Head judge Len Goodman is out of Dancing with the Stars for its 21st season, and there will not be a permanent replacement for him in the ballroom. Julianna Hough will return for her third season as a judge, so the show will be back to three permanent judges. That’s certainly enough, especially when they have occasional guest judges.
Len has been on the show since its start, just as he has been since the beginning of the UK show that inspired it, Strictly Come Dancing, on which he remains a judge. However, he is not retiring, as he’s staying on the UK show, and the ABC series has left the door open for his possible return.
Executive producer Rob Wade told People:
“Len will not be returning as a judge this season on Dancing with the Stars due to his schedule as a judge on Strictly Come Dancing in the U.K. and the birth of his new grandson. He still might be involved in the season at some capacity, but we will have to wait and see. We are planning on having great guest judges for some shows to join Bruno [Tonioli], Carrie Ann [Inaba] and Julianne [Hough], and I’m sure we will see Len in the ballroom again soon.”
Earlier this week, ABC announced, via Good Morning America, the names of the pro dancers—though, notably, there were just nine names. There are typically 12 or 13 contestants every season.
The nine who were announced include Karina Smirnoff, who’s return after taking a season off:
- Mark Ballas
- Sharna Burgess
- Witney Carson
- Artem Chigvintsev
- Val Chmerkovskiy
- Allison Holker
- Derek Hough
- Peta Murgatroyd
- Karina Smirnoff