‘Nasty’ Nigel Lythgoe slams reality TV for going ‘too far’ and ‘disrupting families’

‘Nasty’ Nigel Lythgoe slams reality TV for going ‘too far’ and ‘disrupting families’

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TV’s original “Nasty” Nigel Lythgoe says reality TV has gone “too far” and is “disruptive to families”.

The former Popstars judge, famed for harsh putdowns including telling Kym Marsh to lose weight, was a pioneer of early reality TV who worked behind the scenes on Gladiators in the 90s before moving in front of the camera in 2001 on Popstars.

But now, the 71-year-old believes contestants face a “dangerous” world of social media populated by “disgusting” trolls by appearing on reality TV.

Speaking about the public’s appetite for modern reality shows, he compares Love Island to watching a boxing fight.

Nigel Lythgoe has given his verdict on reality TV in the modern age
(Image: Getty Images)

”There’s something dark in us that we want to watch this and think. ‘Thank God, that’s not me.’ or ‘How dare he say that?’” says Nigel. “There is something in us all that likes to see other people being beaten up – whether it’s on Love Island or in the boxing ring, as long as it’s not us.”

In the wake of two former Love Island contestants taking their own lives after appearing on the show, Nigel says social media trolls are “disgusting” and “dangerous”. “I know, people that have committed suicide from terrible things that they’ve heard or been called. It’s heartbreaking,” he says.

Nigel shared his views on shows such as Love Island
(Image: ITV/REX/Shutterstock)

“Everybody now has an opinion and can voice it without sticking their heads above the parapet. We don’t know who they are. They just say what the hell they like.

“It’s dangerous. They put themselves on these programmes then they don’t realise the repercussions that it’s having – some of the viewers aren’t necessarily stable.”

Nigel, who now lives in LA, defends broadcasters and says reality TV will continue while an appetite remains. “I think it’s gone too far, of course.

“Certain elements of it are disruptive for families and I don’t like that. But you don’t have to watch them. If you weren’t watching them, they wouldn’t be on because the broadcasters wouldn’t show them.”

Nigel Lythgoe attends a ceremony honoring him with a star on the Hollywood Walk Of Fame on July 09, 2021 in Hollywood, California
(Image: Getty Images)

He insists his straight-talking criticisms of bad singers on Popstars was “honest” rather than “nasty”. After the series, Nigel went on to produce Simon Cowell in Pop Idol and American Idol.

“It doesn’t have to be cruel, but I do think honesty is needed,” he says.

“That is what the business is like. The kids nowadays… it’s too easy to give yourself a little podcast and become what they call an influencer. It doesn’t require a great deal of talent. So that’s frustrating for me.”

Defending his comment to Hear’say’s Kym Marsh, he insists: “It changed her life for the better.”

He told her on camera: “Christmas may be gone but I see the goose is still fat.”

Nigel was joined by his son Simon for the big career moment of getting his Star
(Image: Getty Images)

Now, he explains: “The reason that I said that was to put a fire under them all. The record company had said to be that they’ve become really lazy over Christmas and they’ve eaten too much.

“It was Kym that turned around and said: ‘Are you calling me fat?’” he remembers. “I should have said: ‘Well if the shoe fits…. Yes, you have put on weight.’ And then she ran upstairs. And next to her bed was this box of Cadbury Roses chocolate.

“It was just time to say something. That’s certainly changed her life into looking fabulous.

“And then doing Coronation Street, putting out keep fit videos….

“Every now and again a little bit of honesty helps. I’m happy for her.

“I think she was hugely talented and she sounded to me like Karen Carpenter. Fabulous voice and lovely girl. Her great voice was tremendous.”

Nigel also looked back on his experience with Kym Marsh on the 2001 ITV show Popstars
(Image: LWT)

Kym has said she was “humiliated” during the incident, during which she stormed out.

The producer, who grew up in Liverpool, commissioned Gladiators in the 1990s, which he does not believe would appeal to modern audiences.

He also admits many of the games were “bloody dangerous”.

“Everything’s got a shelf-life,” he says. “I’m not sure that it would ever work coming back in that guise again.”

The show was rocked when Shadow (Jefferson King) was sacked for testing positive for steroids.

Nigel Lythgoe smiles with his Star for the Hollywood Walk of Fame
(Image: Getty Images)

“People always knew you didn’t get bodies like that from sleeping in growbags,” says Nigel. “We did so much testing – we did more testing on drugs than the international Olympics committee.”

The Emmy-award winning producer, who created So You Think You Can Dance in the US and worked on American Idol, was awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on Friday, where his sons and Priscilla Presley spoke.

He was convinced the honour was a prank when he first heard the news.

He added: “I never dreamt of even having one ever. It was originally going to be last year on April 1 but Covid stopped it. I thought we’re going to be getting an invitation saying ‘Hi, Nigel’s getting a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Come along on April Fool’s Day.’ I was asked where I wanted to have my star. And I said: ’On top of Simon Cowell’s.’”

A view of the covered star at a ceremony honoring Television Producer Nigel Lythgoe with a star on the Hollywood Walk Of Fame on July 09, 2021 in Hollywood
(Image: Getty Images)

The former dancer once danced in, choreographed, directed and produced the Royal Variety Performance.

Nigel, who received an OBE in 2015, has suffered two heart attacks and wears a pacemaker. He was also hospitalised when his intestine and appendix exploded.

“Now I suddenly realise I’m human and I’m going to die,” he says. “Whereas before sort of I was full of energy. I was indefatigable. I was never going to die.

“But that just made me want to fit more in before I go. I’ve still got a lot to do.”

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