Nigel Lythgoe steps down from popular TV show So You Think You Can Dance amid assault lawsuits

 Nigel Lythgoe is a film director, producer, and television competition judge - and has now stepped down from his US television role (Photo by Jon Kopaloff/Getty Images) Nigel Lythgoe is a film director, producer, and television competition judge - and has now stepped down from his US television role (Photo by Jon Kopaloff/Getty Images)
Nigel Lythgoe is a film director, producer, and television competition judge - and has now stepped down from his US television role (Photo by Jon Kopaloff/Getty Images)
A well-known British television personality has stepped back from the new series of a popular American TV show after the programme was rocked by allegations of sexual assaults

Nigel Lythgoe said it is with a “heavy heart” that he has decided to step back from the upcoming series of So You Think You Can Dance amid allegations of sexual assault. The announcement comes less than a week after US singer and dancer Paula Abdul accused the British TV producer of multiple sexual assaults while she appeared as a judge on hit TV shows American Idol and So You Think You Can Dance.

Lythgoe was an executive producer of British talent show Pop Idol as well as American Idol, before co-creating and starring on US series So You Think You Can Dance, which launched in 2005. He also earned himself the nickname Nasty Nigel.

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“I have informed the producers of So You Think You Can Dance of my decision to step back from participating in this year’s series,” Lythgoe said in a statement. “I did so with a heavy heart but entirely voluntarily because this great programme has always been about dance and dancers, and that’s where its focus needs to remain. In the meantime, I am dedicating myself to clearing my name and restoring my reputation.”

Lythgoe vehemently denies the allegations made by Abdul in the Californian lawsuit, which was followed by claims in a second lawsuit filed by two additional women, according to US reports. Abdul claims she kept silent “due to fear of speaking out against one of the most well-known producers of television competition shows who could easily break her career as a television personality”, the documents said.

Lythgoe was a producer and appeared as a judge on Popstars, earning the nickname “Nasty Nigel” thanks to his cutting remarks to the hopefuls. The 2001 talent show opened the door to the likes of American Idol and The X Factor, changing TV on both sides of the Atlantic forever.

Having joined the BBC’s The Young Generation dance troupe in 1969, he became a choreographer at the age of 21. Lythgoe has since worked on more than 500 TV shows, including Morecambe And Wise, The Two Ronnies and Gladiators, as well as with some of the biggest names in showbiz, such as Gene Kelly and Bing Crosby.

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