Longtime “Dancing With the Stars” judge Len Goodman announced on November 14’s live show that he is retiring at the end of season 31. Now a new report from The Sun says that one professional dancer feels they deserve to be the one replacing the outgoing judge.
Here’s what you need to know:
Cheryl Burke Has Officially Retired & Reportedly Wants to Take Len Goodman’s Spot
On Sunday, November 20, Burke officially announced her retirement on Instagram. The post is a photo of her in the early years of the show and in the caption, she wrote, “I am sitting here full of so many conflicting emotions about the words I am about to write… Tomorrow night will officially be my final dance as a pro dancer on @dancingwiththestars. This has been one of the absolute hardest decisions of my life & I am also confident that it is the right one.”
On top of her retirement, a “Dancing With the Stars” insider told The Sun that Burke has “made it abundantly clear” to the producers that she is interested in taking Goodman’s spot and feels that she “deserves” it. Burke is the longest-tenured pro on the show — she has competed in 25 out of 31 seasons, more than any other pro dancer. She was also a mentor for the “Juniors” season.
There are other pros who have been on a lot of seasons, but the closest anyone comes to Burke’s number of competition seasons are Tony Dovolani with 21 and Mark Ballas with 20. Val Chmerkovskiy and Karina Smirnoff have danced on 18 seasons each, followed by Maksim Chmerkovskiy and Derek Hough with 17 apiece, Kym Johnson Herjavec with 15, and Peta Murgatroyd and Sharna Burgess with 14 each.
So with that in mind, the insider told The Sun that Burke thinks she “deserves” the chance to be a judge.
“Cheryl has been dropping hints all season that this may be her final season on the show and she has made it abundantly clear now she wants to take Len’s spot and deserves that chance,” said the source. “In fairness, she and others feel it should be a natural progression for someone like her to be handed a promotion.”
The source then said that Goodman leaving “effectively makes it an ultimatum.”
“Everyone sees this as the producers’ time to ‘put up or shut up,'” said the insider.
Indeed, Burke has said multiple times on her podcast and in interviews that she wants to be a judge.
As recently as the November 15 episode of “Burke in the Game,” the dancer said this is “likely” her last season, and she told “Entertainment Tonight” in her elimination interview for season 31 that she is ready for a promotion.
Fans think she already knows she is going to be announced as a new judge because she teased during an Instagram live that she hopes to annouce some news “soon.”
“Hopefully, I’ll still be gracing your television screens, so we’ll see. We’ll see if I have any new news to announce soon. I’m hoping, just waiting. Waiting for it to happen, so hopefully it’ll happen soon,” said Burke.
And even in her retirement announcement, she teased, “I do have a few things up my sleeves though, so don’t worry.”
Perhaps the show will announce the move during its season 31 finale, which will be both Goodman’s final show and Burke’s final show as a pro dancer.
The Insider ALso Said Cheryl Burke Was Disappointed Not to Get the Judges Spot That Went to Derek Hough
When travel restrictions locked most of the world down during the pandemic, Goodman was unable to be a part of season 29, so the show asked retired pro Derek Hough, who last danced on the show in a competitve nature during season 23, to step in. When Goodman was able to return for season 30 and now season 31, the panel stayed with four judges.
The insider told The Sun that dancer Cheryl Burke was actually disappointed not to be offered that spot on the panel when Goodman couldn’t participate in season 29.
“To be clear, she is happy Derek got a judge’s slot. If anything, she would love to be up there alongside him giving out critiques,” said the source.
The “Dancing With the Stars” season 31 finale airs Monday, November 21 at 8 p.m. Eastern and Pacific times on Disney Plus.