The long-serving Head Judge announced he was stepping down shortly before last year’s series kicked off, making his final appearance on ‘Strictly’ during the most recent Christmas special.
This year’s series will see the arrival of dance expert Shirley to the show, and Len has now revealed their paths have crossed on multiple occasions already.
Len concluded that Shirley is a “wonderful” and “fantastic” dancer, adding: “[She’s] better than I ever was.”
Shirley said, after first being announced for the role: “I am so excited and over the moon to have been given this wonderful opportunity. I can’t wait to get into the ballroom and be part of the incredible and respected judging panel.
“’Strictly’ is so loved by the British public, I have always been a massive fan. I just can’t wait!”
Fellow judges Craig Revel Horwood, Darcey Bussell and Bruno Tonioli will all be back on the panel this year, with the new line-up almost being announced completely.
‘Good Morning Britain’ presenter Charlotte Hawkins is the latest celebrity contestant confirmed, with The Saturdays singer Mollie King, comedian Brian Conley, daytime queen Ruth Langsford and ‘EastEnders’ hunk Davood Ghadami already announced for the show.
Also competing will be comedy performer Susan Calman, ‘Sunday Brunch’ presenter Simon Rimmer, ‘Holby City’ actor Joe McFadden, 80s-musician-turned-reverend Richard Coles, former ‘X Factor’ contestant Aston Merrygold and soap star Gemma Atkinson.