The death of a Jeremy Kyle Show guest has prompted a parliamentary inquiry into reality TV.
The Commons Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee (DCMS) has announced it will be conducting an independent review of care processes on shows in the genre.
It follows the cancellation of The Jeremy Kyle Show on Wednesday, in light of the death of participant Steve Dymond.
The investigation will establish what psychological support production companies and broadcasters are currently offering contributors, how these can be improved, where responsibility lies in providing these services, and what the future holds for reality TV.
DCMS committee chairman Damian Collins said in a statement: “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?”
Jeremy Kyle Show guest Steve Dymond died shortly after filming an appearance earlier this month, where it was reported he took a lie-detector test to convince fiancee Jane Callaghan he had not been unfaithful, but was told he had failed the test.
News of Mr Dymond’s death led to ITV making the decision to axe the show for good after 14 years on air, having initially suspended it from broadcast and production pending a review earlier this week.
Their deaths sparked debate about the level of aftercare contestants receive, with ITV later announcing a raft of changes to their processes, including the introduction of social media and financial management training.
Prior to the announcement they were axing Jeremy Kyle, ITV issued a full statement detailing their “significant and detailed” duty of care plan on the daytime series.
A spokesperson has insisted all guests were put through a “comprehensive assessment” prior to their appearance, while the production team regularly check-in with them to find “appropriate solutions” to any issues they discussed.
They said: “In the case of The Jeremy Kyle Show, the programme has significant and detailed duty of care processes in place for contributors pre, during and post show which have been built up over 14 years, and there have been numerous positive outcomes from this, including people who have resolved complex and long-standing personal problems.”
Useful websites and helplines:
- Mind, open Monday to Friday, 9am-6pm on 0300 123 3393
- Samaritans offers a listening service which is open 24 hours a day, on 116 123 (UK and ROI - this number is FREE to call and will not appear on your phone bill.)
- The Mix is a free support service for people under 25. Call 0808 808 4994 or email: email@example.com
- Rethink Mental Illness offers practical help through its advice line which can be reached on 0300 5000 927 (open Monday to Friday 10am-4pm). More info can be found on www.rethink.org.