David Lyle, a longtime television executive who worked primarily in unscripted and reality TV, died Thursday from cancer. He was 67.
At the 2008 summer Television Critics Association summer press tour, in his remarks introducing the Fox Reality Channel’s presentation, David Lyle called reality TV “the cornerstone of modern television, like it or not.”
And he played key roles in helping reality television to become that.
Lyle had “30 years of international experience in television production with a unique expertise in unscripted entertainment and time spent as both a program buyer and seller,” as his NPACT bio says.
Lyle’s work was far-ranging and he was integrally involved with several major reality shows:
- He sold American Idol to Fox as FremantleMedia North America’s entertainment president
- He launched and presided over the Fox Reality Channel for five years.
- As CEO of National Geographic Channels, he launched his reality series such as Brain Games, Life Below Zero, and Wicked Tuna.
- He formed PactUS in 2015, the American version of an association of independent producers, and this year, merged it with the Nonfiction Producers Association to create NPACT.
- Earlier in his career, at Australia’s Nine, he developed and acquired Australian versions of shows such as Changing Rooms, aka Trading Spaces.
Lyle was eminently passionate about reality television. In 2005, he was quoted by a newspaper criticizing The Swan, and I highlighted that quotation.
He wrote to me to correct the record and defend the show, but in the most humble way possible: “I swear I didn’t say The Swan was ‘a worthless piece of television’. I hope I would never be that pompous.”
David Lyle obituaries
Here are several obituaries from trade publications:
- David Lyle, Veteran Executive and Reality TV Champion, Dies at 67 (Variety)
- David Lyle, Pioneering Reality TV Executive, Dies at 67 (Hollywood Reporter)
- David Lyle Dies: Former National Geographic CEO Was 67 (Deadline)
- David Lyle dies at 67 (C21 Media)