Lie detectors could be banned after Jeremy Kyle Show death

Simon Austin's picture

Ofcom could ban the use of lie detectors in reality shows following the death of a guest on the Jeremy Kyle Show.

Sharon White, chief executive of the UK’s broadcasting regulator, told a committee of MPs that Ofcom was scrutinising the use of lie detectors, which have become a staple of reality programmes.

The Jeremy Kyle Show, which was filmed and produced at MediaCityUK, was permanently cancelled last week after participant Steve Dymond was found dead just a few days after failing a lie-detector test on the programme.

“In the context of guidance around harm and offence we will be looking at lie detectors and other tools used by production companies as to whether it is fair treatment of particular vulnerable individuals,” White told the digital, culture, media and sport committee.

“These high-risk prize events or the use of a lie detector or a particular editorial tool may not be appropriate.”

Damian Collins, chair of the committee, said there were questions over the validity of lie detector results, yet on reality TV shows they were “being presented as bona fide fact”.

White said Ofcom had been looking into reality TV shows after the deaths of the Love Island contestants Sophie Gradon and Mike Thalassitis.

“As well as the most recent tragedy with Steve Dymond alarm bells were particularly rung with the two suicides on Love Island, some months after the broadcast,” she said.

“We have been particularly concerned about what has then happened to participants after the programme is over. After transmission at the moment there is a window between filming and transmission with advice [for participants] about the media and social media and going from a private person to the media world.

"I’m asking my team if that [duty of care] needs to be extended.”

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