Former employees of The Jeremy Kyle Show have spoken out about the strategies used to create tension and dramatic outcomes for its participants.
It was cancelled in 2019 after a former contestant, Steve Dymond, died by suicide following his appearance on the show.
A new documentary series, Jeremy Kyle Show: Death on Daytime, is set to reveal some of the show’s tactics in maximising drama.
People who used to work on the show appear during the Channel 4 exposé, using actors’ voices to mask their identities.
Some spoke about how they were encouraged to agitate the show’s guests prior to their arrival on stage.
One former worker explained: “They would love seeing a girl turn up, you know shy, quiet, scraggly and you would be put with that girl all day and you would turn her into this fireball.”
Another claim made by those who used to work on the show was that guests who dealt with addiction issues were in competition with others for a single rehabilitation bed, despite the fact there was room for them all.
Elsewhere in the exposing documentary, ex-employees told how they’d regularly receive calls from guests threatening to kill themselves. In response, they tried to talk them out of it so the show went on air and did not “waste any money”.
Referring to Dymond’s death, one former employee admitted to the filmmakers: “I felt like I had blood on my hands. We felt like we had killed someone.”
The former staff also spoke out about their beliefs that they’d personally suffered from the demands of the programme.
“Everybody was exploited without even knowing it and if you went along with it you were fine and if you didn’t you were sacked,” one said.
Another ex-employee described their time working on the programme as being “like a black stain on my soul”, while a backstage cameraman claimed to have seen “back-to-back psychological carnage”.
A statement from ITV says: “The show had a dedicated guest welfare team of mental healthcare professionals. Guests were supported prior to filming, throughout filming and after filming.
“ITV does not accept the central allegation of this programme of a ‘bad culture’ within the production team. ITV would never condone any of its production staff misleading or lying to guests.”
If you are experiencing feelings of distress and isolation, or are struggling to cope, the Samaritans offers support; you can speak to someone for free over the phone, in confidence, on 116 123 (UK and ROI), email email@example.com, or visit the Samaritans website to find details of your nearest branch.
If you are based in the USA, and you or someone you know needs mental health assistance right now, call National Suicide Prevention Helpline on 1-800-273-TALK (8255). The Helpline is a free, confidential crisis hotline that is available to everyone 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
If you are in another country, you can go to www.befrienders.org to find a helpline near you.