Strictly dancers Aljaz and Janette pay tribute to Len Goodman ahead of final series as judge

Strictly Come Dancing couple Aljaz Skorjanec and Janette Manrara said that no-one can ever fill the shoes of departing judge Len Goodman.

The engaged pair are in rehearsals for the upcoming 14th series of the BBC show, starting on September 3, which will be head judge Len’s final after 12 years turning his appraising eye to celebrities’ cha cha chas.

Aljaz, 26, compared Goodman’s peerless tenure to Hollywood legend Fred Astaire, whom the couple are set to celebrate in a new theatre show after the series is over.

He told the Press Association: “It’s kind of like Fred Astaire, no-one is ever going to replace Fred and Len has left such an incredible, huge mark on this TV show.

“He’s probably one of the biggest reasons the show is so successful the way it is today.

“Whoever is going to come in is going to just be a new judge, I don’t think they’ll be a new Len.”

Miami-born Janette, 32, added: “We’re going to try and make sure he has the best year yet in any way we can.

“I don’t think his shoes will ever be filled so whoever comes in is going to be a completely different energy.”

Producers “outdid themselves” with this year’s selection of celebrities, Aljaz said, which includes model Daisy Lowe, singers Will Young, Louise Redknapp and Anastacia, and former MP Ed Balls.

He struggled to hide his excitement at the prospect of Olympians Greg Rutherford and Claudia Fragapane straight off a plane from Rio and said he “100%” would like to be partnered with mature contestant Lesley Joseph, 70, after his run of stunning younger partners including Call The Midwife’s Helen George.

From April next year, the couple will be performing a 48-date tour called Remembering Fred in which they pay homage to Astaire and gave an interesting reason for their passion for him: their height difference.

Janette explained: “I’m quite small and Aljaz is so tall, so we enjoy dancing American Smooth the most and he (Fred) was really a creator of that form with Ginger Rogers. We really couldn’t say no to an opportunity like that.”

Len and fellow judge Darcey Bussell will discuss Fred’s influence on them as part of the show, with contributions from Twiggy, Gene Kelly, Ava Astaire and Rogers.

Janette said: “Just like Fred, we will be doing it big, doing it right and doing it with style.”

Tickets for Remembering Fred go on sale on September 3 from RememberingFred.com.

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