Jeremy Kyle Show Cancelled and Inquiry Launched Into Mental Health Impact and Duty of Care

Lucy Donoughue
By Lucy Donoughue,
updated on May 15, 2019

Jeremy Kyle Show Cancelled and Inquiry Launched Into Mental Health Impact and Duty of Care

Following the death of a guest from the Jeremy Kyle Show, ITV have announced that the popular daytime programme will no longer be produced and the Government have opened an inquiry to consider production companies’ duty of care to participants

Steve Dymond, a guest on The Jeremy Kyle Show, died last Thursday, a week after filming for the channel. After temporarily suspending the programme, ITV have today made the decision to end production which has been on our screens since 2005 and brings in 22% of the audience share for the daytime schedule, equating to roughly a million viewers per episode.

In a statement about the cancellation, Carolyn McCall, ITV’s CEO, said; "Given the gravity of recent events we have decided to end production of The Jeremy Kyle Show. The Jeremy Kyle Show has had a loyal audience and has been made by a dedicated production team for 14 years, but now is the right time for the show to end. Everyone at ITV's thoughts and sympathies are with the family and friends of Steve Dymond."

Now, the Goverment's Department For Culture Media and Sport (DCMS) Select Committee has announced that they are launching an inquiry into reality tv; "after the death of a guest following filming for The Jeremy Kyle Show and the deaths of two former contestants in the reality dating show Love Island."

DCMS Committee Chair Damian Collins MP said earlier today: "ITV has made the right decision to permanently cancel the Jeremy Kyle Show. However, that should not be the end of the matter. There needs to be an independent review of the duty of care TV companies have to participants in reality TV shows and the DCMS select committee has decided to hold an inquiry this summer into these issues.

"Programmes like The Jeremy Kyle Show risk putting people who might be vulnerable on to a public stage at a point in their lives when they are unable to foresee the consequences, either for themselves or their families. This kind of TV featuring members of the public attracts viewing figures in the millions but in return for ratings, the broadcasters must demonstrate their duty of care to the people whose personal lives are being exposed.

"With an increasing demand for this type of programming, we’ll be examining broadcasting regulation in this area – is it fit for purpose?"

The inquiry will seek to answer a wide number of questions and challenges including; what psychological support do production companies and broadcasters provide to participants in reality TV shows before, during and after the production process,who should be responsible for monitoring whether duty of care policies are being applied effectively and whether design formats for reality shows put unfair psychological pressure on participants and encourage more extreme behaviour.

While the inquiry is being welcomed by some, for others the belief is that this comes too late. Over the past decade, there have been many concerns about the treatment of guests on the show and the subsequent mental health impact upon them. There have been repeated concerns raised about the programme's format of berating, belittling and humiliating.

Carole Cadwalladr questioned the ethics of The Jeremy Kyle Show back in 2008, writing specifically about the techniques of presenting the show for The Guardian: "Kyle's masterstroke is that he's not simply a presenter, or in Springer's case, a ringmaster: he takes sides. He decides who is right and who is wrong. And then he gives his guests the wisdom of his opinions. Whether they want it or not.

"It is the blinding clarity of Kyle's moral universe that is so attractive. He separates right from wrong and comes down squarely on the side of right. Messy, complex issues are reduced to a soundbite that scrolls across the bottom of the screen: 'My husband slept with my daughter! Lie detector results' for example.

"The show is built around creating a spectacle out of the damaged fragments of people's lives. Every morning there's a fresh dose of broken, awful, ugly, desperate lives served up for our, the viewing public's, delectation."

In 2013, published an open letter to Graham Stanier - the Director of Aftercare on the Jeremy Kyle Show, drawing attention to BACP Standards of Conduct, Performance, and Ethics, asking; "...interested to know how you think your role on the Jeremy Kyle fits within the codes of practice that presumably to claim to work within. As a qualified and experienced healthcare professional surely your first thoughts should be the welfare of the people you work with?"

"The same core themes are apparent day in day out. It appears that the central idea of the programme is the ridicule and vilification of working class people... Particular venom is saved for women who may have had the audacity to have more than one sexual partner during their lifetime, and for people who have claimed benefits. Is it any wonder that prejudice towards people who have fallen on hard times, lost their jobs, or have a disability is on the rise when people like Jeremy Kyle continues to espouse his hatred towards them?"

Yesterday, prior to the announcement of the DCMS Comittee enquiry, ITV issued a statement specifically addressing concerns about duty of care and mental health, explaining: "ITV has many years experience of broadcasting and creating programmes featuring members of the public and each of our productions has duty of care measures in place for contributors. These will be dependent on the type of show and will be proportionate for the level of activity of each contributor and upon the individual. All of our processes are regularly reviewed to ensure that they are fit for purpose in an ever-changing landscape.

"In the case of The Jeremy Kyle Show, the programme 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 people who have resolved complex and long-standing personal problems.

"Prior to the show a comprehensive assessment is carried out by the guest welfare team on all potential contributors. The guest welfare team consists of four members of staff, one consultant psychotherapist and three mental health nurses.

"The guests are interviewed by guest welfare face-to-face at studios and prior to filming. Throughout filming the participants are supported by the guest welfare team in the studios during the recording phase of their show. After filming has ended all guests are seen by a member of the guest welfare team to ensure they are feeling calm and emotionally settled before any participant leaves to travel home.

"An evaluation of their needs is also carried out at this time and should they require any ongoing service regarding the problem they discussed on the show then appropriate solutions are found for them. This could include residential rehabilitation, counselling, anger management, family mediation, child access mediation or couple counselling for example.

"The day after recording of the show the participant will be contacted by production to carry out a welfare check and provide details of the services that have been sourced for them. The production team keep in touch with the participants in the days between recording and transmission and participants are given a production mobile contact number should they need to contact the show at any point following transmission."

Mental Health Experts Comments

Counselling Directory member and relationship expert Pam Custers, said: "In my opinion, the Jeremy Kyle show entices people onto the programme in the hope that they will get access to support, counselling or rehab.

"However, the passage they have to go through is a very difficult one. They are lambasted before they are given the support they need. Its a very high price to pay for help - national public humiliation."

While Counselling Directory member, Psychologist Philip Karahassan said: "In one respect, we understand that this is television and therefore entertainment. Jeremy Kyle has allowed some issues around mental health to be surfaced on popular TV and has prompted conversations that may not ordinarily have happened.

"I understand that The Jeremy Kyle Show has a professional mental health team, led by Graham Stanier, dedicated to aftercare and therefore mental health and duty of care will be a major consideration within the production. However, there is a contradiction between this and format of shouting, blaming and shaming that we see - which makes up the entertainment element of the show, and this is the part that draws in many viewers."

DCMS Commitee Inquiry

DCMS are inviting evidence from the public, organisations and others with relevant expertise, on the issues outlined here.The deadline for submitting evidence is Thursday 13 June at 5pm.

Further comments and updates will be added to this article as they are received

If you are experiencing suicidal thoughts or are worried about someone, know that support is available. For support, you can call Samaritans for free on 116 123. If you believe you are in immediate danger to yourself or others, call 999.

For more information about mental health and the support available, visit Counselling Directory. You can also search for therapists in your area by entering your location in the box below.

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