Strictly Come Dancing star Anton Du Beke pays tearful tribute to Len Goodman

The dance show judge choked back tears as he admitted he misses the friend he feels luck to have known.

Watch: Anton Du Beke overcome with tears in tribute to Len Goodman

Strictly Come Dancing star Anton Du Beke choked back tears as he paid tribute to "friend" Len Goodman.

The former Strictly and Dancing With The Stars head judge has died just days ahead of his 79th birthday after battling cancer.

Du Beke, 56, told The One Show: "He said to me when I got the job [of judge]..."

The ballroom dancer then became overcome with emotion and struggled to speak.

Read more: Shirley Ballas pays tribute to 'dearest friend' Len Goodman: 'A true gentleman'

Anton Du Beke was in tears as he confessed missing his friend Len Goodman. (Getty Images)
Anton Du Beke was in tears as he confessed missing his friend Len Goodman. (Getty Images)

Removing his glasses and taking a deep breath he said: "Ridiculous, isn't it?"

Du Beke then continued: "When I got the job, he said, 'Say what you see, and be yourself.' And that was exactly as Len was. He was himself. And I was lucky enough to know him for a long time and lucky enough to call him a friend. So I miss him."

Host Alex Jones - who competed in the ninth series of Strictly in 2011 when Goodman was still head judge - also became emotional as she exclaimed: "Oh, Anton. God, what a lovely tribute to Len. My goodness."

Len Goodman died just days before his 79th birthday. (ABC via Getty Images)

The Welsh TV presenter added: "When we see you judging on Strictly, you really remind me of Len," she said. "You really do. So he lives on through Anton."

Goodman was head judge on BBC's Strictly when it launched in 2004 until 2016.

He was also head judge on the US version of the celebrity dance contest Dancing With The Stars from 2005 until 2022.

He announced his retirement from Dancing With The Stars in November 2022 to spend more time with his family. At the time he knew that he had developed bone cancer.

Judges Len Goodman (R) and Craig Revel Horwood arrive at the Strictly Come Dancing 2011 press launch at BBC Television Centre on September 7, 2011 in London, England.  (Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images)
Len Goodman with fellow Strictly judge Craig Revel Horwood in 2011. (Getty Images)

Strictly's current head judge Shirley Ballas has been among the many celebrities to have paid tribute to Goodman.

She tweeted: "What extremely sad news this morning. As I came off Good Morning Britain I heard of the passing of my dearest friend Len Goodman.

Read more: Strictly Come Dancing judge Len Goodman has died aged 78

"My past teacher, a dance legend and a true gentlemen. He was a shining star in the ballroom that everyone loved."