British broadcaster ITV has cancelled “The Jeremy Kyle Show”, a tabloid talkshow that features confrontations between guests over issues like infidelity, betrayal and addiction, after a participant died a week after recording the programme.
A mainstay of ITV’s daytime schedule since 2005, the programme had similarities with America’s “The Jerry Springer Show”, including using on-set security guards to break up brawls between guests.
The death of Steven Dymond, a 63-year-old who had taken part in a lie detector test in an episode which was never broadcast, has raised questions about broadcasters’ responsibility towards people who appear on reality TV.
“Given the gravity of recent events we have decided to end production of The Jeremy Kyle Show,” Chief Executive Carolyn McCall said on Wednesday.
The show, which is watched by about 1 million people, has been criticised for broadcasting the traumas of its guests.
The Prime Minister’s office said Dymond’s death was “deeply concerning”, and lawmaker Charles Walker said participants in the show were “not really guests, they’re victims”.
In 2007, a judge compared the programme to bear-baiting when a participant was convicted of assault after a fight during the filming of a show.
ITV, Britain’s biggest free-to-air commercial broadcaster, had said it has an extensive support system for participants before, during and after the show, and said the programme had helped many people to resolve complex personal problems.
One audience member who watched the recording of the episode featuring Dymond discussing infidelity, said he was clearly distressed after the lie-detector test results were revealed.
“You just saw him collapse to the ground, absolutely just couldn’t believe what he’d heard,” Babette Lucas-Marriott told the BBC.
“People were laughing at him because of the lies he’d told but he just needed help, and it just – it was horrible to watch, it really was.”
McCall said the show had a loyal audience and had been made by a dedicated production team for 14 years, but it was the right time for it to end.
“Everyone at ITV’s thoughts and sympathies are with the family and friends of Steve Dymond,” she said.
ITV said it would continue to work with host Jeremy Kyle on other projects.