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“With us, you get one or two bad dancers and we love them because it’s all the fun of the fair. It takes athletes and gymnasts to do it.” While the contestants must be aged between 18 and 35, the only other confirmed judge on BBC One’s version of the show is Arlene Phillips, 66 – whose sacking as a judge on Strictly Come Dancing reignited the controversy about ageism in TV.
“Arlene was doing Hot Gossip when I was choreographing the Young Generation,” says Lythgoe, 60. And I needed somebody who was slightly older than me, so I’d feel younger – and that’s Arlene.” Lythgoe dismisses the charge of ageism against the BBC, pointing out that 65-year-old Len Goodman still heads the judging panel on Strictly.
And being able to call football ‘football’, not ‘soccer’.” With his tan, his drivetime hairdo and the flash of his Cowell-white teeth, Lythgoe looks every inch the Hollywood TV producer.
There will be a panel of three judges, with Lythgoe head judge.
“On So You Think You Can Dance, our young dancers are sexy, they’re hot, they’re passionate,” he says – but contends that even those feisty contestants value the input of a “judiciary” that has age and experience.
“If I was a young kid, I’d want to be judged by somebody who’s been around, who knows what they’re talking about.
“That for me was a tongue-in-cheek remark,” he says.
“It’s very sensitive here [in the US], as I found out, and I made my apologies. I didn’t like to see – and I think it’s alienating – two guys caressing each other on a family programme.