Derek Hough will be a ‘fair’ and ‘fun’ judge on ‘Dancing with the Stars’

Derek Hough is taking over for Len Goodman on “Dancing with the Stars,” but his judging style won’t be exactly like that of everyone’s favorite curmudgeonly head judge.

“I think I’ll be a fair judge, I’ll be a fun judge. But more importantly, I want to try to inspire and motivate these celebrities to have the best possible time they can have and to get better each week,” Hough told “Good Morning America” on Tuesday (watch above). “I’ve experienced everything that they’ve experienced. I’ve been on the show 17 seasons, and there’s nothing they’ll be going through that I haven’t gone through before, so I understand.”

A six-time champ, Hough left “Dancing” after Season 23 in 2016 and has since served as a judge on NBC’s “World of Dance,” so he’s no stranger to handing out critiques. Goodman is unable to travel from his native U.K. to Los Angeles for the upcoming 29th season, opening the door for Hough to return.

“It’s like coming home,” he said. “Being a part of that show for so long, having such amazing memories and experiences and triumphs and failures and all the things — I’m excited. I can’t wait.”

SEE Everything we know about ‘Dancing with the Stars’ Season 29

The two-time Emmy winner, whose sister Julianne Hough has also been a “Dancing” judge, is not worried about critiquing his fellow pros and friends. “There’s a lot of love and mutual respect there,” he noted, adding that his ultimate job is to help the celebrity. “The focus is on their journey, is on their improvement. … It’s such a special experience to be a part of and I want each of these celebrities to have that special experience. To be a judge and to help them and serve them in some way is what I’m here to do.”

The 15-person cast — the show’s largest since the 16-person Season 9 lineup in 2009 — features Carole BaskinNellyAJ McLeanMonica AldamaJesse MetcalfeAnne HecheJohnny WeirVernon DavisKaitlyn BristoweJustina MachadoCharles OakleyJeannie MaiSkai JacksonChrishell Stause and Nev Schulman.

“I’m looking forward to all these amazing celebrities,” Hough said. “I think there’s going to be some really great dancers this season, from what I see, so I’m really looking forward to that.”

“Dancing” premieres Monday, Sept. 14 at 8/7c on ABC.

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