Strictly Come Dancing head judge Len Goodman has admitted that he never thought the popular BBC show would be a success.
As the TV competition comes to the end of its 14th series, the dancer and teacher said he thought the programme would be a “mickey-take” of his passion, ballroom dancing.
In an interview with Radio Times magazine, he said: “I had lots of qualms – lots.
“Firstly I was very worried it might be a mickey-take of my little world of ballroom dancing, which of course was totally wrong.
“I also didn’t think the professionals would be able to teach a non-dancer celebrity in a few days to any high standard.
“Thank heavens I did say yes, because it absolutely changed my life. Never, ever have I regretted doing it, I’ve been so privileged to be part of the show.”
The 72-year-old’s comments came after he recently revealed that he would be retiring from the show’s judging panel, which he shares with Bruno Tonioli, Darcey Bussell and Craig Revel Horwood.
“I want to enjoy myself and go to places that I’ve never been before,” he said of his plans for the future. “I want to go out and live my life a bit more.”
Goodman first began learning to dance properly at the age of 21, when he joined a local dance studio because he had a soft spot for the owner’s daughter.
He told the magazine: “The owner was a man called Henry Kingston and I started dancing with his daughter because I fancied her.
“One day Henry said he’d be prepared to give me some private tuition for free, so we could start entering competitions together. That’s how it all started.”
But seven years after being launched into a career of competitive dancing, he said he found his “true love” in teaching others.
Now the proprietor of The Goodman Dance Academy in Dartford, Kent, he said: “Although I’ve taught world champions, my favourite is teaching people off the street in the hope they will discover the joy of dancing. Seeing them progress – it’s lovely.
“That’s what I miss the most. With Strictly, I got what I wanted – a bit of fame and fortune – but I miss going up the dance school and teaching people how to dance.”
He added that, while his wife and son have mostly taken over the school, he occasionally visits on a Saturday morning.
“That’s my favourite,” he said, “I feel like Justin Bieber when I walk in the door.”
::Read the full interview in the Christmas edition of the Radio Times.