Nigel Lythgoe was born in St. Helen’s, Lancashire, England. He and his family moved to Liverpool, where he began tap dancing at 11 years of age. He became the only person to dance in, choreograph, direct and produce the Royal Variety Performance for Her Majesty the Queen of England.
He has worked with stars such as Gene Kelly, Bing Crosby, Cyd Charisse, Chita Rivera, Shirley Bassey and, most prestigiously, the Muppets.
A three-time Emmy Award winner, Lythgoe has been a pioneer in reality television and a driving force in the world of performing arts as the co-creator, executive producer and judge on SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE, which has won 15 Emmy Awards, and the executive producer of the TV juggernaut “American Idol,” which has been nominated for nearly 70 Emmy Awards.
Lythgoe produced the charity spin-off “Idol Gives Back,” which raised more than $170 million. In 2007, it received the prestigious Governors Award, the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences’ highest honor. Additionally, Lythgoe was awarded the International Emmy Founders Award, presented to him in New York by Lady Gaga, recognizing him for his indelible imprint on the TV industry and a body of work that crosses cultural boundaries and speaks to our common humanity.
In 2009, the U.K.’s University of Bedfordshire awarded Dr. Lythgoe with an honorary Doctor of Arts for his outstanding contribution to the performing arts in television.
Also In 2009, Lythgoe helped to establish the Dizzy Feet Foundation, a nonprofit organization that works to support, improve and increase access to dance education in the United States in underprivileged communities
In 2010, Lythgoe created National Dance Day. Recognized by a Congressional resolution, National Dance Day falls on the last Saturday in July and promotes dance as part of a healthy, active lifestyle.
On May 10, 2014, Lythgoe was awarded the Ellis Island International Medal of Honor.
On June 12, 2015, he was named on Queen Elizabeth’s Birthday Honors List and awarded an OBE (Order of the British Empire) for his work in education, charity and the arts.
He serves on the Board of Directors for The Music Center, Turnaround Arts, LA’s Best and the University of Southern California Kaufman Board of Councilors.
Lythgoe resides in Los Angeles.