Why did people go on ‘Jeremy Kyle’?

The government committee chairing an inquiry into reality TV has said ITV “failed in its responsibility towards reality show contributors”.

I’m quite relieved we have moved on from ‘The Jeremy Kyle Show’ being a regular part of the TV schedule.

Lets be honest though, it wasn’t down to the viewers switching the show off (although I haven’t researched viewing figures, I don’t believe it was that reason), it was down to the ITV board being responsible and recognising a poisoned chalice when Steve Dymond sadly ended his life.

As a reminder here is the full story: Steve Dymond death: Jeremy Kyle guest ex-partner ‘abused online’

But a logical question for most of us was ‘why did people go on the show in the first place’? Well, you can only really understand the way someone thinks or acts by walking in their shoes, and unless you can (and you can’t), then it’s unfair to judge.

People went on Jeremy Kyle as it was their only option (either to get answers via Lie Detectors or DNA tests paid for by the programme), for revenge, or ‘for the giggles’. Within the type of communities the participants frequently lived in, everyone knew their problems and dilemmas anyway, so appearing on a TV show was not really going to make walking down the street any more difficult.

The studio set up for Jeremy Kyle meant the back stage area gave no opportunity for many to escape the camera glares, which of course was where so much of the real drama took place.

All of the participants on Jeremy Kyle were brought to the Manchester studio and back home in taxis- regardless if that was travelling from Brighton or Edinburgh. This was so the production team had total knowledge of where they were via a call to the taxi company, if they had stopped to ‘stock up’ on anything, or if they were having second thoughts.

People want to watch just like people slow down on the motorway to look at a crash.

One taxi driver that collected guests called in to a phone in radio show, and he summed up a typical aspect of life for the participants as he explained he was returning someone back home and had their postcode but not the street address. The lad in his early twenties didn’t recognise the area he was in that was only about 4 streets away from his home as he had never ‘ventured that far’.

The Jeremy Kyle Show justified what they did with the ‘aftercare team’ they offered for support. Although I wasn’t aware of any therapists, marriage guidance advisors, or mental health professionals who would seriously suggest appearing on the show would have been a positive step forwards for a client.

We will always have TV shows where we shake our heads in disbelief and question why people do it- whether that be someone eating animal parts on ‘I’m A Celebrity’, or someone finding a new partner on ‘Naked Attraction’. But just like why people appear on shows like Jeremy Kyle, they do it for ultimately one main reason; people want to watch just like people slow down on the motorway to look at a crash. And that demand fuels TV companies and persuasive TV producers to convince people to do it.

The Jeremy Kyle show office was apparently at its busiest on a Monday morning, as that’s when people fuelled by arguments over the weekend wanted revenge.

But the show for now is over… Taxi.


Jonathan Robinson is the founder of Bellyfloptv, and a Broadcast Producer and Director.


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