Former staff on The Jeremy Kyle Show have revealed how they were ‘pitted against their colleagues’ to create conflict and drama, describing the show as a ‘ticking time bomb’.
Speaking to former members of the controversial show’s production team, The Guardian outlines a toxic work culture in which staff constantly felt their jobs were at risk, and faced heavy pressure to ‘churn out’ sensationalist narratives featuring often vulnerable guests.
The Jeremy Kyle Show has been the subject of growing scrutiny since its cancellation in May 2019, after former guest Steve Dymond took his own life. In February 2020 Natasha Reddican, a former producer on the daytime show, also died by suicide, with Reddican’s step-father telling The Guardian that the ‘stigma’ associated with working on the show had left her struggling to find work, and was a ‘contributing factor’ to her depression.
The Guardian has spoken to several other former Jeremy Kyle Show staff members, many of whom wished to remain anonymous, and all of whom paint a picture of a competitive and highly volatile work environment.
One former producer said of his time on the show:
Sometimes you get no sleep. There were occasions when people just didn’t go home. We were running on empty.
[If a show went badly] you’d feel dark. Like you’d failed. Like your job was at risk. If you do well, you’re relieved. But then on Monday you start again. It’s a constant cycle.
Former staff members also described a ‘battle’ between producers and mental health staffers, with Graham Stanier, a consultant psychotherapist on the show, saying that he believed that due to the pressure producers were under, ‘people may have not been honest’ when filling out mental health forms.
‘The show was a bit of a ticking timebomb,’ said one producer of Dymond’s death. ‘You can only ‘test’ so many people before someone is going to snap and react badly, because people are human and if you feel like you’ve been shamed on national television, sometimes people can’t see a way out of that.’
Ultimately, those who worked on the show blame ITV for allowing the environment that led to Dymond and Reddican’s deaths. ‘They allowed that kind of working culture, and those practices, to go on,’ one producer said, adding that Reddican’s death in particular ‘says something about the culture of the industry that needs to change, that you work yourself almost to death.’
ITV did not comment on the allegation made by the former producers, telling The Guardian, ‘ITV takes our duty of care to participants and colleagues very seriously.’
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