Len Goodman to leave Strictly Come Dancing

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

Goodman, 72, has led the judging panel on the BBC One talent show since it began in 2004.

He said it had been "an honour" to be part of the "wonderful Strictly Come Dancing family".

Goodman will not be retiring and will continue his shows on Radio Two.

The BBC said it was too early to speculate on who would succeed Goodman on the panel of the talent show.

Goodman has led the judging panel since the show began Credit: PA

Anton De Beke is the bookies favourite to replace Len Goodman as a judge on Strictly Come Dancing.

He is the front runner to step away from the dancefloor next year and sit behind desk instead at odds of 2/1 with Ladbrokes.

Karen Hardy is rated as a 7/1 shot followed by Ian Waite at 8/1.

Goodman's final series begins in the autumn, joined by Darcey Bussell, Bruno Tonioli and Craig Revel Horwood.

In a statement, 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 ten years on.

"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. It is an honour being part of the wonderful Strictly Come Dancing family and I’m looking forward to my last series very much and to whatever comes next.”

Darcey Bussell and Len Goodman Credit: PA

Charlotte Moore, director of content at BBC, said: "After 12 years, our wonderful head judge Len has decided it's time to hang up his Strictly Come Dancing shoes!

"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."

Louise Rainbow, executive producer of Strictly Come Dancing, said: "We are absolutely delighted that Tess, Claudia and our judges are all returning for another year. Whilst we will be sad to say goodbye to Len, as our way of saying thank you, we are all determined to make this series the most spectacular, most glittery and entertaining yet."