MPs write to TV boss over Jeremy Kyle's 'provacative' behaviour

MPs have called on the boss of ITV Studios to explain Jeremy Kyle's "provocative" behaviour towards contributors.

Friday, 18th October 2019, 2:04 pm
Updated Friday, 18th October 2019, 2:04 pm
(Photo by Anthony Harvey/Getty Images)

ITV axed The Jeremy Kyle Show in May, following the death of participant Steve Dymond.

Now Damian Collins, chairman of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport select committee, has written to the managing director of ITV Studios, which produced the talk show, seeking "further clarification of its treatment" of contestants.

The committee's reality TV inquiry watched unedited footage of an edition of the now defunct show.

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It has asked ITV Studios' boss Julian Bellamy about the presenter's use of "demeaning and insulting language", calling it "highly unethical".

MPs want to know about the way Kyle "is seen criticising a contributor as she answers a question relating to her sexual partners. "

"This serves to humiliate and denigrate a woman on the basis of her sexual behaviour. Does ITV Studios condone this approach exhibited by Jeremy Kyle?," the letter states.

MPs also ask whether the controversial presenter faced "any consequences for the language he used while filming?"

It asks, "Do you accept that this level of provocation, towards often vulnerable contributors with no TV experience, is highly unethical?"

A standard letter banned contributors from aggression and swearing but "in rushes viewed by MPs, Kyle uses demeaning and insulting language to a contributor, and in relation to their partner."

The letter asks: "Why is it one rule for the presenter, and one for contributors?"

In one of the rushes MPs' watched, Kyle instructs audience members on how to "boo" and shout "off-off-off" to a contributor".

The letter asks, "Do you accept that Jeremy Kyle at times demeaned and humiliated contributors, setting a power dynamic via his body language by standing over them, and using mockery and insulting language?

It also asks: "In the rushes we have seen, there is an interaction between Jeremy Kyle and the crew in which the presenter states 'I'm right aren't I'? and to which a member of the crew responds 'You're always right'.

"This implies that the crew, floor managers and directors do not attempt to question Jeremy Kyle's behaviours."

Presenter Kyle has been asked to appear before MPs but has not done so.

And the letter comes after MPs criticised TV bosses for not knowing enough about lie detector tests.

Mr Dymond, 63, died around a week after reportedly failing a love-cheat lie detector test on Kyle's confrontational daytime programme.

The construction worker was found dead in his room in Portsmouth on May 9 after splitting from on-off fiancee Jane Callaghan.

In September, a former guest told MPs he attempted suicide after being vilified on the show.

Guests were kept in locked rooms backstage and given no aftercare, it was claimed.

Former "most-hated" participant Dwayne Davison said his post-show care was a one-minute phone call and his taxi fare home, after having his possessions taken away and being confined for 10 hours.

Fellow guest Robert Gregory said he was brought on the ITV daytime programme to be "crucified" by Kyle over a fabricated family incident.

A spokeswoman for ITV previously responded: "As a producer and broadcaster ITV takes its responsibilities around duty of care to participants very seriously.

"Supporting the physical and mental health of everyone involved in our programmes is our highest priority."

Fellow ITV show Love Island also came under increased scrutiny over the aftercare it offers following the deaths of former contestants Sophie Gradon and Mike Thalassitis.

ITV Studios has been asked to respond by October 25.

By Sherna Noah, PA Senior Entertainment Correspondent