Since 2005, the Jeremy Kyle Show has poisoned the TV airways with a show that, almost without exception, exploits and humiliates some of the poorest and most vulnerable people in the land. I have never, once, watched the show at home. Instead, I have endured its miserable content via the television sets of those I have met in a professional context. Now, a ‘guest’ has died a week after appearing on the show and ITV has suspended it indefinitely. Did it really need a death to remind us all what a hideous show it is?
If you are poor, overweight, mentally ill or preferably all of these, Kyle wants to wave a moderately sized cheque in your face and set you up against a family member or friend and watch as you tear each other apart for the delight of Kyle’s sadistic viewers. The first time I saw the show, my jaw almost literally dropped. It was hard to take in the fact that here a posh private schoolboy was setting himself up as some kind of therapist and maniacal dictator, performing in an occasional mockney accent to make himself sound like his guests. All that happened was that Kyle came across as a hateful, vindictive man.
What, I wonder, possesses people to watch this stuff? Because let’s face it, watching people being humiliated on national television is nothing new. Do people get actual pleasure from someone being shouted at, shamed, driven to tears? They must do. Otherwise why would they watch it? Is it because for many of the viewers their lives are so crap they feel a bit better watching those whose lives are even worse, hard for them it can be to imagine?
Heaven knows what happens to people who have been on the show. Perhaps they simply and effortlessly return to their normal lives, with all the problems they shared with voyeuristic TV viewers still intact? Or maybe badly damaged? Or even dead? All in the name of entertainment? Entertainment, though not as we know it.
This is perfect timing for ITV to grab this opportunity and show some cojones by sending old Jeremy to that not very great TV scrapyard in the sky. It’s one thing making people look like idiots on telly but quite another when they subsequently die.