Now I expect you think I’m going to lambast The Jeremy Kyle Show as sensationalist, bullying rubbish, a modern day amphitheatre. I’m not. I think it’s absolutely brilliant.
The majority of the people who go on his show come from families where no-one is providing a role model of any kind. No-one is dishing out good advice, setting standards or guiding their behaviour in any way. Nobody in authority e.g. social workers, doctors, dole officers or teachers are going to tell them that their behaviour is unacceptable because it’s not their job and they would probably be disciplined for doing so. Even if they did, the people concerned probably wouldn’t listen or just give them a mouthful of abuse.
When they go on the Jeremy Kyle show, firstly, one of the people concerned has actually made the ‘phone call which means that at some level they want to change things. Secondly, if they have genuine problems there is a team on hand who are skilled in the areas in which they need help and support. Thirdly, and in my opinion most importantly Kyle will say to their faces “You are a rubbish father”, “You’re behaving like a slut”, “You should be ashamed of yourself”, “Stop being a useless coward and face your responsibilities”. He says the things that no-one else is ever allowed to say.
Nice, middle class people watching it are probably horrified by the aggressive stance that he takes with some of the participants, but if no-one ever tells it to them straight, what possible chance do they ever have of making their lives better? He can also be incredibly kind and genuinely upset for the people involved but he and the show’s counsellor are still very firm and clear about what needs to be done. What really scares me is that he maybe has two or three guests on every day and they will only represent a tiny fraction of the population who are behaving in similar ways.
I was watching a girl last week was only 19, she had five children by four different fathers and she and her boyfriend were doing a lie detector and a DNA test because he thought he wasn’t the father of her last child and he’d caught her shagging another bloke at a party (“only because I was drunk”) while her baby was upstairs needing to be fed.
Many of the people behave like animals, they have no respect for themselves, their partners, their children or their families. Violent, drug addicted, aggressive people. Sobbing, floundering, chaotic, bewildered people. Some of them can barely speak. Young men and women having unprotected sex with anyone who’s up for it and producing children that no-one wants, no-one knows how to care for and who will grow up to behave in the same nihilistic way.
I have sometimes actually wept when I’ve seen the futility of some of those young people’s lives and the appalling cycle of neglect, lack of respect, laziness and complete absence of responsibility which is as ‘hereditary’ as heart disease, diabetes or mental ill-health. If a session with Jeremy Kyle and his team can sort a few of them out, or stimulate a few others to take a good look at themselves, then the rather voyeuristic nature of the show can be absolutely justified.