Whether he’s dancing with the stars, dancing with his fiancé, or dancing with himself – it’s rare to find a moment where Derek Hough is sitting still. However, the dancing pro did miss a step when his longtime friend and colleague, Len Goodman, passed away suddenly last month. Derek got emotional when speaking with “Extra’s” Billy Bush about what Len meant to him.
“He was just pure joy. He really was. I mean, what he represented and what he did for that show, for television, for all of us,” said Derek, whose memories with Len go all the way back to childhood.
“I lived in London when I was 12 years old. And I remember him MCing a dance competition, so I’ve known him for so many years and then to be able to work alongside him for over 16 years; just being able to judge alongside him these past couple years, and especially last season, I really remember just savoring every moment with him. And I’m so grateful for that.”
Goodman, who passed away from bone cancer, was a head judge on the BBC’s “Strictly Come Dancing” from 2004 until 2016. He was a judge on “Dancing with the Stars” for 15 years until his retirement in November 2022.
Derek says he and his “Dancing with the Stars” family weren’t aware of just how sick his friend had been.
“We sensed his fragility, but we had no idea the extent of it. This was a huge shock for all of us,” Derek told Billy.
“He’s a special guy’s, just a special guy. We definitely lost somebody really special.”
Derek will no doubt have Len on his mind when he returns to the ballroom.
“I want to do something just to honor him and continue to in the future.”
“Dancing with the Stars” is set to return in the fall and bring back a familiar face: Julianne Hough will rejoin the dance competition as a co-host for its 32nd season.”
“She is back in the family,” said Derek, on Julianne, who previously had been both a pro-dancer and a judge on the show. “I was like, oh, yeah, that makes perfect sense. What a great return.”
Derek, himself, will return to touring around the country as Derek Hough Symphony of Dance kicks off September 28.
“This one is really special,” said Derek, who put together this tour, which will be his third.
“I have a team. We really create this beautiful symphony. And what’s really special about this tour as well, is that my fiancé, Hayley’s [Erbert] gonna be on the road with me as well, dancing, performing.”
Derek, who popped the question to Hayley in June of 2022, let it slip that the tour isn’t the only big thing he has planned for this year.
The wedding is also this fall. August,” said Derek. “It’s the first time I’ve said that actually, so I probably get in trouble from the wife.”
Asked if friend Mark Ballas will be the best man? Derek says there’s a possibility.