We all love watching shows like Maury and The Jerry Springer Show, mainly because of how dramatic they can be. People who have complicated lives turn to these shows to get answers when they have exhausted all other options. In the UK, the show people go to is The Jeremy Kyle Show, which has been known to be extremely controversial in the past. However, the show has now been canceled after a guest committed suicide following an unfavorable lie detector test.
Steve Dymond, 63, took his own life after he failed a lie detector test on the show, proving he had cheated on his fiancee. Dymond’s son, Carl Woolley, said his father was extremely distraught over the result on the show. Wooley and Dymond hadn’t spoken for seven years, but the son was contacted after the taping of the show by a concerned family member, as his father was “highly emotional.”
“I called after he got home from filming the episode,” Wooley said. “He was distraught over the break-up of the relationship. He had gone on the show solely to clear his name [about allegedly cheating on Ms Callaghan] but he said it had gone wrong because of the lie detector test. Steve told me ‘Kyle really laid into me’. Presumably that was at the point when they announced the lie detector result.”
Dymond’s body was found on May 9th, and police say the death is not being treated as suspicious. Immediately after the news broke, calls were made to cancel The Jeremy Kyle Show. The Prime Minister’s spokesperson said Dymond’s death was “a deeply concerning case.”
“Broadcasters and production companies have a responsibility for the mental health and wellbeing of participants and viewers of their programmes,” the spokesman said. “We are clear they must have appropriate levels of support in place.”
The controversy was large enough that ITV, the network which airs the show, announced it has been canceled.
“Given the gravity of recent events we have decided to end production of The Jeremy Kyle Show,” ITV’s CEO Carolyn McCall said in a statement. “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.”
The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport committee addressed the cancelation, but noted that more needs to be done about these shows that exploit families.
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?
ITV also made it clear that there is a process when it comes to selecting people who are on their shows.
“The guests are interviewed by guest welfare face-to-face at studios and prior to filming,” a spokeswoman for the network said. “Throughout filming, the participants are supported by the guest welfare team. After filming has ended, all guests are seen by a member of the guest welfare team.”
It’s an interesting topic of conversation: even though these people agree to be on a TV show that could potentially expose their secrets, should the shows be there to begin with?