Media figures including Greg Dyke and Carole Malone have spoken out about the cancellation of the “toxic” and “extreme” Jeremy Kyle Show.
Appearing on Sky News debate show The Pledge along with Maajid Nawaz, Afua Hirsch and Nick Ferrari, Malone said she had worked on similar shows and seen how guests are “wound up”.
It comes following the cancellation of Kyle‘s show after the death of guest Steve Dymond, 63, who is believed to have taken his own life.
Malone, a columnist and TV panellist, who also appeared on Celebrity Big Brother in 2007, said she had stood in on the Trisha show, which aired from 1998 to 2010.
Describing The Jeremy Kyle Show as a “toxic, bullying freak show” and the “human form of bear-baiting”, Malone said the programme “was out of control” and that others “still are”.
Speaking about her own experiences, she said: “I’ve worked around these shows – I used to stand in for Trisha when she did it. I’ve seen what happens to the guests on the show.
“I’ve been there when I’ve seen guests wound up… one of the bosses’ excuses is that people go on these shows willingly.
“These guys are offered a fee, they’re put up in a hotel for a night, they’re given all the food and booze they can manage, and then they’re wheeled on the next day and wound up before they go on, and I do think it’s exploitation in its purest form.”
Malone said she had seen what producers on shows she has worked on “do to get the reaction they want”.
Dyke, former director-general of the BBC, said the Jeremy Kyle Show was “the extreme”.
He continued: “Over the years [it] has become more extreme. If you look back to the reality shows that were on before Kyle, things like The Time, The Place, they were very responsible, they did it properly.
“What’s interesting is, we’ve all known Kyle is pushing it. It was inevitable in the end, what’s happened now was going to happen. The question is, why didn’t any of us say anything about it?”
He said the people who worked on the show were not “evil” but had a job and were “pushed” over the years.
Nawaz said The Jeremy Kyle Show “perpetuates stereotypes and cliches” and was “out of date”.
However, Ferrari added that “they have done some good work. Some people have been sent on courses and beaten drug addiction”.
Following Mr Dymond’s death, ITV issued a statement about the support in place for guests on the programme.
“Prior to the show a comprehensive assessment is carried out by the guest welfare team on all potential contributors,” it said. “The guests are interviewed by guest welfare face-to-face at studios and prior to filming.
“Throughout filming, the participants are supported by the guest welfare team. After filming has ended, all guests are seen by a member of the guest welfare team.”
The Pledge panel also discussed the BBC’s sacking of Danny Baker after he posted a photo of a man and woman holding hands with a suited chimpanzee to make a “joke” about the birth of the royal baby earlier this month.
The 61-year-old captioned the tweet: “Royal baby leaves hospital,” prompting accusations of racism.
Dyke said he would not have fired Baker had he still been director-general of the BBC.
Saying that he worked with him on a show more than 30 years ago and had always thought of him as a “really good bloke and a brilliant broadcaster”, and that anyone who knows Baker knows there is “not a racist bone in his body”.
Dyke said the “pressure to remove him would have been intense but I rather hope that I would have resisted”.
Hirsch said she was “quite depressed” to be having the debate with Dyke.
Nawaz said: “Yes, the action was racist but no he didn’t mean to be racist, which is why he immediately apologised for it, and deleted it, and then lost his job, and then people still wanted to take him to the police and be prosecuted.”
Hirsch said it was “so exhausting to have to sit here and communicate our daily lived experience”.
She said: “These are the kinds of things that happen every day in your life… as a black person in this country.”
Hirsch continued: “You have no idea how it feels to have someone make a monkey noise at you when you’re doing your job. And you know, he’s a football supporter – he should know. This is something the best football players in the country say they can’t wait to see the back of.”
She said she did not want to communicate what was “wrong” about Baker’s tweet, saying to the panel: “You should know better.”
:: The Pledge airs on Sky News at 8pm on Thursdays