Six shocking revelations from Jeremy Kyle Show: Death On Daytime
The documentary aired on Channel 4 last night (13th March)
In 2019, the Jeremy Kyle Show abruptly came to an end after 14 years on air. It had been revealed that a guest – 63-year-old Steve Dymond – had died by suicide just days after appearing in an unbroadcast episode. Multiple campaigns called for an end to the talk show, as well as a government report on the production team’s conduct.
Last night (13th March), Channel 4 aired a documentary detailing the dark underbelly of the popular programme. Former guests, MPs, family members and ITV whistleblowers opened up about their experiences with the show. While Jeremy Kyle didn’t respond to Channel 4’s right-to-reply, ITV said: “ITV would never condone any of its production staff misleading or lying to guests. All guests on the Jeremy Kyle Show were aware of the nature of the show and the presenter’s style before taking part in recording.”
The documentary made a number of distressing claims about the production process. These were the most shocking:
The ‘lie detector test’ was allegedly only 66 per cent accurate
The Jeremy Kyle Show’s staple segment – the “lie detector test” – has been proven to ruin lives. Steve Dymond took his own life after a test “proved” he’d been unfaithful to his fiancée Jane, despite consistently insisting before, during and after the show he hadn’t.
None of the producers and whistleblowers included in the documentary could say for certain how accurate the readings were, with most of them guessing around “97 per cent.”
Conservative MP Damian Collins, who conducted a government inquiry into the death of Steve Dymond, stated: “Professor Ray Bull of Derby University said he believed – even in perfect conditions with a trained expert using the machine – the test was, at best, a 66 to 70 per cent chance of an accurate score.”
Production pitted people with addiction problems against each other
The mother of Kristie Bishop, a woman in her 30s who sought treatment for her heroin addiction on the Jeremy Kyle Show, featured on the documentary. She spoke out against the programme’s treatment of her daughter – who was then at her most vulnerable. Archived footage showed Kyle branding Kristie a “disgrace to society.”
Dominique Bishop teared up as she watched the talkRADIO presenter laying into her daughter. “He’s so condescending, so disrespectful,” she said. The mum also claimed the show had a bizarre way of recruiting people with addiction problems to feature on the show:
“We were told there were several families going for a place at rehab,” she said. “And that we had to fight for that place. The most desperate family would get that help.”
A producer – played by an actor in the documentary – corroborated this. “The lie would come. You’d tell the addict and their families that there were three other families going onstage; it’s a fight for that one bed. Jeremy’s going to go out there and pick who he wants.
It was to get the emotion onstage. They were always going to get the place.”
They viewed working class people as ‘easy to lie to’
While speaking on the alleged rehab “competition,” another producer noted a class divide in the way production tactics were applied: “What’s awful is when you would have a more ‘normal’ family, like Dominique, you’d always shit yourself because you’d be under this impression that the working class people weren’t as clever. They wouldn’t have questioned you.
“Jeremy would make comments to the guests, insinuating they were thick or that they were scruffs.”
The documentary then followed up with an un-broadcast clip of Kyle saying: “They’re terrible fucking guests. You’ve done it again. They’re as thick as shit.”
Crew members would ‘say anything’ to convince people to come on the show
Former guest David Staniforth accused the production crew of “goading and persuading” people to go on, even when they didn’t want to. He alleged one crew member blatantly lied to him, having stated David’s wife would “publicly ask for my forgiveness,” when this wasn’t the case. A producer said: “It was so difficult (to get guests on the show). We couldn’t find anybody. It definitely got harder over time.”
Another whistleblower claimed: “We essentially just badgered and badgered them until they gave in. It’d take like, four or five times calling them and then they’d suddenly go, ‘fuck it, let’s just get it done.”
A third producer accused recruiters of using “reverse psychology” on people who expressed interest in going on, saying “there’s usually a six-week waiting list” but they’ll let them on “tomorrow… because (Jeremy) knows how much this means to you.”
Producers were specially ‘trained’ to rile guests up before filming
In March 2007, David Staniforth was caught on camera headbutting his wife’s lover while they were guests on the show. While the episode never aired, David and his son opened up about his experience behind the scenes:
“There were certain buttons that were pressed on that day, that shouldn’t have been pressed,” the former guest said. “It was like somebody had opened a great big wound. You don’t doubt a fire by chucking petrol on it.”
“As soon as we entered the building,” David’s son said, “there was always someone there trying to wind them up.”
One producer said: “You all get trained at (winding people up).”
Steve Dymond wasn’t the first guest to die by suicide
An early Jeremy Kyle Show guest, Erica Pawson, died in 2005. She’d first expressed interest in the show after believing it’d “solve her marriage problems,” and wanted to air some of the abuse she’d suffered as a child to a professional. Family friends described her in the documentary as “anxious… extremely vulnerable.”
Erica’s widower accused the show of “bullying” her and asking leading questions, to the point where she felt she had to “say yes” to anything. Just a few days later, she was found dead.
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Featured image via Channel 4.