ITV has been accused by MPs of a ‘corporate failure of responsibility’ after behind-the-scenes footage of distraught guests on The Jeremy Kyle Show was leaked by a whistleblower.
Damian Collins, head of the Commons digital, culture, media and sport committee, said the footage of guests backstage and in dressing rooms showed ‘there was no safe space for anyone in a highly distressed state’.
Experts were concerned at the level of ‘humiliation, denigration and provocation’, said the MPs who are investigating reality TV. In one case a young man is heard punching a wall.
Mr Collins said one ‘extremely upset’ contributor hid backstage ‘only to have a camera thrust in his face to capture him holding his head in his hands’.
Host Jeremy Kyle would also ‘use provocative and sometimes abusive language towards participants’ that could be edited out, he added.
Mr Collins said: ‘We’ve shown this recording to expert advisers who are deeply concerned at ITV’s apparent failure to prioritise the welfare of participants over the demands of the show, exploiting their vulnerability for the purpose of entertainment.
‘What we’ve seen demonstrates a failure on the part of ITV Studios in its responsibility towards contributors and makes a mockery of the “aftercare” it has claimed to provide.’
The Jeremy Kyle Show was axed in May following the death of participant Steve Dymond (pictured). ITV’s Love Island is also under scrutiny after the deaths of ex-contestants Sophie Gradon and Mike Thalassitis. Kyle has not taken up an invitation to appear before the MPs. ITV said it could not comment on the footage because the MPs had not shared it.
It added: ‘The physical and mental health of everyone we work with is our highest priority.’