The Jeremy Kyle Show has always divided public opinion. After the death of a guest on the show, the programme was suspended.
Steve Dymond took his own life, shortly after failing a lie detector on the Jeremy Kyle Show. The incident was so serious, that the programme was taken off air permanently. This prompted a debate about how ethical the show was and if it should have been taken off television a lot sooner.
Three people representing The Jeremy Kyle Show appeared before MPs at the end of last month as part of a much-needed inquiry into the show. These people were ITV Studios Managing Director Julian Bellamy, Executive Producer Tom McLennan and Head of Aftercare Graham Stanier.
During the meeting, MPs on the committee grilled Stanier and McLennan on the accuracy of the lie detector test results. One of the most interesting parts of the meeting was the fact that none of the three men representing The Jeremy Kyle Show seemed to know the percentage of accuracy of those results.
It’s known by viewers of the recently-axed show that the lie detector was one of the main parts of the programme. Lives could be made or destroyed by this test. The case that caused the cancellation of the show proved that. The people on the panel and other people involved in the Jeremy Kyle show were clearly not properly held to account over this issue before Members of Parliament intervened over this. ITV had a duty of care with their guests on the show and this was clearly neglected for the purpose of creating car-crash television.
People will argue that there is a clear warning about the accuracy of lie detectors on screen every time a test is about to be read out. He believed in this test, as stated at the MPs’ committee meeting with the three people representing Jeremy Kyle. However, no matter what his views are, Kyle should not have taken the tests as gospel; something which he did numerous times.
This style of presenting from Jeremy provoked an increased level of reaction from the studio audience, influencing millions at home who watched the show. Louder gasps and reactions were heard amongst the audience because Jeremy’s attitude towards the test was that it was 100 per cent accurate. Whilst covering for himself, he participated in falsely portraying other guests, whose test may have been inaccurate.
To create a sense of tension and drama, Jeremy often said ‘this test says you’re a liar’, as opposed to just ‘you’re a liar’. The presenter should have made it clear that the test is never 100 per cent correct. However, if he ever did this, it was very infrequent and the burden of responsibility as a presenter was on him to inform his guests. What’s more, Kyle should have been at that MPs’ meeting in order to explain himself.
Damian Lewis, who was Chair of that meeting, said that people who fail to give evidence (like Kyle) should face prosecution and possible prison time. Whilst that might be quite a harsh statement, I still find it disgraceful that Kyle was absent to justify his actions.
Another issue is the Jeremy Kyle YouTube channel. Whilst a lot of touching videos were uploaded, like snippets of family reunions that have already been broadcast on the show, there were also repeats of sensitive stories that stayed on the internet for years on that channel. Some of these videos were lie-detector compilations — of a test we now know to be even less accurate than originally thought.
The fact that some of these videos were up on the internet for years through that channel, could have been quite damaging to many individuals who suffered a pounding on the show. If the show were not broadcast and then also uploaded to YouTube, appearances by certain people couldn’t have been easily shared on social media.
Platforms like Twitter and Facebook make it easy for people to share Jeremy Kyle’s YouTube channel videos and voice their opinions on them, or in some cases, ridicule the people in the videos. With trolling still being a serious issue on the internet, I feel it was irresponsible of the show to upload so much content without filtering it. Many of these videos reached millions of views and the channel itself was very popular. It’s a relief to know that it has now been closed down.
The theme throughout this article has been the same: the damage to reputations. A reputation is so consequential. It can determine your job chances, your friends and your future. Key objections to the show, that should have been raised long ago, were voiced in that meeting. This investigation is exactly what is needed, to begin setting things right.
ITV have given us many great shows, but it was the right call to cancel this one before any more damage is done.
Other relevant issues that came up, such as aftercare and preparing the guests, can be found here.