Len Goodman has admitted he fears the introduction same-sex couples could be a mistake as it may put off the programme’s loyal over-50s demographic.

After years of refusing to budge on its traditional set-up — Strictly Come Dancing producers made a dramatic U-turn and announced that the show would introduce same-sex couples this series.

And while bosses are hopeful the change will give the BBC a ratings boost, former head judge Len, 76, isn’t so sure.

Change: Len Goodman, 76, has admitted he fears the introduction same-sex couples could be a mistake as it may put off the programme's loyal over-50s demographic

Change: Len Goodman, 76, has admitted he fears the introduction same-sex couples could be a mistake as it may put off the programme’s loyal over-50s demographic 

It comes after it was revealed Olympic gold medalist Nicola Adams, 37, will form one half of the show’s first same-sex couple.

In an exclusive interview with the Mail On Sunday, Len, who quit Strictly in 2016, said: ‘A lot of older people are traditionalists – they used to go ballroom dancing and most people’s nans and grandads met probably in a dance hall.

‘The older viewers have their certain traditional ways about it all so might not be sure.

‘But look – I suppose the good thing is that most older people I don’t think vote, so it won’t matter much in that way.’ 

Decision: Strictly Come Dancing producers made a dramatic U-turn and announced that the show would introduce same-sex couples this series with ex boxer Nicola Adams

Decision: Strictly Come Dancing producers made a dramatic U-turn and announced that the show would introduce same-sex couples this series with ex boxer Nicola Adams

Despite this, Len added that if he had it his way the programme, which will air on BBC1 from October 24, would stick to its long-standing ballroom dancing format.

‘They did it on Dancing On Ice didn’t they – they had two guys dancing — so I suppose it’s the way the world goes, things progress and things change,’ he said.

‘But you’ve got to understand I’m an old fuddy-duddy ballroom dancer so if it was down to me it would be men and women and all the men would be in tail-suits but I know it wouldn’t work.

‘We’ll see – it will be interesting in the same way it was on Dancing On Ice, it’ll be interesting to see.’

Nicola, who is in a relationship with 22-year-old beauty blogger Ella Baig, praised the BBC for their decision, saying ‘it’s time for change.’

Len said: 'A lot of older people are traditionalists – they used to go ballroom dancing and most people's nans and grandads met probably in a dance hall'

Len said: ‘A lot of older people are traditionalists – they used to go ballroom dancing and most people’s nans and grandads met probably in a dance hall’

The former boxer appears to be partnered with professional dancer Katya Jones as the pair were recently pictured leaving filming together on Tuesday morning. 

The BBC’s U-turn on same-sex pairings follows several calls for Strictly to reflect modern society from high profile LGBT celebrities who have joined the cast before.

In 2018, Dr Ranj Singh’s plea to dance with a male professional dancer was shot down by the BBC — despite saying it was an ‘incredibly important’ issue.

Reverend Richard Coles, a gay contestant from the 2017 series, said it made ‘no sense’ that anyone would resist having dancers of the same gender taking to the floor.

Gay TV star Robert Rinder, who starred on Strictly in 2016, called for change too – saying: ‘visibility really does matter.’

Len added: 'But look – I suppose the good thing is that most older people I don't think vote, so it won't matter much in that way'

Len added: ‘But look – I suppose the good thing is that most older people I don’t think vote, so it won’t matter much in that way’ 

Meanwhile, Craig Revel Horwood, 55, also pointed out that ‘the tango was originally danced between two men anyway’.

Nicola will be joined on this year’s series by what Len dubbed a ‘very nice, mixed bag of celebrities’ including former home secretary Jacqui Smith, 57, Men Behaving Badly actress Caroline Quentin, 60, and Radio 1 DJ Clara Amfo, 36.

Len added that he was relieved he knew most of this year’s cast, with previous years’ line-ups being criticised for including YouTubers and social media influencers including Joe Sugg, 29, and Saffron Barker, 20.

‘I know it’s going to be different this year because there won’t be an audience and things will have to be a little different but I like the line-up of who they’ve got,’ he said.

‘I know some of them which is something as sometimes I didn’t used to know any of them.’

Speaking out: Craig Revel Horwood, 55, previously pointed out that 'the tango was originally danced between two men anyway' (pictured with fellow judge Bruno Tonioli)

Speaking out: Craig Revel Horwood, 55, previously pointed out that ‘the tango was originally danced between two men anyway’ (pictured with fellow judge Bruno Tonioli) 

Len underwent surgery during lockdown to have skin cancer removed from his forehead — but says he is now feeling ‘fabulous’.

‘I’m as right as rain now but I have learnt my lesson and the error of my ways,’ Len said.

‘I learnt that because I go out and play golf and this and that I now need to always put on some Factor 50 or Factor 30 and always wear a hat.’ 

Len is supporting Remember A Charity, a consortium of charities working to encourage more people to consider leaving a gift to charity in their Will.

Familiar faces: Len added that he was relieved he knew most of this year's cast, with previous years' line-ups being criticised for including YouTubers and social media influencers

Familiar faces: Len added that he was relieved he knew most of this year’s cast, with previous years’ line-ups being criticised for including YouTubers and social media influencers 



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