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Ten years ago, a TV show called Popstars was created in New Zealand. So, as we gear ourselves up for the start of the sixth series of that show tomorrow night, and an autumn awash with reality talent shows - he prefers to call them 'factual entertainment' - does Lythgoe have even a twinge of conscience about the dumbing down of our airwaves? 'If the public didn't like them, they'd wither and die,' he says. Long before Simon Cowell became the meanest judge on the panel, it was Nigel who spluttered the most spectacular put-downs.

On a holiday with his wife Bonnie, British TV executive Nigel Lythgoe saw the Australian version, a format he brought back here. 'The opposite is true.' But what about the growing band of tear-stained winners, most of whom barely achieve even their 15 minutes of fame? Then, having made his name on British Popstars, Lythgoe moved to the U. and became as rich as Croesus producing American Idol and, currently, So You Think You Can Dance.

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He dated Elvis Presley’s ex-wife Priscilla between 20 and she is now dating Raquel’s fourth ex-husband, restaurant mogul Richard Palmer.

Raquel’s friend added: “She sees all this as serendipity.“She believes she and Nigel, who have known each other for years, were meant to be together all along and she is already talking about the possibility of him becoming husband number five.”Though separated for years as Lythgoe pursued his Hollywood dream after achieving fame as an acid-tongued judge on UK show Popstars, he and Bonnie, his wife of 26 years, did not finalise their divorce until 2010.“He is now free to tie the knot a second time,” a source close to him at Fox TV, which airs American Idol, declared.

They have been quietly dating for more than a month and a close friend of One Million Years B. icon Raquel, now 73, confirmed yesterday: “She finds Nigel fascinating and an absolute English gentleman.“Even though she is almost ten years older than him, she stills looks great and Nigel is so smitten he seems to almost worship the ground she walks on.

The chemistry between them is so strong, they are just going with it.”Astonishingly, their relationship has landed 64-year-old American Idol executive producer Lythgoe, who is also a judge on the US show So You Think You Can Dance, in the middle of a Hollywood romance swap.

'Raquel finds Nigel fascinating and an absolute English gentleman.

Even though she is almost ten years older than him, she stills looks great and Nigel is so smitten he seems to almost worship the ground she walks on,' the friend added.

It's a far cry from his modest upbringing in Wallasey, Merseyside.

'Yes, from backyard to vineyard,' muses Nigel, almost certainly not for the first time.

At 60, he's tall and slim with a set of pearly white teeth and a head of blond curls.

With the Californian sun behind him, he looks for all the world like Tommy Steele's younger brother.

It was actually all rather touching to witness and when they left he offered her his arm in a lovely old-fashioned way.”Lythgoe leapt into the big league of TV moguls in 2000 when he joined Simon Fuller’s 19 Entertainment empire to turn the Idol series into a worldwide franchise and now has an estimated net worth in excess of £130 million.

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