Reality TV inquiry launched as Jeremy Kyle Show axed after death of guest

Wednesday, May 15th, 2019 6:35pm

The Jeremy Kyle Show has been permanently cancelled after a guest reportedly took his own life.

ITV made the announcement this morning, confirming the show would not return following the death of Steve Dymond.

Following a meeting this afternoon, MPs announced an inquiry into the wider issues surrounding reality TV and duty of care, saying the shows "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".

A source told Sky News that staff at the show's office in Salford were "in floods of tears" after hearing about its cancellation, saying: "It's awful up there."

In a statement, chief executive Carolyn McCall 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."

The broadcaster said it would continue to work with Kyle, who is yet to comment, on other projects.

The decision to launch an inquiry was announced by digital, culture, media and sport committee chairman Damian Collins, who said in a statement: "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.

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"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 has faced criticism about its duty of care following the deaths of former Love Island stars Mike Thalassitis and Sophie Gradon.

Gradon, 32, hanged herself last year after drinking alcohol and taking cocaine, a coroner concluded in April. An inquest into Thalassitis's death is yet to take place.

Following the death of Thalassitis earlier this year, ITV said its "duty of care is a continuous and ongoing process for each (Love) Islander".

The announcement to cancel The Jeremy Kyle Show came after a huge public outcry.

Speaking to Sky News, media executive Greg Dyke said: "It was always a pretty unsavoury programme and it's amazing it lasted 15 years."

Shadow mental health minister Barbara Keeley told Sky News All Out Politics presenter Adam Boulton it was "clearly" the right decision to cancel the programme and that "serious questions" had to be asked.

The Jeremy Kyle Show was taken off air and initially suspended on Monday after news of Mr Dymond's death emerged.

The 63-year-old's body was found at an address in Grafton St, Portsmouth, on 9 May, a week after recording the show.

During the episode, which has not been aired and is now under review by ITV, he had taken a lie detector test to convince fiancee Jane Callaghan he had not been unfaithful, but was told he had failed.

It emerged on Tuesday that Mr Dymond had been the subject of an arrest warrant after he failed to attend a court hearing for non-payment of a fine.

Police have said his death is not being treated as suspicious.

Social media accounts for the show have been shut down, with its Facebook and Instagram pages no longer visible. The Twitter account, which has more than 380,000 followers, has been protected, which means the tweets are no longer visible.

Theresa May's spokesman has described the incident as "deeply concerning".

"Broadcasters and production companies have a responsibility for the mental health and wellbeing of participants and viewers of their programmes," the prime minister's spokesman said.

"We are clear they must have appropriate levels of support in place."

Ofcom has described Mr Dymond's death as "a very distressing case".

A spokesman for the broadcasting watchdog said: "Although we can only assess content that has been broadcast, we are discussing this programme with ITV as a priority to understand what took place."

Following Mr Dymond's death, ITV issued a statement about the support in place for guests on the programme.

"Prior to the show a comprehensive assessment is carried out by the guest welfare team on all potential contributors," it said.

"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.

"After filming has ended, all guests are seen by a member of the guest welfare team."

:: Anyone feeling emotionally distressed or suicidal can call Samaritans for help on 116 123 or email [email protected] in the UK. In the US, call the Samaritans branch in your area or 1 (800) 273-TALK

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