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Reality TV inquiry accuses ITV of “corporate failure of responsibility”

Kyle Brogan, Fusion Unlimited, Joint Managing Director

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee looking into Reality TV has accused ITV of “failing in its responsibility towards reality show contributors.”

It comes after the DCMS Committee viewed new footage passed to it by a whistleblower. The film goes behind the scenes of The Jeremy Kyle Show and showed how the filming of contestants continued backstage, and in dressing rooms.

Experts advisers, Dr Hayley Dare, Chartered Consultant Clinical Psychologist; and Helen Wood, Professor of Media and Cultural Studies at Lancaster University also watched unedited footage of a programme provided by ITV at the request of the committee.

They observed that in the broadcast version of the show, the participants’ swearwords are “blanked out in a way to make them still apparent, while Jeremy Kyle’s use of the word “gob-shite” towards the participant was seamlessly edited out.”

The Committee said that:

“The use of body language by Jeremy Kyle is viewed as exacerbating a confrontation with a participant, with the presenter standing up to speak to the participant in a derogatory manner in a raised voice.”

The inquiry was launched following the death of a guest, a week after filming the show. ITV later cancelled the series, which was filmed at MediaCityUK.

“It is clear that once the cameras started rolling on The Jeremy Kyle Show there was no safe space for anyone in a highly distressed state, verified by the behind the scenes footage passed to the committee by a whistleblower,” said Damian Collins MP Chair of the DCMS Committee.

“We’ve seen one contributor who was extremely upset take refuge backstage only to have a camera thrust in his face to capture him holding his head in his hands.

“We’ve also seen how Jeremy Kyle would use provocative and sometimes abusive language towards participants in the show, and that this could be edited out of the broadcasted show.

“The overriding concern of the Reality TV inquiry has been to examine the production companies’ duty of care towards people who take part, often at an extremely vulnerable point in their lives. 

“We’ve shown this recording to expert advisers who are deeply concerned at ITV’s apparent failure to prioritise the welfare of participants over the demands of the show, exploiting their vulnerability for the purpose of entertainment.

“What we’ve seen demonstrates a failure on the part of ITV studios in its responsibility towards contributors and makes a mockery of the ‘aftercare’ it has claimed to provide.”

In response ITV said: “We cannot comment on accusations based on footage the Select Committee has not shared with ITV.”

The statement continued:

“ITV cancelled The Jeremy Kyle Show in May.  We have since made clear that we will not bring back the Jeremy Kyle Show, or any other show resembling its format.”

Referencing the comments about its duty of care, the ITV said:

“The physical and mental health of everyone we work with is our highest priority and ITV is committed to working across the industry – including with other broadcasters, PACT and our regulator Ofcom – to share best practice and continue to strengthen and evolve our Duty of Care processes.
“The participation of the public in television programmes has been right at the heart of TV since it began. 
“We believe that these shows are all the better for the talent, energy and diversity of the members of the public who take part in them and we are committed to continuing to ensure that their welfare is also at the heart of what we do.”

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