they got there.”
Kicking off in Broadstairs with Gyles Brandreth, where Len holidayed himself as a child, the star visits many different places including the Lake District and Glasgow. “If you get nice weather, you can’t beat British holidays,” explains Len.
“This programme is a chance for people to reminisce. It’s very nostalgic. Nowadays kids are playing on iPads, whereas when I was a child we’d be making sandcastles or paddling in water. What surprised me the most was how seaside towns haven’t changed. The places are more or less the same.”
Although Len spends a large part of his time flying to and from Britain to record Dancing with the Stars in Los Angeles, the American version of Strictly Come Dancing, he says he does practice what he preaches by holidaying in this country.
“I love going on British holidays. My last two main holidays were in Cornwall and Scotland. I get fed up of flying to America. But we do go abroad too. My wife likes to – and I do as I am told!” he laughs.
'Nowadays kids are playing on iPads whereas when I was a child we’d be making sandcastles’
For Len, the chance to be a travel presenter was also appealing because people will get the chance to know him more. In the flesh, Len is an incredibly charming, fun and down-to-earth person who is great company. He definitely doesn’t take himself too seriously, either.
“I get to be myself in this programme and I haven’t got to wear a dinner jacket,” he chuckles. “I know I have been very lucky to get this. Who’d have thought it? I’ve done stuff on Radio 2 and this has been brilliant as well.”
And as this year’s Strictly gets underway, Len – who has been head judge ever since the show started in 2004 – reckons it’s already shaping up to be a brilliant series. “Strictly has been wonderful. This year is going great – it’s such a good line-up. I think Alison Hammond could be another Lisa Riley for personality and shaking it about!” predicts the judge.
“I do like the fun people too; they produce the wonderfully memorable moments, like Russell Grant flying out of a cannon!”
Len says he never gets bored with Strictly. “I love the progression the couples make,” he says. “Some of them are a bit dodgy in the first few weeks but it’s a lovely show and the celebrities know they are not professional ballroom dancers. I can’t be overly nasty to any of them, either – I admire them all for trying.”
His advice to the celebrities is to try not to let nerves get the better of them. “They need to go out there and enjoy it,” he explains. “Of course there are nerves and it would be so much easier if it was pre-recorded, but it’s terrific they have a go.”
One of the professional dancers, Ola Jordan, said recently some of the costumes were too ‘skimpy’. But Len thinks they are important for the dance. “They only use costumes you would use in a normal ballroom competition,” he explains. “It’s how it is.”
Given he spends so much time with fellow judge, Bruno (on Strictly and its American version), do they ever get fed up of each other?
“No! We meet up at Heathrow after the show and have a nice chat,” insists Len. “It’s just good fun.”
So what’s next for the hard-working judge? He says he would love to host some more programmes of his own. “It’s all happening for old Len Goodman! I am still going strong! This holiday show has been a joy. If other things come along and I have got the time to do them, it would be really nice…”
- Holiday of a Lifetime is on BBC1 this Monday to Friday, 3.45pm. Strictly Come Dancing airs on BBC1, Saturdays and Sundays
There's more celebrity news in every issue of Yours magazine, out every fortnight on a Tuesday