John Logie Baird – Why?
Dave Woodhall’s been watching morning TV, and found a familiar face still polluting the airwaves.
For some reason I found myself watching the Jeremy Kyle Show last week. I know everything that could be said about this particular human zoo was said many years ago, but not having seen the programme for some time I hope the producers might have taken note of the controversy and toned down the confrontational, aggressive, downright nasty nature of proceedings. After all, it’s been some time since it came under fire so surely a programme which one judge described a “human bear baiting” in 2009 must have been altered in order to stay on TV.
Or not, because it’s as horrible as ever. I’ve no idea why anyone would want to appear on this show. I suppose the DNA tests and what is referred to as ‘the lie detector’ might be beyond the pockets of those who are happy to see their dirty laundry aired in public. Some will think that the show is the only way of solving their problems – nobody will have ever told them that proper, effective, counselling is available for all, not just as part of a TV programme. And of course, there are those whose dearest wish in these days of instant celebrity is fifteen minutes of fame in the only way they understand. These people should be protected from themselves.
The first part of the show I saw featured a young couple, probably still in their teens. It’s a familiar tale – she had his baby, he doesn’t want to know. This gives the holier than thou Kyle the chance to rant about how irresponsible the couple were, and how he himself would do anything for what he calls “my kids.” “I would walk to the other side of the country to see my kids” is just one of the ordeals he sets himself to prove that he’s Jeremy Kyle – family guy. Except that, as has been shown many times before, Jeremy Kyle has not always been the fine, upstanding citizen he claims to be. As BRMB presenter Jezza, he was such a promoter of moral values he considered a wedding to be a suitable prize for a game show. His ex-wife claims that he lied, cheated and stole from her during their marriage. And although this was a long time ago and Kyle would claim that he’s now a changed man, he was certainly older then than the scarcely-more-than-children, not particularly articulate, characters he harangues for their moral failings and ridicules for their ability to cope with life on national TV.
The next bit of the programme I saw began with a hulking security guard standing over a frightened woman. Kyle’s programmes often feature hulking security guards. They’re solidly-built men with shaved heads and should anyone be in any doubt as to their role, they have SECURITY helpfully emblazoned on the back of their black shirts. They break up the regular on-stage fights and escort guests away from the set once their usefulness has been outlived. They also have a habit of looming over anyone who might look as though they’re being provoked by Kyle’s abuse or description of them as a ‘coward’.
The reason for Security Man’s pre-emptive appearance was that the female guest’s former partner had been abusive towards her. Not nice, and totally unacceptable. He then appears onstage, the audience wound up into baying for his blood, and soon drops into the conversation that he’s a heavy drinker – so he’s ill. When asked why he’s unemployed – almost as grave a crime to the Kyle mentality as it is to the Daily Mail reader- he says he can’t work due to depression. So he’s also suffering from mental illness. And this is considered a suitable subject for daytime TV, in front of an unsympathetic audience incited by a presenter versed in the arts of bullying and intimidation. No attempt at understanding what drove this man to behave in the way he did, no attempt to help him. This is the black and white world of Jeremy Kyle. You either get sympathy or you’re fair game. The man is eventually led away from the stage; so much for Kyle’s much-vaunted ‘after care’.
If ITV had any moral authority this show would have been scrapped long ago and its presenter ostracised. Instead, they’re both back for another series of ‘all-new’ shows, as controversial and unapologetic as ever.