The Guardian view on The Jeremy Kyle Show: TV with no moral compass | Editorial

May 15, 2019 Off By readly

Boundaries of taste change over time, but that doesn’t excuse broadcasters from a duty of care to people who appear on screen

The availability of an audience is not, in itself, justification for putting on a spectacle. There are things people would be quite prepared to watch that are illegal to display. There are many more things that the law does not prohibit, but that broadcasters choose not to show. The Jeremy Kyle Show has now joined that number, cancelled by ITV after the death of a participant in the programme. It is the right decision, taken tragically too late.

The 14-year-old show has attracted controversy before. In 2007, a judge described it as “human bear-baiting” in the trial of a man convicted of assault on set. The programme’s producers have subsequently faced many accusations of neglect, manipulation and dereliction of duty towards the people invited to share the most intimate aspects of their private lives with a million-strong daytime audience. Repeats and viral YouTube segments significantly increase the exposure. A vulnerable person can have their life defined – some say ruined – by a single moment of bad behaviour.

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