Fans of Strictly Come Dancing were moved to tears by the moving tribute to veteran judge Len Goodman.
Before his final appearance on the BBC’s flagship programme on Christmas Day 2016, Goodman had become associated with his catchphrase ‘Seven’.
He was diagnosed with bone cancer and passed away in April at the age of 78.
Claudia Winkleman, host of tonight’s debut event, stated in a video tribute, “He was perfect in every way.”
‘Len could light up a room so when you were with him you felt aglow.
‘He would say pickle my walnuts, he was funny, you wanted to watch him.’
Meanwhile judge Craig Revel Horwood said: ‘I don’t think I will meet anyone as funny.
‘I absolutely adored our little arguments and that is what sort of bonded us and gave us a fantastic friendship.’
Struggling to hold back his tears, he added: ‘If you asked me the question ‘was Len one of your best friends’, I would say absolutely.’
The emotional segment had viewers in bits, with one writing: ‘Well not a dry eye in my household tonight beautiful tribute to Len Goodman.’
‘Am sitting here crying what an amazing Tribute to Len Goodman R.I.P Len Goodman,’ another said.
Someone else wrote: ‘Thank you for doing this Len Goodman tribute in the first episode since his passing @bbcstrictly.
‘He was a real character during his time as a judge and he helped to make #Strictly entertaining, especially with some of his catchphrases.’
#StrictlyComeDancing what a beautiful and moving tribute to the Daddy of Strictly Len Goodman. Did not expect to shed tears tonight 💔
— jackie bell (@nyss2005) September 16, 2023
Thank you for doing this Len Goodman tribute in the first episode since his passing @bbcstrictly 👏
— girls (@girlsonlyii) September 16, 2023
— Ciara Lawrence (@ciarale01) September 16, 2023
— Theatre&Tonic 🎭 (@theatreandtonic) September 16, 2023
— Wando (@Wandoful) September 16, 2023
#strictlycomedancing Am sitting here crying what an amazing Tribute to Len Goodman R.I.P Len Goodman 🕊️🥺💃🕺❤️
— 💗 (@rhyspringle0) September 16, 2023
In other news, the show paid respect to pro dancer Amy Dowden, who will not be matched with a celebrity on the 2023 show after being diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer earlier this year.
The new series began with a dance honouring the ‘Welsh dragon’ of the Strictly family.
‘We are of course missing one of our professional dancers, our wonderful Amy Dowden is sick and she can’t be with us for the opening of the season,’ said host Tess Daly.
‘She’s our Welsh dragon and we know she’ll be back soon.’
Claudia added: ‘Amy, from your entire Strictly family we are sending all our love and we can’t wait to have you back on the dancefloor.’
The group number had judges Shirley Ballas, Craig, Motsi Mabuse, and Anton Du Beke performing alongside the pros to a mix of songs including LF System’s Afraid To Feel, Kylie’s Padam Padam, and Michael Buble’s Higher.
Meanwhile, Amy expressed her gratitude on social media, writing: ‘My grin the other week after being with the Strictly family, the complete staff.
‘So grateful and lucky to have you all. Tune in tonight.
‘Can’t wait to support all my friends and their fabulous journeys this year and I’ll be there when I can.’
Strictly Come Dancing continues next Saturday on BBC One and iPlayer.