Strictly Come Dancing judge Len Goodman to quit show

image captionGoodman said being part of the "wonderful" show had been "an honour"

Strictly Come Dancing head judge Len Goodman is to leave the show after the next series, the BBC has announced.

The 72-year-old has led the judging panel since the programme started 12 years ago.

"This adventure began when I was 60 and now that I've reached my 70s, I've decided after this year it's time to hand the role of head judge to someone else," he said.

"I'm looking forward to my last series very much and to whatever comes next."

Goodman will be joined by fellow judges Darcey Bussell, Bruno Tonioli and Craig Revel Horwood for his final series, which begins in the autumn.

media captionJudge Len Goodman is 'massive part of the show' says Strictly Come Dancing finalist Georgia May Foote

Tess Daly and Claudia Winkleman will continue to present the BBC One series.

Speaking about his time on the programme, Goodman said: "In 2004, I was asked to take part in a brand new BBC Saturday night show and who would have thought me, old Len Goodman, would still be part of this amazing series more than 10 years on.

"It is an honour being part of the wonderful Strictly Come Dancing."

image captionGoodman has been head judge on the show since it began in 2004

Charlotte Moore, director of content at the BBC, said: "I know we are all going to miss him tremendously, but I also know Len's final series is going to be full of unmissable moments and I hope audiences will give him the special send-off he so deserves."

It is not yet known whether he will continue to work on the US version of the show - Dancing with the Stars - which runs for two seasons each year.

Last August he announced he would be leaving the US show, and was absent for the winter 2015 season.

image captionGoodman and Bruno Tonioli also appear on the US version of the show

But three months later, he appeared to reverse his decision and returned to the programme for its spring run, which finished in May.

Bookmaker Coral has made Strictly dancer Anton Du Beke 2/1 favourite to replace Goodman on the panel.

Analysis - Lizo Mzimba, entertainment correspondent

Strictly Come Dancing rapidly became one of the BBC's biggest hits after its launch in 2004 - and its original head judge, Len Goodman, has been a stalwart on the show ever since.

He became a household name soon after the programme's debut, providing some much-needed balance between the comparatively grumpy Craig Revel Horwood and the excitable Bruno Tonioli.

Goodman's lovable demeanour helped him remain a constant on the show while other dancers, judges and presenters such as Sir Bruce Forsyth, Alesha Dixon and Arlene Phillips departed.

A feature called Len's Lens - where he would shine a spotlight on the detail of contestants' dances - also became a public favourite.

He will be remembered for his warm encouragement of even the most hopeless contestants, and, of course, the way he yelled "Se-VEN!" when awarding dancers seven points.

Strictly's head judge will no doubt be given a warm send-off from the new series when it concludes in December. His replacement will likely not be announced until next year.

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