Former Strictly Come Dancing stalwart Len Goodman has given his verdict on Anton Du Beke’s new stint as a judge, saying he will be “wonderful”.

Goodman, 77, stepped down from the BBC dancing competition in 2016, having been on the judging panel since the programme began in 2004.

This year professional dancer Du Beke will join the panel in place of Bruno Tonioli, who is unable to take part due to commitments in the US and travel uncertainty caused by the pandemic.

Speaking on Good Morning Britain, Goodman described this year’s line-up of celebrity contestants as a “lovely, eclectic mix of all sorts of people”.

The new series will see stars including BBC Breakfast presenter Dan Walker, McFly musician Tom Fletcher, comedian Robert Webb, Loose Women panellist Judi Love and swimmer Adam Peaty all vying for the Glitterball trophy.

Goodman said of Walker: “I played golf the other week with Dan Walker. He’s up for it, I tell you. He’s a competitive sort of guy… whether he’s good I don’t know, however he won’t lose for lack of trying and dedication and giving it his all.”

He added: “He’s tall, he’s got an elegance about him. You know, he’s good at golf which is great. Because you need timing, rhythm, good movement, technique. All the stuff you need for dancing, so who knows?”

Three-time Olympic champion Peaty signed up for the show following his success at the 2020 Games in Tokyo over the summer, where he won two golds and a silver.

He also made history as the first British swimmer to retain an Olympic title after claiming victory in the men’s 100m breaststroke with a time of 57.37 seconds, the fifth fastest in the event’s history.

Asked about Peaty, Goodman said: “I always admire sportsmen more than any others really.

“I can understand it, if you’re a young, you know, you’ve been to stage school and they say ‘Oh, well, I’ve never done the waltz’. No, of course you haven’t. But you’ve learned timing, rhythm, movement, fluidity, co-ordination and performance. So, you know, I always feel that they’ve got a slight edge, but then the sportsmen are competitive, they’re used to being coached. So it’s all up there, isn’t it?”.

The former Strictly head judge will be reunited with Tonioli on the judging panel for US series Dancing With The Stars, which this year will see social media star JoJo Siwa make history as the first contestant on the series to compete as part of a same-sex pairing.

The 18-year-old YouTube personality, who came out as gay in January, will find out who she is teamed up with when the show airs in the US this month.

Former Great British Bake Off winner John Whaite will dance with a male professional on Strictly Come Dancing.

Goodman said: “I’ve got no strong feelings about it. You know, it’s a way that the world continues. If it was down to me, they’d all be in tail suits… And, you know, in my little world of ballroom dancing, because in most of the competitions there’s far more girls than there ever are boys, you get lots of all-girl couples all the time.

“You’ll judge a little competition somewhere and there’ll be two guys with their partners and the rest will be all girl couples, you know. So that’s the way it is.”

– Strictly Come Dancing will return to television screens on Saturday September 18.