Derek Hough is returning to Dancing with the Stars in a major way. ABC confirmed today (September 8) that the professional dancer will be taking over Len Goodman’s role on Season 29 as the long-standing judge is unable to appear in the ballroom due to travel restrictions.
In a statement obtained by TV Line, Derek shared his excitement to return “home” four years after he last served as a pro.
“This show has been and will always be incredibly special to me. Coming back feels like coming home, and I couldn’t be more excited to be back in the ballroom.”
Derek last appeared in 2016 when he was partnered with Marilu Henner. He came in sixth place but has previously won the show a record six times.
Due to restrictions brought about by the coronavirus outbreak, Len is unable to join Bruno Tonioli and Carrie Ann Inaba in studio. He’s currently at home in the U.K., but will still be a part of the show.
ABC confirmed that he will make appearances “in a different capacity.” It’s thought that Len will take on a remote role similar to the one DigitalSpy reported that Bruno is doing for the upcoming season of the British version, calling in via video link.
Plenty of fans took to Twitter to share their excitement.
“Derek is the best judge on world of dance, he is GOING to be the best on dwts. period,” one fan tweeted.
“So excited to see Derek Hough (@derekhough) as a judge for the first time ever… He has certainly been a respectable one on World of Dance! #DWTS #DWTS29,” another said.
As fans pointed out, Derek already has some judging experience as he’s given critiques on four seasons of NBC’s competition series World of Dance alongside Jennifer Lopez and Ne-Yo. His sister, Julianne Hough, also previously sat on the judging panel full-time on Seasons 19 to 21 and 22 to 24.
Good Morning America first confirmed last week that Derek would return in a top secret role in a video shared to Twitter.
GMA described him as a “legend” and teased that the upcoming shows will be “epic.”
Season 29 already has some major changes. Tyra Banks is replacing hosts Tom Bergeron and Erin Andrews, and new episodes will be filmed without a studio audience due to the ongoing pandemic. This year’s contestants include Carole Baskin, Nelly, and Chrishell Stause.
Dancing with the Stars will return to ABC on September 14.