Former Strictly Come Dancing head judge Len Goodman has said he was surprised by the news that professional dancer Brendan Cole was leaving the show.
Len, who departed BBC One’s flagship dancing series in 2016 after 12 years, told the Press Association: “I was [surprised] because he’s been on the show from week one, but I had no idea of the reasons.
“The thing is, I think a little bit, shows are a bit like a plant, they do need a little pruning now and again to keep them healthy.
“I don’t know whether there was that sort of feeling about it.”
Len added: “All I know is I thought Brendan was a fabulous dancer in both Latin and Ballroom and I liked the fact he had a little bit of sass about him.
“He’d answer the judges back. Anton [Du Beke] is the same, he’ll answer back a bit, I like that, rather than just sit there and take it.”
Brendan announced in January that he would not be returning to the dance floor as part of the show, having been there since the first series in 2004.
A week later, Len said he was “sad” about Brendan’s exit and said he hoped his own exit from the show didn’t influence the decision to axe Brendan.
In an interview with Daily Mail at the time, Len said he couldn’t understand why it had happened.
“You can’t say he didn’t do a great job,” said Len. “He did and there was always a bit of an edge with him: the bad boy of ballroom – he didn’t mind answering you back. I hope me leaving didn’t cause it.”
Speaking about his exit from the show, Brendan said on Lorraine in January: “This is quite hard to talk about. The BBC haven’t renewed my contract – we get renewed year on year – and they made an editorial decision not to have me back on the show.
“I’m a little bit in shock. I’m quite emotional, a bit raw about it.”
In response, Strictly issued a statement saying: “We’d like to thank Brendan Cole for being part of the show since the beginning – winner of the first series – and for the contribution he has made to its success.
“We wish him all the very best for the future.”
Meanwhile, during an appearance on Lorraine on Monday to promote Remember A Charity, Len admitted he believes Strictly would be “better” with Brendan.
He also spoke about his “fall outs” with Brendan during their time on the show together.
Len said: “I liked the fact that we clashed. If you’re not careful the judges come over like bullies picking on people that can’t defend themselves.
“The celebrities are a bit nervous. So, you need someone. It’s nice when the pro says, ‘Hold on, I don’t think that’s quite right.’ And gives you a bit back.”
He added: “It all adds to the banter of the thing. Me and Brendan had a few fall outs but we were still good chums.”
Do you miss Len and Brendan on the show? Leave us a comment on our Facebook page @EntertainmentDailyFix and let us know what you think!