I’ll dance the cha-cha-cha naked af­ter my morn­ing ex­er­cises, just to give my wife a treat!

For­mer Strictly favourite Len Good­man talks to GABRIELLE FA­GAN about his last­ing love for teach­ing dance, his pal Bru­cie and why look­ing af­ter his joints has been life-chang­ing

Gloucestershire Echo - - CELEBRITY WELLBEING -

HE’S fa­mous for judg­ing danc­ing – but Len Good­man de­clares hap­pily that, these days, the only time he ever ac­tu­ally dances is in his bed­room. “I don’t dance at all now, ex­cept an oc­ca­sional solo just af­ter I’ve done my morn­ing ex­er­cises, when my wife’s still in bed. I’ll dance the cha-cha-cha naked just to give her a treat! It cer­tainly wakes her up!” he says, roar­ing with laugh­ter.

The 75-year-old is still as full of charm and wit as he was on Strictly Come Danc­ing, which he joined as head judge when the show be­gan back in 2004, stay­ing on for 12 years be­fore bow­ing out in 2016.

Fa­mous for his fa­mil­iar “Seveeeen!” score, he also had a great line in colour­ful catch­phrases – in­clud­ing “pickle me wal­nuts”, “win­ner, win­ner, chicken din­ner, fin­ger-lick­ing good”, and “spank me gen­tly with a wet chamois”.

His blend of knowl­edge, in­nate kind­ness to con­tes­tants, straightta­lk­ing and oc­ca­sional grumpi­ness en­deared him to mil­lions.

He still watches Strictly, but says: “It’s like hav­ing a girl­friend who you’ve dated for a while and you’re hap­pily split from – but when you see her out with another bloke, you think, ‘No, that’s not right, that was my girl’.

“So it feels funny but I don’t miss it – it’s about look­ing for­ward not back. Even if they asked me to go back as a guest judge, I wouldn’t. I did my best for all those years and I wanted peo­ple to say, ‘It’s a shame old Len’s gone’, in­stead of, ‘Thank

good­ness he’s gone!”’

Those morn­ing ex­er­cises (but not the dance!) he men­tioned were rec­om­mended to him by the late Sir Bruce Forsyth and he cred­its them for both his im­pres­sive spright­li­ness and un­flag­ging hu­mour.

“Bru­cie used to say to me: ‘Len, when you get up in the morn­ing, be­fore you do any­thing, have a stretch’,” he re­calls with a smile.

“He did it all his life. I do cir­cles with my arms, stretch my legs and try – and fail – to touch my toes! It’s not just about stay­ing phys­i­cally fit. Be­ing ac­tive adds to my gen­eral feel­ing of well­be­ing.

“I’m as fit as a bis­cuit – I feel about 28 in my brain and around 40 in my body. It’s vi­tal to keep mov­ing. I play golf twice a week and go to the gym twice a week for 30 min­utes, no heavy breath­ing mind, just a gen­tle work­out on the bikes.”

He does ac­knowl­edge that years of ball­room danc­ing – he be­gan aged 21 and was Bri­tish cham­pion by his late-20s – took a toll how­ever, and he was plagued for years by arthri­tis.

He rolls up his trouser leg to show scars left by a par­tial knee re­place­ment in 2015. With old­school ‘show must go on’ grit, he re­fused to take a week off from Strictly af­ter the surgery, in­stead ap­pear­ing on the show with crutches.

“Danc­ing can pun­ish your body – es­pe­cially Latin – and in those early days there was never any talk of warm­ing up, which prob­a­bly didn’t help,” ex­plains Len, who lives with his sec­ond wife, Sue, 54, in Kent, where they run their own ball­room danc­ing school along with Len’s son, James.

“I was in pain for years and by the time I was 67, I was in agony and barely able to walk.

“The worst thing was I love golf, but to do 18 holes I’d have to get a buggy around the course, which left me out of a lot of the fun with my mates.

“Sue fi­nally in­sisted I go to the doc­tor, and although it was scary to have the op­er­a­tion and go un­der anaes­thetic, it was so well worth it.”

His sur­geon told him the surgery was only 20% of the treat­ment though – the other 80% was about Len man­ag­ing his re­cov­ery and fit­ness, which in­cluded build­ing up his leg strength by swim­ming.

He also uses Flexiseq (a drug-free gel con­tain­ing deep-pen­e­trat­ing lubri­cants to help main­tain joint health), which, Len be­lieves, helped him defy doc­tors’ pre­dic­tions of hav­ing to spend months re­cov­er­ing.

“I started gen­tle putting on the golf course within six weeks and grad­u­ally built it up, and was walk­ing the course and play­ing golf within two-and-a-half months,” he says proudly.

“The doc­tors were amazed.” While fans still greet him wher­ever he goes, he’s dis­mis­sive of the la­bel ‘celebrity.’

“I’m not a celebrity. I’m just a dance teacher from Dart­ford, who got re­ally lucky and got asked to be on a very pop­u­lar show,” in­sists Len, who’s still a judge on the Amer­i­can ver­sion, Danc­ing With The Stars.

“Strictly did change my life,” he adds. “I started at 60, which for most peo­ple is al­most the end of the line for work­ing, but for me it was the be­gin­ning of a whole new ad­ven­ture.”

He’s de­ter­mined to stay young at heart, and says that famed grumpi­ness is a thing of the past.

“I used to go in a bloom­ing strop about any­thing and ev­ery­thing and be in­tol­er­ant, but I’m so much more mel­low now. A healthy diet and ex­er­cise im­prove your gen­eral mood and out­look.”

And he’s de­ter­mined never to re­tire: “I like work­ing. On days off, I pot­ter in the garden, play golf and spend time with my beau­ti­ful grand­chil­dren,” says Len.

“My ini­tials are LG, and that spells ‘life’s good’ – and it re­ally is.”

■ LEN Good­man uses Flexiseq, a drug-free gel con­tain­ing deep­pen­e­trat­ing lubri­cants to help main­tain joint health. Flexiseq’s 30g pack, £11.89, is avail­able from Lloyd­sphar­macy stores and lloyd­sphar­macy.com

I’m not a celebrity. I’m just a dance teacher from Dart­ford, who got re­ally lucky and got asked to be on a very pop­u­lar show...

Len on his time on Strictly

Len Good­man says his time as a Strictly judge changed his life

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