The fall of Jeremy Kyle – Immie Pearson

The Jeremy Kyle show which has been running on itv for fourteen years, has been cancelled indefinitely after a guest who appeared on the show Steve Dymond, committed suicide just days after his appearance. Steve (62), in his episode that didn’t air, supposedly failed a lie detector test about cheating on his fiancé Jane.  

The Jeremy Kyle show, will never be known as high class entertainment, but it was easy viewing, most people will have either watched it now and then, when they were bored, or even tuned in to it religiously. Kyle’s tough talking no nonsense attitude had a way of reeling a viewer in, along with the often comical nature of the predicaments guests found themselves in, such as ‘I’ll prove I didn’t smash your shire horse – can you prove you didn’t smash my car?’ This combined with the seeming moments of genuine compassion from Kyle, it could be argued it was generally a harmless show. Jeremy would praise his aftercare team for being ‘brilliant’ as well as the close connections he had with people who would take struggling guests to rehab. 

Initially it seemed that ITV were quick to pull the show because they were being cautious after the two suicides of contestants on their now infamous reality tv show ‘Love Island’, Sophie Gradon (June 2018) and Mike Thalassitis (March 2019), and were conducting damage control as not to receive backlash. Some people criticised ITV saying if Jeremy Kyle was axed after one guest committed suicde, Love Island should have definitely been cancelled after two. This is a very valid point, but recent information has emerged, after an investigation conducted for a soon to air Channel 4 documentary, makes it seem the J.K show was a lot more sinister than it first appeared. 

Dispatches (documentary series), said many high-up members of staff and numerous guests have come forward to criticise the aftercare on the show, some branding it ‘non-existent’. This seems bad enough seeing as Jeremy would profess to have amazing aftercare, and taking into account many of the guests were extremely vulnerable with drug and alcohol problems, having no aftercare is negligent and irresponsible. I have to admit, I used to occasionally watch the Jeremy Kyle show and often found myself finding it very comical, but at some point I realised that essentially these people are having their problems laughed at by a nation, admittedly they chose to come on the show, but their problems no matter how ludicrous they seemed, were extremely real to them. They were real people, not circus clowns there for other people’s entertainment.

The problems move from the negligent to the immoral, Dispatches also spoke to a producer, who remained anonymous, who told reporter Morland Sanders, guests with drug abuse problems were often encouraged to visit their dealers, with it being paid for by production. The producer also said ‘Researchers and APs and sometimes producers would smoke weed with guests in the hotels the day before to keep them happy. If guests were becoming flakey they’d appease them in any way they could’. (Metro)  Essentially the staff went to despicable lengths to Make good television. 

These awful methods also included ‘talking up’, which is where staff members would be told to rile up guests before they went on stage. On reflection, this seems to make sense, when watching it would seem absurd how some guests were aggravated and aggressive immediately when coming on stage. Moreover something that became synonymous with an episode of the show, would be guest running back stage, with Kyle often referring to it as ‘The Kyle Olympics’. The same anonymous producers said of this ‘Behind the scenes they created a kind of maze. It’s so of the guest run off stage it’s a controlled environment. The cameraman knows where to go. The guests won’t be able to find their way out because it all looks the same.’ This calculated method to create more entertaining scenes, it points generally seems very distressing for the guests who often would become very overwhelmed to the point of tears. 

Last week Kyle was called to parliament to appear in front of MPs to discuss how guests were treated on his show, as the commons committee holds an inquiry into reality tv after the death of participants. The only comment from Kyle has been that he and his team are ‘extremely devastated’ by the recent events. It seems impossible that Kyle would not have been aware of what was happening after fourteen years. 

Steve Dymond was laid to rest on the 13th of this month at Kingston Cemetery in Portsmouth, with only five mourners attending, his ex-fiancé Jane Callaghan attended and laid a single rose on his coffin while crying throughout the short service.

Steve Dymond (1957-2019)

As is to be expected, officials from the show vehemently denied the allegations of misconduct and abuse. Despite this, I am sure most would agree with me when I say it is a good thing this ill-fated show has come to an end, and hopefully will result in much better aftercare and regulations on reality tv shows in the future. 

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