“The American gay community attacked me for saying something totally innocent”

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Your worst childhood memory?

I grew up in Bethnal Green, and in 1953 there was a Queen’s Coronation street party with trestle tables. There were currant rolls, and although I didn’t like the rolls, I loved the currants. I picked them all and kept them in a delicious pile. A woman came and said, “You don’t like gooseberries? and nicked them. I never forgot it. As you can probably imagine, I had a pretty fabulous childhood if that’s my worst memory. I had a very loving family.

The worst feature?

The worst thing about aging is that, like everything else, your memory starts to break down. It happens to me a little now that I don’t remember anything. It’s really sad, but what can I do? I did a quiz recently, and one of my questions was “Who is the leader of the Labor Party?” I couldn’t remember.

The worst dance?

People tend to remember the bad dancers from Strictly. When Ann Widdecombe danced with Anton Du Beke, she was very funny, even though she was a terrible dancer. John Sargeant and Russell Grant were also memorably terrible. But Ricky Whittle, who you may not remember, was wonderful, as was Natalie Gumede.

Strictly’s worst dancer was automotive journalist Quentin Willson, who received the lowest ever score in the first series. But it doesn’t matter if you are the worst or the best. The only thing you don’t have to be is boring.

The worst thing about Strictly?

Strictly open opportunities, such as presenting to BBC One vacation of my life and Len and Ainsley’s Great Culinary Adventure. But I had to give up teaching dance to ordinary people in my dance school, because I didn’t have time. I still miss it.

I started dancing myself because a friend of mine was going there. I was sitting in a pub and I said, “Do you want to go to the cinema?” He said, “No, I’m going to dance in the ballroom.” I said, “Oh, shut up.” He said, “Len, there are plenty of girls, hardly any boys. So I said, “Oh, well, I’ll come too.” So there you are.

Worst health fear?

About 10 years ago I had prostate cancer, like a lot of guys. It was a shock. The funny thing is, when you’re sick, you expect it to be painful. You can understand it if there is terrible pain in your leg. But there was no pain. I went to the hospital and, knock on wood, everything is fine.

The worst of social networks?

I do not like it. I was on Twitter years ago for a short time, but they’re angry. It has the most horrible people on it. I remember coming home on a Saturday night and couldn’t have said anything too serious, maybe I gave someone a low grade, but I heard all that stuff like, “I hope when you get home you’re in a car accident and you die. “That’s the kind of thing I have. So I stopped using it. It’s no good unless you’re the Piers Morgan type who has really thick skin and doesn’t care.

The absolute worst

I understand that things change, which I agree with – however, I find it very easy to unwittingly say something that isn’t PC. I didn’t want to do it, and suddenly I said something and stepped into it. That’s part of the reason I’m glad I’m not on Strictly anymore. I’m sure I would have inadvertently said something that wasn’t acceptable to some people.

It happened when NSYNC’s Joey Fatone did a rumba, and his arms were too limp. Whenever I criticize I think of positives, like “I have to say your posture was great” and also something to help, but I said “I wish your arms were stronger, they were a bit airy-fairies.” Airy-fairy It’s a saying I’ve used all my life, but I’ve been attacked by the American gay community for something totally innocent.


Len Goodman supports Remember a Charity Week (September 5-11), which encourages people to donate to charity in their will. To learn more, visit Rememberacharity.org.uk

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