TV bosses grilled over Jeremy Kyle Show ‘exploitation’

Robert Dex, NIcholas Cecil

ITV chiefs came under fire today in Parliament over alleged “exploitation” of guests on the Jeremy Kyle Show.

The Commons digital, culture, media and sport committee demanded answers over how participants were selected, the accuracy of lie detector tests and guests reportedly signing away their rights over how they were represented on the show.

ITV had asked the committee not to publish documents which guests on reality TV shows are asked to sign.

But the MPs rebuffed the request and today made public forms given to participants before they appeared on the Jeremy Kyle Show and Love Island.

The questions put to people applying to take part in the Jeremy Kyle Show laid bare how vulnerable some of them are. Kyle’s show was taken off air last month after the death of Steve Dymond in a suspected suicide after appearing on the confrontational talk show.

His ex-partner said later he failed an on-camera polygraph test that revealed he had been untruthful about cheating on her.

The documents given to MPs by the broadcaster reveal all contestants have to sign a waiver saying they “understand that the test process cannot be guaranteed 100 per cent certain”.

Damian Collins, chairman of the digital, culture, media and sport committee, said: “Our biggest concern is overall about the level of exploitation of people on the show. We have concerns also about the way that the polygraph tests work.

“We have received evidence suggesting that the test is at best 60 to 70 per cent accurate.”

He believes that in a TV studio the reliability could be even lower as people may perspire more and their heart rate may also be affected by the experience.

Mr Collins said evidence that researchers used Facebook to find guests for the Jeremy Kyle Show made him wonder if they were targeting certain groups of people. “Are they seeking out vulnerable people?” he said.

Evidence submitted by ITV to the committee revealed researchers who interviewed would-be guests were told to alert the aftercare team if a “guest has diagnosed depression or a previous suicide attempt”.

They were also quizzed about their drinking habits, potential criminal record and drug use. They were told: “Jeremy likes to know as much as he can about you before meeting you”.

Guests on the show were encouraged “to be honest” and warned about “Jeremy’s presenting style”. They were told “he can be very critical of people if he thinks they are in the wrong” and that the team would “stay in touch”.

The introduction pack said: “Many guests want to return to tell Jeremy how much things have improved since appearing on the show.” They were also asked if they would be “able to cope” if they failed a lie detector test.

A similar form for Love Island warns applicants there is “no guarantee” how long they will stay on the show. It adds: “You could be the first person to leave and nobody may fancy you.”

ITV bosses announced contestants in the current series would be offered further aftercare after the suicides of previous Islanders Sophie Gradon and Mike Thalassitis.