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 being a creator, executive producer and a regular judge for So You Think You Can Dance. He was also creator of the 2009 competition Superstars of Dance.
Born in Wirral, England to dockworker, George Percival Lythgoe and mother Gertrude Emily Lythgoe, he became interested in dance at the age of 10. He began 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. Lythgoe's 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. Beginning in 1969, Lythgoe performed with the BBC's "Young Generation" dance troupe. He later became their choreographer in 1971 and has choreographed over 500 television shows.
Early in Lythgoe's career, he learned to use techniques (e.g. multi-cameras) to film choreography well, a skill that would later lead to a TV career. 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. Lythgoe, in an interview with People said that he was "the only person to dance, choreograph, produce and direct the Royal Variety Performance."