The 24-hour News Speculatron™ kicked into action as soon as news came on Monday that the Jeremy Kyle Show had been suspended by ITV following the death of a participant very soon after recording. By yesterday, we knew that all past episodes of the show had also been pulled - as well as the name of the dead man. And by this morning, rival papers were running competing stories as to whether the show was to blame, or not.
But, it seems, bosses at ITV had finally decided that The Only Way Was Out. And so it came to pass, as the Guardian has reported. “The Jeremy Kyle Show has been axed permanently by ITV after a participant died following an appearance on the show. Steve Dymond was found dead last week after failing a lie-detector test on the long-running daytime programme, prompting the show to be taken off air on Monday”.
There was more. “The decision to cancel the programme comes amid growing scrutiny of the aftercare offered to participants on reality TV programmes. There are also calls for greater understanding of the impact that appearances - often exacerbated by clips circulating on social media for long after the initial broadcast - can have on the mental health of those who take part”. Some will not be surprised to read that.
Not after the article from 2008 by Carole Cadwalladr for the Guardian’s sister title the Observer came to light, with one former ITV producer telling her “if they truly screened for mental health issues, there would be no one on that show. Almost everyone who goes on it has some sort of issue”. It was bear baiting TV. And it was a principle-free area.
As campaigner and former first responder Paul Dadge recalled, “Once contacted by the Jeremy Kyle team to go on a special around inspirational people. During convo the producer asked 1) Was I on benefits, 2) Was I known to Social Srvcs and ‘I'm sorry to ask you this and I know it's personal’ 3) Have you ever attempted suicide? Wasn't for me!”.
That much is bad enough, but what is worse is that, despite the show’s grim back catalogue - so grim it was pulled after the show was suspended - ITV, even then, were working on a salvage operation. After taking the decision to suspend, staff were told “This decision is 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 the death”.
This was confirmed by the Guardian. “The broadcaster had initially stuck by the programme. [ITV CEO Carolyn] McCall told staff on Monday the company had decided to cease production simply to ‘protect the show’ and its production team”. So when she also says “Everyone at ITV’s thoughts and sympathies are with the family and friends of Steve Dymond” there will be more than a little hollow laughter.
Paul Dadge’s revelation shows that ITV deliberately sought out the previously suicidal. Ms Cadwalladr’s article shows that the show’s producers knew that participants had mental health issues, yet went ahead and humiliated them anyway. The depths to which ITV sank in order to score some ratings are inexcusable. This is just plain flat wrong.
The Jeremy Kyle Show was for a time, but not for all time. Just rejoice at that news.
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