Claudia Winkleman "almost head butted" Len Goodman when she found out he had quit 'Strictly Come Dancing'.

Claudia Winkleman

Claudia Winkleman

The 45-year-old presenter - who co-hosts the ballroom and latin show with Tess Daly - was devastated when she learnt the legendary judge was turning his back on the show following 12 years on the panel last year.

She said: "I just went straight up to him. I almost head butted him when I'd heard [he was leaving] and I went 'No, that's not allowed. I like the fact that you've got an idea, but it's not happening', and he went 'Claude ...' "

Claudia was convinced the 72-year-old choreographer would change his mind and couldn't believe it when he waved goodbye to his fellow panellists Craig Revel Horwood, Bruno Tonioli and Darcey Bussell in December.

The brunette beauty told the Radio Times: "Oh I hated saying goodbye to Len.

"I love him so much. We sort of couldn't believe it - we kept on going, 'He'll change his mind, he'll change his mind'. "

Despite his co-stars trying to persuade him to stay on the show, Len felt it was the "right time" to leave as he was struggling to juggle his job on America's 'Dancing With the Stars' with 'Strictly Come Dancing'.

He said at the time: "Maybe I have got one or two years left in me being a judge, but it's the right time and I've had a wonderful 12 years. My father died when he was 79 and I'm 72. God willing I'll live to be 99, but there's always that chance that in six or seven years I could be brown bread.

"So I want to spend more time with my family as I've now got a granddaughter. I want to be able to do all these things."

And, although he's only just put down his score paddle, bosses are already on the hunt for his replacement.

Tess said recently: "We don't know [who is taking over]. There are a few people in the mix. It's still under discussion.

"I'd imagine by the end of April we'll have some news."