Wednesday 25 April 2018

William and Nigel Lythgoe OBE discuss Cilla Black funeral

Nigel Lythgoe after receiving an OBE during an Investiture ceremony at Windsor Castle
Nigel Lythgoe after receiving an OBE during an Investiture ceremony at Windsor Castle
Stevie Wonder's manager Keith Harris was honoured with an OBE

TV talent show judge Nigel Lythgoe said the Duke of Cambridge asked about Cilla Black's funeral when he presented the talent show judge with his OBE at Windsor Castle today.

Cilla Black was found dead at her Spanish villa on August 1 and her funeral, held in Liverpool nearly three weeks later, was attended by many famous faces from the British television industry.

Mr Lythgoe said: "The Duke asked me about Cilla's funeral - he knew I had been - and I told him all about how funny Paul O'Grady was and how the Bishop of Liverpool had told him to say three Hail Marys before he went to bed, which made the Duke laugh.

"When the Prince bought her up I thought to myself 'Cilla would have been proud' but of course she was herself an OBE."

The 65-year-old, originally from the Wirral, has lived in Los Angeles for the past 15 years and made his name producing hit series American Idol before moving back in front of the camera as a judge on So You Think You Can Dance.

He said: "It feels fantastic, I'm very very proud. Everyone is joking in America about it saying 'does OBE stand for Old British Entertainer'.

"It's nice to be back, though - I miss the food! People always knock it but in LA it's only salads that don't taste of anything. Here I just had a pork sausage in batter and I loved it."

Famously dubbed 'nasty Nigel' in Britain for his stint as a judge on Popstars, Lythgoe admits a lot has changed since the first days of talent show TV.

He said: "People are still watching X Factor, Britain's Got Talent, The Voice but it's become more about the judges than the contestants. On The Voice there's a lot of great banter between the judges.

"When Idol and Popstars started it was much more about the talent and you had to like the people rather than knowing about the judges.

"We were just there to say 'you got the right notes, you just put them in the wrong order'. So it is more about the judges but at the end of the day the talent is still there."

Another entertainment industry figure receiving an OBE was Stevie Wonder's manager Keith Harris.

After stints at EMI Records and Motown in the 70s, Harris stared his own management company in 1982 and has represented Wonder ever since.

He said: "I was relieved to get through the ceremony without making any major mistakes, to be honest. I was afraid I might do something like trip up and headbutt the Prince."

He added: "The Prince said he was a fan of Stevie Wonder's music. I've worked with Stevie for around 38 years, he is a great guy. But because we've known each other so long its hard for me to react to people seeing him as 'the Stevie Wonder'."

When asked what Wonder thought of his getting the award, Harris said: "He doesn't know yet actually, I thought I'd tell him afterwards. I sent him a text but I didn't bother to make sure he received it so I'm not sure he knows."

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