On Wednesday, a famous British daytime talk show was canceled after a 14-year-run after a guest who failed a lie detector test was found dead, with rumors that he had killed himself. After the announcement of the show’s cancellation, the British government announced it would pursue an investigation into reality shows.
British broadcaster ITV canceled “The Jeremy Kyle Show” after Steve Dymond, 63, who had appeared on the show where he failed a lie-detector test that was intended to prove to his fiancée, Jane Callaghan, that he had not cheated on her, was found dead by his landlady on May 9. The show has not been aired. Although police said Dymond’s death was not suspicious, there were reports from media that Dymond had committed suicide.
After the show was canceled, The Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport Committee (DCMS) announced it was launching an investigation into reality television, according to The Daily Mail. DCMS committee chairman Damian Collins stated:
ITV has made the right decision to permanently cancel the Jeremy Kyle Show. However, that should not be the end of the matter. There needs to be an independent review of the duty of care TV companies have to participants in reality TV shows and the DCMS select committee has decided to hold an inquiry this summer into these issues. Programmes like The Jeremy Kyle Show risk putting people who might be vulnerable on to a public stage at a point in their lives when they are unable to foresee the consequences, either for themselves or their families.
This kind of TV featuring members of the public attracts viewing figures in the millions but in return for ratings, the broadcasters must demonstrate their duty of care to the people whose personal lives are being exposed. With an increasing demand for this type of programming, we’ll be examining broadcasting regulation in this area – is it fit for purpose?’
According to The Sun, Callaghan said that she and Dymond had dissolved their relationship after the show. The Sun reported, “Just before his death Steve texted Jane to say he could not face life without her. In desperate messages he wrote: ‘I can’t live without you. I just wanted to come and see you. I just wanted to say sorry before I go. My life is not worth living without you.’”
Callaghan said Dymond suffered from depression, and obtained a note from a doctor confirming he was medically fit just so he could appear on the show. She stated, “He wanted to go on. He was really excited and confident. But it was all a front and I knew it. He wasn’t well at all.”
He had lied and lied all through the relationship. I did think he was sleeping with someone else. I did some digging and found out he was a compulsive liar. I pulled him up on it. But just before we went on the show he convinced me that he hadn’t cheated. He was making all these plans and he was so confident.”
I know we split up a week ago but we were together for two years. He was still my fiancé. I still loved him. As much as he was a pig to me I still loved him. We got engaged Christmas Day 2017. He was crying, the love was real. He was the most generous and loving person. He was quietly struggling, and we didn’t know at the time. He cheated on me, I know he did. I can’t forgive but I just want him to be alive.
Callaghan defended the team from Kyle’s show, saying, “They were brilliant. They were there when he needed help. They were really persistent in offering him help. Steve liked to be a comedian and he could be very funny. He liked the attention.”
Dymond’s landlady offered her perspective, according to Metro:
It has now been claimed by his landlady Shelley that he had returned from the show “sobbing and distraught,” and he told her ‘”it’s all gone wrong,” after failing a lie detector test on the show. She told the newspaper: “Four days later he was dead. I really believe it was the show that tipped him over the edge.”
ITV chief executive Carolyn McCall said the show was canceled “given the gravity of recent events.” CBS News reported:
ITV was already under pressure following the deaths of two former contestants, Sophie Gradon and Mike Thalassitis, on reality show “Love Island.” Gradon’s 2018 death was ruled a suicide at an inquest. An inquest has not yet been held for Thalassitis, who died in March.
Simon Wessely, who once was head of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, called daytime talk shows like “Jeremy Kyle” “the theatre of cruelty,” adding, “And yes, it might entertain a million people a day, but then again, so did Christians versus lions.”