Len Goodman defends decision to play golf with mate during coronavirus crisis: ‘It was no different to going for a walk’

As the world grapples with getting used to life indoors, former Strictly Come Dancing head judge Len Goodman has revealed that, like most of us, he’s finding it tricky to adjust to lockdown and avoid anxiety.

“I’ve stopped watching the news about it. It scares me,” confesses the 75-year-old ballroom expert. “It’s just all doom and gloom. We had three years of Brexit, which got on my wick, then we get over that and now we have this.

“I understand the news has to let people know what’s going on but it makes you anxious,” he continues. “When I was younger I thought I was invincible, but as you get older things worry you.”

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Speaking at his Sevenoaks home with wife Sue, Len revealed that his other half is coping better than he is. “Sue is far more upbeat than me – I am basically a grumpy old man,” he admits with a laugh. “I think we all become grumpy when we’re stuck inside. But Sue and I haven’t had any big flare ups yet. I probably get on her nerves, though.”

And while Len is thankful that he and his loved ones are currently well, he is missing contact with his family, especially his granddaughter Alice, four, and his grandson Jack, 18 months.

“We’ve been FaceTiming a bit,” he says. “I might be an old sod who doesn’t know much about technology, but I’ve managed to work out how to do that. The problem is, kids don’t want to talk for long, they want to play. I did see my grandchildren in the park, too, but we kept our distance. We could wave at each other, but it’s hard not to be able to give them a hug. Still, I’m just trying to obey the rules.

“I’ve mostly stayed indoors the whole time but I got a bit of criticism when some pictures of me playing golf appeared online. I did play a game, but it was before the club was closed and I followed the club’s official guidance. You were allowed to play in twos, so me and my friend kept two metres apart and didn’t touch any flag poles. It was no different to going for a walk.”

One thing he certainly hasn’t been doing is raiding supermarket shelves. “I don’t like the idea of stockpiling, it’s horrible,” he stresses, adding “Although prior to this, my wife was a bit of a stockpiler in case we got snowed in in the winter, so we have plenty of long-life milk and cornflakes. I’m not sure about loo roll, that’s not really my area, but I’m sure we have some.”

With his TV work on hold – a project for Channel 4 has been postponed while the US version of Strictly, Dancing With The Stars, doesn’t begin production until September – Len has discovered some positives to spending so much time behind closed doors.

“I’ve sorted out my drawers and have found underpants that are 50 years old,” he says. “So I got rid of those! I’ve also been doing a jigsaw with Sue, because it’s important to keep your brain ticking over, and I’m trying to remember all the kings and queens of England as a memory game.”

Has he been dancing indoors to exercise? “No, I don’t dance any more,” he smiles. “It’d be nice to though! I’ve been painting the garden fence instead.”

And Len, who sings God Save The Queen when he washes his hands (“I like the drum roll”), hopes we all come out of this ordeal a more united nation.

“They say with every disadvantage, you can find an advantage, and I think that’s true,” he explains. “It’s making most of us look out for our neighbours and be a bit less selfish, because it puts everything into perspective. Wouldn’t it be great if all this made the world a kinder place afterwards?

“Ultimately, the British are very resilient people and we’re going to be fine,” he sums up, confidently. “We’ll get through this together!”

Read the full interview in this week's OK! magazine

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