The king of daytime telly has been toppled. Jezza is no more.
The demise of the Jeremy Kyle Show in the most tragic of circumstances has sparked a huge amount of hand-wringing.
No-one should shed a tear for Kyle – the ringmaster of this ghastly show – but they should pause and remember that a man took his own life one week after appearing as a guest, and ‘failing’ a lie detector test.
Real people got hurt on this show.
Real people were mocked by the audience, booed and jeered if they were ‘baddies’ and sniggered at as Kyle teased their most intimate personal stories for our entertainment before any offer of help or mediation was made.
That was the quid pro quo in return for the holy grail of a DNA test and that “all important” lie detector test.
Kyle seized the format of Jerry Springer, stuck it in a dishevelled tracksuit, and then delivered the same shtick over and over to the feckless and witless whose often complex issues and car crash lives were never explored much beyond the ludicrous captions which were permanently emblazoned on the screen so we didn’t have to try to concentrate too hard. Or care too much.
The faces changed, the stories didn’t as the Kyle Show mined the same fertile ground filled with cheats and scroungers, chancers and thieves, and a cacophony of family fall outs where people yelled over the top of each other and every second word was bleeped out, making it impossible to follow.
The format worked because we all tuned in to laugh at the folk on stage.
Who’d be dumb, or gullible, enough go on the show and air their dirty linen?
Truth was, plenty of folk were more than happy. Some went back time and again, underlining they were there for our entertainment rather than any actual help or resolution.
We laughed at them. Not with them.
We knew Kyle’s cliched lines off by heart – stick something on the end of it, go and get a job - and we hung in after the ad breaks, teased by the trailers which hinted at showdowns, screaming matches and, occasionally, cat fights.
It was horrible, exploitative, cheap telly.
Angry people, screwed up lives, wretched messes all laid out for our early morning entertainment.
It ought to have been stopped years ago.
That it took a man’s death makes us all – producers, sponsors, viewers – complicit.
The judge who branded it a form of “human bear baiting” was right.
Sentencing a man who, at a recording of the show, headbutted a lodger after he had an affair with his wife, Judge Berg said the producers ought to have been in the dock with him. This was the confrontation they wanted.
That was back in 2007.
It took another seven years, and one distressing death, for the axe to fall.
Reality television thrives on conflict and chaos. In return it offers nano-seconds of fame. That’s a hell of a price to pay.
Kyle’s demise should draw a line under the whole ghastly industry once and for all.
We should not mourn its demise.