Entertainment & Arts

Jeremy Kyle: Calls for ITV show to be axed

Steven Dymond Image copyright Steve Dymond/Facebook
Image caption Steven Dymond took part in a recording for The Jeremy Kyle Show

MPs have called for The Jeremy Kyle Show to be axed after the death of a man who appeared on the programme.

Steven Dymond, 63, was found dead on 9 May following a recording of the ITV show during which he took a lie detector test.

Hampshire Police said his death was not being treated as suspicious.

Downing Street called the death "deeply concerning", and a former president of the Royal College of Psychiatrists said the show was "the theatre of cruelty".

ITV has already suspended both filming and broadcasting of The Jeremy Kyle Show, and the episode in question will not be screened.

The broadcaster said everyone at the show was "shocked and saddened" and "thoughts are with the family and friends".

An inquest into Mr Dymond's death is likely to be opened within the next few days, a spokeswoman for Portsmouth coroner's office said, and they are awaiting the result of the post-mortem investigation.

Commenting on the case, a spokesman for Prime Minister Theresa May said: "Broadcasters and production companies have a responsibility for the mental health and wellbeing of participants and viewers of their programmes.

"We are clear they must have appropriate levels of support in place."

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Media captionJeremy Kyle Show: Audience member recalls Steven Dymond episode

The pre-recorded episode Mr Dymond took part in was based on the subject of infidelity and it is understood he took a lie detector test.

A member of the audience who was at the recording, Babette, 20, told the BBC: "As soon as the test result was announced [Dymond] was already crying but he was shocked.

"His fiancee was heartbroken and sobbing. Steve couldn't believe it had come back as a fail.

"He was put into a position where his story was meant to be entertaining. I'm just shocked by it all."

Image copyright Shutterstock
Image caption About one million people watch The Jeremy Kyle Show every day

Speaking to The Sun, Mr Dymond's former fiancee Jane Callaghan said: "I know we split up a week ago but we were together for two years. I still loved him.

"We got engaged Christmas Day 2017. He was crying, the love was real. He was the most generous and loving person.

"He was quietly struggling, and we didn't know at the time. He cheated on me, I know he did. I can't forgive but I just want him to be alive."

Is it right to allow private trauma to become public spectacle?

The basic question prompted by Steve Dymond's death is whether the very genre of which Jeremy Kyle is the personification has any place on our screens.

Nobody doubts it is a commercial success. In a highly competitive market, the show has delivered solid ratings for years; and the fact that it has been on air for 14 years is testament to ITV's support for it.

But is it right to allow private trauma to become public spectacle? And is the ultimate result nothing less than the exploitation - for commercial gain at ITV, and for voyeuristic viewers - of highly vulnerable people?

Read more from Amol here.

Conservative MP Damian Collins, the chairman of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport select committee, has called on Ofcom to carry out an independent review into the duty of care policies in place at The Jeremy Kyle Show and others.

He told the BBC that the committee would discuss the issue at a private meeting on Wednesday.

Charles Walker MP, who has spoken openly about his own mental health issues, has urged ITV to axe The Jeremy Kyle Show for good.

He told the BBC it would be "extremely sensible" if ITV said "this has gone far enough", adding that it was "a watershed moment".

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Charles Walker says the TV we watch "is a reflection of ourselves".

Mr Walker, Conservative MP for Broxbourne and a member of the all-party parliamentary group on suicide and self-harm prevention, told the BBC that guests on The Jeremy Kyle Show were "not really guests, they're victims".

"I don't want to pile in on Jeremy Kyle because he probably feels bad enough, although obviously not as bad as the family… and this is a shared responsibility," Mr Walker said.

"None of this stuff would be made if nobody watched it."

Mr Walker, who has openly talked about having OCD, added: "Jeremy Kyle is a talented man who can do other things and go on to make other TV shows. The Jeremy Kyle Show will become just a memory.

"Societally, we have a responsibility for why this TV is made, it's a reflection of ourselves that it has been made and so many people watch it.

"It's cruel and there's enough cruelty in the world without showing it on TV."

Labour MP for Sunderland Central, Julie Elliott, agreed the programme should be culled, saying she has had "grave concerns" for some time about the way shows like The Jeremy Kyle Show "appear to exploit the most vulnerable in society".

And psychiatrist Sir Simon Wessely, who was president of the Royal College of Psychiatrists until 2017, said: "I think it should be dropped, actually. It's the theatre of cruelty.

"And yes, it might entertain a million people a day, but then again, so did Christians versus Lions."

The Jeremy Kyle Show is the most popular programme on ITV's daytime schedule, with an average of one million viewers and a 22% audience share.

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Media captionFormer ITV chairman Michael Grade: 'ITV is right to take the show off air'

All previous episodes of the show have been taken down from the channel's catch-up service, ITV Hub. Episodes will not air on ITV2 either.

In an email to staff, ITV boss Dame Carolyn McCall said the decision to take the show off air was "not in any way a reflection on the show, but the best way we think we can protect the show and the production team from the reaction we expect to this death".

White Dee, as she became known after finding fame on documentary series Benefits Street, defended the show, following an appearance in February.

"I received an awful lot of pre-show care along with a good bit of after-show care," she told BBC Radio 5 Live, adding it was "a very positive experience".

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption White Dee took part in a Jeremy Kyle special on the price of fame

ITV said in a statement: "The Jeremy Kyle Show has significant and detailed duty of care processes in place for contributors pre, during and post-show which have been built up over 14 years, and there have been numerous positive outcomes from this, including parties who have resolved complex and long-standing personal problems."

ITV's former executive chairman Michael Grade told the BBC he thought ITV has "handled it immaculately".

"I don't think it hurts ITV, they've got a hole in the schedule, they've got some very creative people, they'll come up with some new format, some new idea, it's an opportunity. But they're absolutely right to have taken the programme off the air."

Media watchdog Ofcom said on Monday that it was a "very distressing case" and it was in discussion with ITV to understand what took place - but it can only assess content that has been broadcast.

The Jeremy Kyle Show has been broadcast in its mid-morning slot since 2005. Its guests discuss relationship issues and conflicts with each other in front of Kyle's studio audience.

It is well-known for its often heated debates, with Kyle mediating between guests.

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Media captionPsychologist Honey Langcaster-James: TV producers are well-meaning but are not mental health care experts.

Psychologist Honey Langcaster-James, who has worked on various reality TV shows over the last 15 years, told BBC Breakfast that care of TV guests had improved in general but added there was still work to be done.

"One of the difficulties comes from the fact that even though producers want to help, they don't always understand how psychological services work," she said.


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