FORMER Strictly head judge Len Goodman has backed Debbie McGee to become the oldest contestant to win the show.
Len, 73, who left the show last year after 12 years, said: “It’s wonderful that there is someone older on the show who is really good. It would be great to see her win.
“It’s been a while since an older person has been really good on the show and it’s always nice to see.
“Pamela Stephenson got into the final, but that was a while ago.
“You know the people in their twenties who have been in a pop group or been to stage school are going to do really well. One of the joys of Strictly is having a surprise contender.
“Last year was a good example with Ore Oduba – he was just a sports commentator and who’d have thought he was going to be such a good dancer. That’s what’s lovely.”
Debbie, partnered with Italian hunk Giovanni Pernice, 27, shocked viewers in her first dance performance by planting a surprise smacker on his lips at the end of the routine and was awarded top marks by judges.
Promoting his new compilation album Len’s Legends Best Of British, Len also announced a return to the series.
He added: “I’m hoping I can go to watch it live when I get back to the UK, hopefully the final or semi-final. I’d love to do that.”
OLA AND JAMES’S VERDICT
FORMER pros James and Ola Jordan said dancer Brendan Cole should “calm down” after his row with judge Shirley Ballas.
They were involved in a spat on Saturday after she accused Brendan of using illegal “rise and fall” in his tango with Good Morning Britain’s Charlotte Hawkins.
Ola, 35, said: “The judges need to be softer on Charlotte because she’s vulnerable. And Brendan needs to calm down and say ‘I’ve got to be professional’.”
Hubby James, 39, said: “I love that Brendan stood up for her but it just got a little bit awkward.”
He also called for judges Craig Revel Horwood and Bruno Tonioli to be replaced by Brendan and fellow pro Anton du Beke. He said they would “bring something fresh and younger” to the panel.
REV OUT GAFFE
DEBBIE McGee blundered yesterday when she revealed the Rev Richard Coles was booted off Strictly.
Debbie told her BBC Radio Berkshire listeners she was sad to see him go before last night’s pre-recorded results show aired.
A source said: “She was really embarrassed about spoiling it.”