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Arlene Phillips remembers Len Goodman

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Arlene Phillips remembers Len Goodman

Today on Loose Women, Dame Arlene Phillips paid tribute to her friend and fellow Strictly judge Len Goodman, one year on since his passing.

Arlene told the panel that she looks back on her friendship with Len with ‘fondness’ and reminisced: “I do look back with fondness. Interestingly, particularly when I hear his voice because that’s the thing, we can now record voices… Most of us have never thought about recording someone, knowing you’re going to lose, and keeping that memory.” 

Adding: “The joy in the fact that you can just go to your computer, open it up and you can get all those wonderful… ‘I’m just a dance teacher from Dartford’ or whatever it may be and you can hear them. So, just hearing his voice brings him back and the crazy times that we shared.” 

Arlene revealed how the pair met: “I knew him and actually studied with Peggy Spencer, who Len was a great ally with dance lessons, but we came together [one] day and I had no idea Len was going to be there.” 

She continued: “They had called my agent, from the BBC, and they said, ‘We’re going to make a pilot and it’s probably going to be called ‘Strictly Come Dancing’ but it’s based on Come Dancing – that show that spent a lifetime on the BBC – and that we’d like to audition Arlene Phillips as a panellist’…  

“So, Len was sitting there, and there was this chaos. Nobody seemed to be organising what was going to happen and then suddenly, there we were being told what we had to do. It was now late, we’d been probably two hours in the chaos. Len was so unhappy, he’d gone from smiling [and] ‘Nice to meet you’, talking about the ballroom world, to grumpy Len. Nice to grumpy, really grumpy, in two hours because it was his lovely Sue’s birthday and he was taking her out for dinner. He wanted to go before we’d even started and that’s how we met!” 

Arlene agreed that Len ‘had always stayed grounded’ and said: “It was never about money, it was never about fame, it was about talking about dancing. That’s what he did and he still went back to his studio in Dartford, that was his baby. He created the ballroom school, he didn’t want to just leave it and say goodbye.” 

She added: “We had adventures together, we went to Southwold together and he’s feeding me ice cream… The Royal Albert Hall…” Before revealing: “The best thing about Len, I went up and down in likeability! Len was always loved.” 

Speaking to Ruth Langsford, Coleen Nolan, Janet Street-Porter and Brenda Edwards live in the studio, the choreographer also opened up turning 80: “I have to say, I now feel about age in a way that I never, ever thought I would. That was when I hit my 80th birthday because as far as I was concerned, those numbers could roll along but I was me and the numbers didn’t count, the numbers didn’t matter. 

“I didn’t care if I didn’t celebrate a birthday, it was not important. I hit 80 [and] for the first time I was questioning my health: ‘Will I keep going, How long do I have? How long am I going to spend time with my granddaughters?’ And something in my mindset has changed, I’m still bounding along each day… I got back from Germany on Thursday from working on the Starlight Express, new Starlight Express on Monday, non-stop, absolutely non-stop.”  

Speaking about her grandchildren, Arlene said: “I lost my mother when I was fifteen and so all I can think about is, ‘I want those kids to know when Grandma puts her arms round them, nothing in the world matters’. You could make everything in the world right by being Grandma and I love and adore them absolutely beyond everything I feel would happen as I got older.”  

Loose Women, ITV1 and STV from 12.30pm weekdays.

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