Len Goodman, the former Strictly Come Dancing judge who died last week aged 78, was the “last of the great TV showmen”, says Judith Woods in The Daily Telegraph. A former welder who spent his youth working his grandfather’s fruit-and-veg barrow, he made it to the top “thanks to a tireless work ethic”. Goodman epitomised a generation of “all-rounders who could dance, sing, and make people laugh uproariously”. They were propelled from humble backgrounds by sheer dedication – Bruce Forsyth’s father ran a garage, Des O’Connor was the son of a dustman, Eric Morecambe’s mother waitressed to pay for his dance classes.
Part of the allure was their polished image. Goodman’s shoes were buffed to a shine; his suits “playfully sexed up” with hot-pink shirts and pocket squares. “I don’t like shirts without ties,” he complained. “Why do they do that? I blame Jeremy Paxman.” Compare this to current entertainers, most of whom shot to fame overnight thanks to reality TV and slob around in tracksuit bottoms. Even our most popular comics like Michael McIntyre and James Corden channel “baggy supply teacher” in their ill-fitting suits. What’s more, they lack the wit and “quickfire responses” of the previous generation. Can you imagine Dermot O’Leary comparing a Strictly contestant’s tango to “a cowpat on Countryfile: hot and steamy”? Or Graham Norton playfully describing himself as a “cup of tea in a world of skinny lattes”? Today’s stars will never compare to “great vaudevillian all-rounders” like Goodman.