British broadcaster ITV on Wednesday canceled a popular, long-running daytime reality show after the death of a guest who failed a lie-detector test during a recording.
The case has renewed debate about the ethics of tabloid television, and sparked a parliamentary inquiry into the regulation of programs that put members of the public under intense scrutiny.
ITV chief executive Carolyn McCall said “The Jeremy Kyle Show” was being scrapped “given the gravity of recent events.”
The tabloid-style talk show, which had run for 14 years and specialized in emotive, confrontational showdowns, was pulled after 63-year-old Steve Dymond was found dead at a home in Portsmouth, southern England, on May 9.
Media reported that he had killed himself. Police said the death was not suspicious, and a post-mortem will be held to determine the cause.
On an episode filmed earlier this month, Dymond took a lie-detector test to convince his fiancee that he had not been unfaithful, but was told he had failed.
The episode has not been aired.
Dymond’s death has heightened concern in Britain about the stress put on people appearing on reality television and online shows, and program-makers’ duty to protect their guests.
It’s a debate that has raged, off and on, for close to two decades since Britain began making home-grown equivalents of sensationalist U.S. programs like “The Jerry Springer Show” and putting ordinary people under a microscope on reality shows such as “Big Brother.”
ITV was already under pressure following the deaths of two former contestants on reality show “Love Island,” Sophie Gradon and Mike Thalassitis. Gradon’s 2018 death was ruled a suicide at an inquest. An inquest has not yet been held for Thalassitis, who died in March.
Lawmaker Damian Collins, chairman of the House of Commons Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee, said his panel would consider whether there was adequate regulation of reality TV.
“Programs 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,” he said.
“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.”
Simon Wessely, a former head of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, said shows like “Jeremy Kyle” were “the theatre of cruelty.”
“And yes, it might entertain a million people a day, but then again, so did Christians versus lions,” he said.