ITV’s permanent axing of the Jeremy Kyle Show during Mental Health Awareness Week is “a sensible and proper decision”, the director of a Catholic mental health project has said.
ITV has issued a statement announcing the permanent cancellation of the confrontational talk show after heavy criticism following the death of a participant.
The broadcaster had suspended the show indefinitely on Monday after Steve Dymond, 63, was found dead in a suspected suicide, only a week after he appeared on the programme.
Mr Dymond took a lie-detector test – a regular fixture used on the programme – to convince fiancee Jane Callaghan he had not been unfaithful but they split after he failed, according to The Sun.
Ben Bano, director of Welcome Me as I Am, which promotes mental health and awareness in parish communities, welcomed the cancellation of the programme during Mental Health Awareness Week, which runs from 13th to 19th May, and called for similar programmes to be scrapped.
“In a week that marks awareness of mental health issues, it is a sensible and proper decision that the Jeremy Kyle Show should be taken off air,” Mr Bano told The Catholic Universe.
“What passes as entertainment all too often has a negative effect on the mental health of those involved and can well lead to them reliving earlier traumas. As we have seen in other reality shows, people can be scarred by their experiences of these shows and in extreme cases take their own lives.
“Anything which tempts people to these desperate acts should be taken off air even if support for the person concerned is available – it’s best not to take any chances,” he added.
Critics of the Jeremy Kyle Show have previously spoken out about how it demonised the working class, branding it ‘poverty porn’, and put people, often with addiction or mental health issues, on a public platform for viewers to ridicule them and revel in their misfortune and vulnerabilities.
Following the news of Mr Dymond’s death, Tory MP Charles Walker, a vice-chairman of the all-party parliamentary group on suicide and self-harm prevention, told The Daily Mail: “On reflection, ITV would be best advised just to stop it. It’s a very, very unattractive TV show and I’m surprised it’s gone on so long.”
And MP Damian Collins, chairman of the Commons Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee, said TV companies “have a duty of care to the people who take part in their programmes”, while Tory MP Simon Hart, who also sits on the committee, described the Jeremy Kyle Show as “car-crash TV which revels in people’s terrible misfortune and sometimes their vulnerabilities”.
In response to this recent tragedy, one mental health expert had called for the show to be cancelled, branding it a “theatre of cruelty”.
“It’s the theatre of cruelty,” said Professor Sir Simon Wessely, former president of the Royal College of Psychiatrists. “And yes, it might entertain a million people a day, but then again so did Christians versus lions.”
The programme’s permanent cancellation comes after 14 years and 3,320 episodes. It had a regular daytime morning slot on ITV since 2005.
It also comes after concerns were raised earlier this year about reality TV shows and the effect they have on participants’ mental health, following the deaths of two former contestants on ITV’s Love Island.
Sophie Gradon, 32, who appeared on the hit programme in 2016, was found hanged in June by her boyfriend, who later took his own life in similar circumstances.
In March this year another Love Island contestant, Mike Thalassitis, was found hanged in a north London park.
Picture: Jeremy Kyle. (ITV).