An MP who has spoken openly about his own mental health issues has urged ITV to axe The Jeremy Kyle show for good.
Charles Walker MP told the BBC it would be “extremely sensible” if ITV said “this has gone far enough” adding that it was “a watershed moment”.
Mr Walker spoke to the BBC after the ITV show was suspended following the death of a guest shortly after filming.
Newspapers have named him as Steve Dymond. Reports say his friends fear he took his own life earlier this month.
The recording Mr Dymond took part in was based on the subject of infidelity.
ITV said everyone at the show is “shocked and saddened” and “thoughts are with the family and friends”.
It will not screen the episode and said both filming and broadcasting were suspended with “immediate effect”.
All previous episodes of the show have also been taken down from the channel’s catch-up service, ITV Hub. Episodes will also not air on ITV2.
The Jeremy Kyle Show is the most popular programme on ITV’s daytime schedule, with an average of one million viewers and a 22% audience share.
Mr Walker, Conservative MP for Broxbourne and a member of the all-party parliamentary group on suicide and self-harm prevention, told the BBC that guests on the Jeremy Kyle show are “not really guests, they’re victims” and described the tragedy as “a watershed moment”.
“I don’t want to pile in on Jeremy Kyle because he probably feels bad enough, although obviously not as bad as the family… and this is a shared responsibility,” Mr Walker said.
“None of this stuff would be made if nobody watched it.”
Mr Walker said: “It’s mental health awareness week and I have experience with mental health – I think it would be extremely sensible for ITV to say this has gone far enough, this is a great tragedy, we’re not going to broadcast this show any longer, it’s not fit for purpose in 2019 and we feel it’s part of our corporate responsibility.”
He added: “Jeremy Kyle is a talented man who can do other things and go on to make other TV shows. The Jeremy Kyle Show will become just a memory.
“Societally, we have a responsibility for why this TV is made, it’s a reflection of ourselves that it has been made and so many people watch it.
“It’s cruel and there’s enough cruelty in the world without showing it on TV.”
Damian Collins, chair of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport select committee, told the BBC: “TV companies have a clear duty of care towards the people who appear on these programmes. My concern about shows like Jeremy Kyle’s is that they can put vulnerable people in very exposed positions.
“We need to know what support participants are offered during the making of these programme and afterwards. I believe that Ofcom should conduct an independent review of the duty of care policies in place around the Jeremy Kyle show and other similar programmes.”
Mr Collins told the BBC that the DCMS select committee would be discussing what should be done to review the duty of care for people appearing in reality TV shows during a private meeting on Wednesday.
A spokesperson for media watchdog Ofcom said: “This is clearly a very distressing case. Although we can only assess content that has been broadcast, we are discussing this programme with ITV as a priority to understand what took place.”
Conservative MP Simon Hart said: “We need to be very careful about applying a disproportionate reaction Jeremy Kyle is not the only show that specialises in people’s discomfort.
“Personally I would like to be reassured there is a degree of aftercare. People should be aware of the aftermath and the possible impact on their families.”
ITV said in a statement: “The Jeremy Kyle Show has significant and detailed duty of care processes in place for contributors pre, during and post show which have been built up over 14 years, and there have been numerous positive outcomes from this, including parties who have resolved complex and long-standing personal problems.”
The show has been broadcast in its mid-morning slot since 2005. Its guests discuss relationship issues and conflicts with each other in front of Kyle’s studio audience.
It is well-known for its often heated debates, with Kyle mediating between guests.
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