Nigel Lythgoe: Wikis


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Nigel Lythgoe
Born 9 July 1949 (1949-07-09) (age 60)
Wirral, England, UK
Occupation Director
Television personality
Years active 1969–present
Spouse(s) Bonnie Lythgoe (1974–2007)

Nigel Lythgoe (born 9 July 1949) is an English television and film director and producer, and former dancer in the Young Generation and choreographer. He is noted for being the producer of the shows Pop Idol and American Idol as well as creating, executive producing and being a regular judge for So You Think You Can Dance. He was also creator of the 2009 competition Superstars of Dance.


Early Life

Born in Wirral, England, to a dockworker father, George Percival Lythgoe and Gertrude Emily Lythgoe, he became interested in dance at the age of 10. He began by with tap and then went on to become a student at the Hylton-Bromley School of Dance and Drama on Merseyside where he studied classical ballet, modern jazz, ballroom, character, classical Greek and National dance from various countries. His first professional job was in the Corps de Ballet for the National tour of "The Merry Widow." He went on to train in London under Joanne Steuer and Molly Molloy.[1] Beginning in 1969, Lythgoe performed with the BBC's "Young Generation" dance troupe. He later became their choreographer in 1971 and choreographed over 500 television shows.


Early in Lythgoe's career, he learned to use techniques (eg. multi-cameras) to film choreography well, a skill that would later lead to a TV career.[1] During the 1970s and into the 1980s, Lythgoe had the opportunity to perform with dancers from Cyd Charisse to Gene Kelly. He also choreographed for Ben Vereen, Shirley Bassey and (most famously) the Muppets.[1] Lythgoe, in an interview with People said that he "was the only person to dance, choreograph, produce and direct the Royal Variety Performance" for the Queen of the United Kingdom.[2]

After working his way through the television industry, by 1995 Lythgoe held the post of Head of Entertainment and Comedy at London Weekend Television,[1] where he commissioned and produced shows including Gladiators and Blind Date[3].

In 2000 he became the tough judge on Popstars and was nicknamed "Nasty Nigel" by the British tabloid press. He was loaned by London Weekend Television to Bob Geldof's television company Planet 24 to executive produce and direct the UK version of Survivor. Lythgoe then joined Simon Fuller's 19 Entertainment group as President of 19 Television. He developed and produced a new show created by Fuller, Pop Idol. This then became a global franchise of which includes American Idol.

Lythgoe came to the US in 2002 to produce American Idol and then became producer/judge and co-creator of So You Think You Can Dance on the FOX television network which has now become a global phenomenon.

Lythgoe, and his production partner Ken Warwick, who went to school together from the age of 12, initially agreed to produce the 2007 Emmys, but could not due to scheduling conflicts with SYTYCD.[4]

In 2007, Lythgoe worked with a number of prominent California-based Brits, including then-British Consul-General Bob Peirce, to found BritWeek, an annual program of events held in Los Angeles and Orange County to celebrate the strong business, historical, and entertainment ties between the UK and California.

On 4 August 2008, Lythgoe confirmed that he was leaving American Idol and decided to move on with So You Think You Can Dance.[5]

In 2009 Lythgoe and Fuller formed a company called Big Red 2 Entertainment. Fuller is a fan of Manchester United and Lythgoe of Liverpool FC. Both teams play in red. Their first venture was to bring a world of dance to America with Superstars of Dance for NBC.

He is a judge on So You Think You Can Dance (UK).


Lythgoe has been criticized for comments considered by some to be homophobic. During Season 4 of So You Think You Can Dance, Lythgoe commented to an effeminate male dancer that he looked "like someone's taken a broomstick and shoved it up where the sun don't shine."

Season 5 of So You Think You Can Dance aired its first instance of two males performing ballroom dance together. [6] After the two performed, Lythgoe remarked: "It was a bit like watching ... Blades of Glory,"[7] adding,

I think you'd probably alienate a lot of our audience. We've always had the guys dance together on the show but they've never really done it in each other's arms before. I'm really one of those people that like to see guys be guys and girls be girls on stage. I don't think I liked it, to be frank. [8]

He went on to say that he would like to have each of the men dance with women, saying, "You never know, you might enjoy that, too." The following day, he posted to Twitter ""I'm not a fan of 'Brokeback Ballroom.'"[9] Lythgoe apologized for the "Brokeback" comment, saying "It was insensitive, arrogant and stupid. I have upset a number of dear friends."[10] Fox and the producers of So You Think You Can Dance issued a joint statement saying, "The judges critique auditioners and contestants on their overall performance, stage presence, technique and a wide range of characteristics.... We apologize if any viewers were offended by their remarks."[11]

Personal life

Lythgoe was married to Bonnie Lythgoe, whom he met while he was choreographer for the BBC's Young Generation dance troupe.[3] They married in 1974 and divorced in 2007.[12] Bonnie was also an audition judge on the first season of So You Think You Can Dance and is a judge on the Australian version of So You Think You Can Dance. The couple have two sons together, Simon Lythgoe and Kristopher and four grandchildren Kyan, Tighe, Dominie and George.

Lythgoe was rumoured to be dating Jerry Hall, former partner of Mick Jagger. He has denied this, including on Jonathan Ross's BBC Radio 2 show. [13]

He suffered a heart attack in January 2003[14].

He owns a vineyard in Paso Robles, California.[15]

Producer filmography (partial)

Director filmography


  • 2008 Emmy: Outstanding Reality/Competition Program - Nominee
  • 2007 The Governors Award - Winner
  • 2007 Emmy: Outstanding Reality/Competition Program - Nominee
  • 2006 Emmy: Outstanding Reality/Competition Program - Nominee
  • 2005 Emmy: Outstanding Reality/Competition Program - Nominee
  • 2004 Emmy: Outstanding Reality/Competition Program - Nominee
  • 2003 Grammy: Album of the Year - Nominee

In July 2009, Lythgoe received an honorary Doctorate of Fine Arts degree from University of Bedfordshire.[16]!


  1. ^ a b c d Looseleaf, p. 43
  2. ^ Rizzo, Monica (8 August 2005), "TALKING WITH . . . SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE'S . . . NIGEL LYTHGOE" People, 64 (6):38
  3. ^ a b
  4. ^ Waldman, Allison J. (6 August 2007) "Take a Peek Behind the Curtain" Television Week 26 (31):23
  5. ^ Lythgoe Leaving 'American Idol'
  6. ^ So You Think You Can Dance Premieres Same Sex Dancing, (Accessed 23 May 2009)
  7. ^ [1], (Accessed 25 May 2009)
  8. ^ After GLAAD Gets Mad, Dance Judge Nigel Apologizes for "Brokeback Ballroom" Comments, (Accessed 23 May 2009)
  9. ^ [2], (Accessed 25 May 2009)
  10. ^ [3], (Accessed 25 May 2009)
  11. ^ [4], (Accessed 25 May 2009)
  12. ^ Colin Vickery and Siobhan Duck (20 February 2008) "So You Think You Can Dance's Bonnie Lythgoe's marriage gloom" Herald Sun, Accessed 23 July 2009
  13. ^ Hastings, Katy (09.10.09). "Jerry Hall is dating Nasty Nigel and is said to be 'gloriously happy'" (in English). United Kingdom: Mail Online. Retrieved 9 January 2010. 
  14. ^ "Nigel Lythgoe suffers heart attack" (in English). United Kingdom: BBC. 16.01.03. Retrieved 9 January 2010. 
  15. ^ Remember Nasty Nigel Lythgoe? He's nearly died twice, owns six houses - and his wife's run off with another man
  16. ^ University of Bedfordshire (10 July 2009).


  • Looseleaf, Victoria (August 2007), "A MAN, A PLAN, A WILDLY SUCCESSFUL TV SHOW". Dance Magazine. 81 (8):42-46

External links



Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Nigel Lythgoe (born July 9, 1949) is an English television and film director and producer. He is noted for being the producer of the shows Pop Idol and American Idol as well as creating, executive producing and being a regular judge for So You Think You Can Dance.


  • The minute you take away somebody the public's voting for, you're screwing with the program. There's no logic to it.
    • On accusations that American Idol is rigged.
    • Keveney, Bill (June 18, 2002), "Viewers 'Idol'-ize this saucy search for a superstar". USA Today :Life,01d
  • Dance teachers should be certified in this country.
    • On why he is annoyed when mediocre dancers teach, and the damage they can do to their students
    • Rasminsky, Abigail (May/Jun2007), "Q & A with NIGEL & DAN". Dance Spirit. 11 (5):25
  • In my day everything wasn't so PC.
    • On his comments on overweight and effeminate dancers
    • Looseleaf, Victoria (August 2007), "A MAN, A PLAN, A WILDLY SUCCESSFUL TV SHOW". Dance Magazine. 81 (8):46
  • I would make a fool of myself...They are so much better than I was.
    • On why he never dances on So You Think You Can Dance
    • Looseleaf, Victoria (August 2007), "A MAN, A PLAN, A WILDLY SUCCESSFUL TV SHOW". Dance Magazine. 81 (8):46

External links

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