Len Goodman has hit back at claims he was a “traitor” to quit Strictly Come Dancing but continue Dancing With The Stars.
Strictly fans were devastated when Len, 73, announced last year he was stepping down as the BBC One show’s head judge.
Many were then annoyed when it emerged Len would be continuing with his Dancing With The Stars judging job over in Los Angeles, with grumblings of “traitor” floating around on social media.
However, appearing on This Morning today, Len defended himself.
“People got very anal about this, saying, ‘Oh, the traitor, he’s left Strictly!’ but it was nothing to do with that,” he said.
“It was all to do with my contract.”
Len explained: “On the BBC, it’s an annual thing, so they can fire or hire annually. But in America they sign you up for four years. So I had to do that.
“It then became a case of, ‘Do I want to fly every week back to Britain?’ I just could not physically do it. It’s an 11-hour flight, plus eight hour time difference, then two days here, then back. So, no.”
Although Len’s no longer a judge on Strictly, that doesn’t mean he hasn’t been keeping an eye on things.
Discussing the finale, he said he felt Alexandra Burke had been the best dancer, but agreed Joe McFadden was a worthy winner.
“I thought the final was great, I enjoyed it very much,” he said.
“What I like is the balance. Probably Alexandra was the best dancer, however Joe, what a journey he had! He got through because of his popularity, which was lovely. The judges give their input, so do the viewers, and it’s marvellous.”
Len announced his intention to quit Strictly back in 2016, saying he’d loved being part of the show but it was time to move on.
He’d been head judge since the programme launched more than a decade ago.
At the time, he said: “This adventure began when I was 60 and now that I’ve reached my 70s, I’ve decided after this year it’s time to hand the role of head judge to someone else.”
Len was replaced as head judge by Shirley Ballas, who joined Craig Revel Horwood, Bruno Tonioli and Darcey Bussell on the judging panel this year.
It’s yet to be confirmed whether Shirley will return for a second series, although she’s hopeful it does happen.
Shirley recently told The Sun: “I’ve had a brilliant experience. One never presumes but I have enjoyed it. It would be an honour if one was to be asked back for such a magnificent show.”
This Morning airs weekdays at 10.30am on ITV.