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Jeremy Kyle Show: why take so long to end this daily humiliation?

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19.05.2019

In 2013, more than 1 million people watched a 17-year-old girl being called a “crackhead” and a “silly anorexic slapper” by her sister on national television while a well known TV presenter informed them that the girl had “slept with 33 men”.

The girl then took and failed a lie detector test – a controversial device which measures blood pressure, breathing patterns and sweat – while crying and in distress. But who wouldn’t be, with all this being broadcast to the nation on the Jeremy Kyle Show? One concerned viewer complained to Ofcom and the media regulator found that the show had breached the broadcasting code, a rare event in its 14-year run.

Last week, it was axed by ITV after a participant, Steve Dymond, was found dead a week after he also failed a lie detector test in front of a live audience. The decision came just two days after the show was suspended; yet, it seems fair to ask what took ITV so long to cancel a show that a judge called “human bear baiting” as long ago as 2007.

The precise causes of Dymond’s tragic death are still unknown – indeed Dymond’s fiancee, Jane Callaghan, told the Sunday Mirror his apparent suicide was unrelated to the show. Yet his death has prompted a parliamentary inquiry and an Ofcom review of television’s duty of care to participants.

Last week, ITV’s chief executive, Carolyn McCall, said that “now is the right time for the show to end”, and by acting so quickly ITV undoubtedly wanted to reflect the seriousness of a death which shocked a TV industry used to employing “no one died” as a glib phrase for times of stress.

It is also keen to stop harm spreading to other, more valuable shows such as Love Island. This may be difficult, not least because regulatory and political concerns started to build years ago. In launching his parliamentary review last week, the........

© The Guardian