Have you ever watched the Jeremy Kyle show? No really, have you? I only ask because having been unlucky enough to stumble upon it once or twice in the nether regions of the more obscure free view channels has led me to wonder whether in actual fact this is a spoof.
For those of you who have not had the pleasure it essentially takes the Killroy formula and takes it to new extremes but without even the same sense of humour which something like Jerry Springer (which I would add is an equally nasty show) has.
Each episode a series of individuals are brought on to tell their tale of wo (and often they are really quite harrowing stories) and then dear old Jeremy brings on the rest of the cast, mostly villians, some heros and procedes to "tell it like it is" in his self confessed "direct style".
Let me give you an example, this afternoon we had the section entitled "Mum, how could you choose your violent boyfriend over me". A 16 year old girl was brought on who moved out of home because her mum's new boyfriend was, you guessed it violent. Mum was brought on for her daughter to confront, followed by the boy friend. There then followed the inevitable twist as actually it turned out that the mum was as responsible as the boy friend and Jezza (as I think we should all him) dished out his words of wisdom to all of them to make it all ok.
Well you go Jezza, you all round hero you! Lets take a situation that is clearly painful for all involved, where some of them clearly need professional help and splat it all over tv and make ourself out as a hero shall we?
To me Jezza comes across as an utter arsehole, coming out with such moments of humanity as saying "I'll get the truth out of her" (while smirking at the camera) and "Get off my show" having just spent the last 2 minutes ranting at some one without allowing them so much as a moment to respond.
What I find shocking about these programmes (of which this is simply the worst example) is the way that those involved are taken advantage of. Lets not beat about the bush on this, the people that feature on these shows are not educated middle class professionals. They are generally poorly educated, often unemployed and most importantly not able to articulate their thoughts adequatly and allow Jezza to speak for them. Without fail at some point on the show there will be a massive row with plenty of pointing and shouting and the inevitable entrance of the security team and the whole sorry ends results in humiliation for the poor sods involved. There complete lack of intelligence is taken complete advantage of.
I hope that doesn't sound patronising or cruel although I fear it does. I can see it now, these people are recruited, well spoken pleasent reserachers who promise them an end to all their problems where professional counsellors will get involved and it will be happily ever after. What they get is some utter arsehole creating bad day time entertainment for the masses.
I don't know what you do with the people that are featured on this show because they clearly have their problems but this clearly isn't it.
*Update* - Sunday 7 September
Today's Oberver features and extensive article from behind the scenes at Jeremy Kyle, and yes, it is every bit as vile as I suspected it was. As Carole Cadwalladr writes, they stopped this kind of spectacle at Bedlam in the 18th century.
Go have a read here.