British broadcaster ITV on Wednesday cancelled 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 it was death by suicide. 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 fiancée 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 homegrown 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. An inquest ruled Gradon’s 2018 death a suicide. 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.
Where to get help:
In Quebec: Association québécoise de prévention du suicide: 1-866-APPELLE (1-866-277-3553)
Kids Help Phone: 1-800-668-6868 (Phone), Live Chat counselling at www.kidshelpphone.ca
Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention: Find a 24-hour crisis centre
If you’re worried someone you know may be at risk of suicide, you should talk to them about it, says the Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention.
Here are some warning signs:
- Suicidal thoughts.
- Substance abuse.
- Feeling trapped.
- Hopelessness and helplessness.
- Mood changes.