Len Goodman leaps to the defence of Strictly replacement Shirley Ballas

New head judge has faced a barrage of viewer criticism

Len Goodman says he was told viewers would not understand what he was talking about when he employed technical terms – now also used by Shirley Ballas – as a judge on Strictly Come Dancing.

Len, 73, stepped down from the BBC dancing show in 2016, having been on the judging panel since the programme’s 2004 launch.

The ex-head judge praised his replacement and her use of technical terms, such as “syncopated Cuban breaks” and “fifth position breaks”, which have confused some viewers.

Shirley Ballas (Matt Crossick/PA)
Shirley has been praised by her predecessor (Credit: BBC)

He told BBC Breakfast: “I started off full of double reverse spins and all that but then I was told, ‘Well, no-one knows what you’re talking about’.”

But he added: “They’re back in, good for them.”

Of Shirley, he said: “I think she’s done great. I really do. She’s her own self, she’s got good critiques.”

Len said he had faced the same criticism as the new head judge when making decisions in the dance-off.

“I remember I got terrible stick once. With the dance-off you have to just judge that dance.”

The Strictly 2017 final will feature Gemma Atkinson, Joe McFadden, Debbie McGee and Alexandra Burke.

Len said: “What’s great on Strictly is when you get a final and you really don’t know who’s going to win it”.

And he added: “What’s great, with the viewers, they appreciate those that have never danced before.”

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