UK tabloid talk show canceled after death of guest
LONDON (AP) — British broadcaster ITV on Wednesday canceled a popular, long-running daytime reality show after the death of a guest who failed a lie-detector test during a recording.
ITV chief executive Carolyn McCall said “The Jeremy Kyle Show” was being scrapped “given the gravity of recent events.”
The tabloid-style talk show, which had run for 14 years, was pulled after 63-year-old Steve Dymond was found dead at a home in Portsmouth, southern England, on May 9.
Media reported that he had killed himself. Police said the death was not suspicious, and a post-mortem will be held to determine the cause.
On an episode filmed earlier this month, Dymond took a lie-detector test to convince his fiancee that he had not been unfaithful, but was told he had failed.
The episode has not been aired.
Dymond’s death has heightened concern in Britain about the stress put on people appearing on reality television and online shows, and program-makers’ duty to protect their guests.
It’s a debate that has raged, off and on, for close to two decades since Britain began making home-grown equivalents of sensationalist U.S. programs like “The Jerry Springer Show” and putting ordinary people under intense scrutiny on reality shows such as “Big Brother.”
ITV was already under pressure following the deaths of two former contestants, Sophie Gradon and Mike Thalassitis on reality show “Love Island.” Gradon’s 2018 death was ruled a suicide at an inquest. An inquest has not yet been held for Thalassitis, who died in March.
Lawmaker Damian Collins, chairman of the House of Commons Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee, said the panel would discuss “what should be done to review the duty of care support for people appearing in reality TV shows” during a private meeting on Wednesday.
Simon Wessely, a former head of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, said shows like “Jeremy Kyle” were “the theatre of cruelty.”
“And yes, it might entertain a million people a day, but then again, so did Christians versus lions,” he said.