Len Goodman interview: ‘We drove through a field right into Stonehenge!’

Strictly Come Dancing judge Len Goodman tells us how he’s taking celebrities on a trip down memory lane in his new BBC1 series Holiday Of A Lifetime…

Tell us about your new series Holiday of a Lifetime?
“I enjoyed it so much because I’m taking celebrities off to their first ever holiday destination. So Esther Rantzen went to the Isle of Wight when she was five so we went back and tried to relive how it was for her then. We also looked at what had changed and so on. I’ve been all over Britain doing the same in the Isle of Man, Scotland, Cornwall, and Broadstairs with Giles Brandreth. I went over to Ireland with Eamonn Holmes and Gloria Hunniford, too. I’ve been absolutely all over the shop and it’s been marvellous.”

How does it work?
“I’d meet up with a celebrity and go off to their destination and see where they stayed, if it’s still there, even visit the hotel they were in. We’d just try to bring back whatever period it was, relive what they got up to. We’ve done 15 of them in all, one for each of the 15-part series! There was a lot of travelling about! But it was like a holiday for me.”

What was your favourite destination?
“Well funnily enough, I went with Giles Brandreth to Broadstairs in Kent and I used to visit there a lot with my dad. I was a bit earlier than Giles, but it was a very similar sort of era and time, so it was like a joint effort, because we could reminisce together. I also went with Angela Rippon to just outside Plymouth and it was a lovely area I’d never been to before but it was lovely countryside and I’d definitely like to go back there again.”

Any funny moments?
“The trips were full of laughs, too many to name. Something funny happened on every one. I went with Bill Oddie to Dungeness which is wild and there’s nothing there other than a nuclear power station. It’s where he went as a kid and first got into birdwatching and of course he had his binoculars and we were hunting in the hedges for Dartford warblers and other rare birds, but all we saw was a pigeon and a seagull! I also went to the Isle of Man with Dave Myers the Hairy Biker and that was full of laughs and I’d forgotten how lovely the area was.”

What about your childhood destination?
“Well my first holiday was to Weymouth in 1950, which sounds too long ago to talk about! I don’t remember much about it because I was only five. But the first real holiday I remember was with my mum and we went to a place in Devon called Salcombe. It’s lovely! We went in the car and left about 2am and about 7am we were driving across Salisbury Plain and I said to my mum ‘what’s all that over there?’ and she said ‘that’s Stonehenge, let’s go and look at it.’ Now it’s all car parks and a special centre and everything, but back then we just drove through a field right into Stonehenge! I remember sitting on the rocks and everything.”

Do you feel nostalgic for those simple holidays?
“Well, once the 1960s and package holidays came along, everyone shot off to Benidorm and somehow it all changed. But for me if you get good weather there’s nothing nicer than a holiday by the British seaside. There’s a quaintness about it and a charm. I like to visit places in Britain and if I don’t it’s because my wife likes to go to other places! I travel a lot to America with Strictly Come Dancing and Dancing With The Stars, but I get fed up with travelling really. For me, if I go to foreign parts, like to visiting cities such as Prague or Florence, four days is a perfect trip where you leave on a Friday and come back on a Tuesday. That’s a perfect break.”

* Holiday of Lifetime begins on BBC1 on Monday October 20 at 3.45pm, and runs every weekday afternoon for the next three weeks.

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