Jeremy Kyle Show cancelled after suspected suicide

Sophie Hicks discusses the cancellation of ITV's divisive show...

Sophie Hicks
31st May 2019
Image- YouTube (Channel 4 News)

The most controversial British daytime TV staple has been cancelled: The Jeremy Kyle Show. After the suspected suicide of a participant, ITV has cancelled the show.

I admit, I have a mixed view of the show. As many other people, I watched The Jeremy Kyle Show when nothing else was on daytime TV. Although I can’t deny that it was entertaining, it was a terrible show. In terms of human rights, it was exploitive and mocked people because of their working-class backgrounds and circumstances that society disapproves of.

If we treat The Jeremy Kyle Show in this light, then many other shows need to be cancelled too

Instead of giving worthwhile help such as job opportunities, the show mocked them and their situations to create entertainment for the public, to make people who watch it feel better about their own lives. Frankly, that is disgusting.

The participants signed up to the show to better their lives, but in many ways, it probably made it worse for the people on the show because I doubt employers would want to hire them after seeing them argue on national TV. It became a beacon for elitists to use the working-class as scapegoats, using examples of people who exploited the benefits system for reason in favour to remove funding for everyone, even those who genuinely need it. ITV were probably looking for a way to cancel it for a while, but with ratings so high, there was little reason to do so. Until now, when a participant has suspected ended their own life after the breakdown of his relationship following a lie-detector test failure.

I support the decision to cancel the show because it was exploitative, but at the same time, it isn’t the only show to do so. If we treat The Jeremy Kyle Show in this light, then many other shows need to be cancelled too; The Jeremy Kyle Show is only the tip of the iceberg. It took one suicide to cancel The Jeremy Kyle Show, but Love Island has had two tragic suicides, yet has been renewed for a fifth season. Surely shows like Love Island are just as damaging to people’s mental health and need to be cancelled too? But if it isn’t the mental health, and a larger focus on exploiting people, then why are shows like Benefit Street still running? I just find it hypocritical to cancel The Jeremy Kyle Show when there are so many other more popular socially acceptable shows that are equally mentally damaging to participants.

So yes, cancelling The Jeremy Kyle Show is a good start to stop exploiting people on national TV. It took a suicide for ITV to pull the plug, after realising that the show’s outcome continues to haunt participants after filming. But if we treat Jeremy Kyle like this, then it’s only fair to treat other shows in the same manner, especially those with even bigger platforms. At the very least, there needs to be new regulations for after-support after being on these types of shows.

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AUTHOR: Sophie Hicks
Former TV Sub-Editor for The Courier and BA Media Communication and Cultural Studies graduate

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