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  1. ITV Report

Man's death after Jeremy Kyle show 'deeply disturbing' says spokesman for Theresa May

  • Video report by ITV News Correspondent Dan Rivers

The Prime Minister has described the death of a man following an appearance on the Jeremy Kyle show as "deeply disturbing".

Theresa May's official spokesman said Steve Dymond's death - by an apparent suicide - highlighted the need for support for guests.

He said: "Broadcasters and production companies have a responsibility for the mental health and wellbeing of participants and viewers of their programmes.

"We are clear they must have appropriate levels of support in place."

Friends of Mr Dymond have spoken of their "shock" following his sudden death.

As calls grew for the show to be kept off screens permanently, friends and colleagues of the construction worker described him to ITV News as “happy” and showing "no signs of depression”.

ITV has suspended the show indefinitely following the apparent suicide of 63-year-old Mr Dymond. On Tuesday afternoon, Jeremy Kyle was seen for the first time since the show was taken off-air, arriving back at his home.

Mr Dymond told friends about going on the show and how he hoped it would heal his relationship with his fiancé Jane.

ITV confirmed in a statement it would not screen the episode in which Mr Dymond took part. All previous episodes of the show have also been removed from the ITV Hub.

There have been more calls for the show to be pulled permanently from screens.

Tory MP Charles Walker, a vice-chairman of the all-party parliamentary group on suicide and self-harm prevention, branded it “cruel television”.

He said: “I think that the we all should have done more to flag up this type of television, the problems with this type of television.

“When you take highly strung - often vulnerable – people, you put them under a huge amount of pressure.

“Yes it makes good television but it also makes for cruel television as well.”

And now Downing Street has also weighed in, describing the death as a "deeply concerning case".

The intervention followed that on Monday of MP Damian Collins, chairman of the Commons Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee, who said TV companies "have a duty to care to the people who take part in their programmes".

And Tory MP Simon Hart, who also sits on the committee, described the Jeremy Kyle Show as "car-crash TV which revels in people's terrible misfortune and sometimes their vulnerabilities".

A spokesperson for media watchdog Ofcom said: "This is clearly a very distressing case.

"Although we can only assess content that has been broadcast, we are discussing this programme with ITV as a priority to understand what took place."

In an email to ITV staff, chief executive Carolyn McCall explained why the show was taken down: “This was a very difficult decision to make but we felt that it would be inappropriate to continue to broadcast the show when a participant on It has so recently died.

“This decision is not in any way a reflection on the show, but the best way we think we can protect the show and the production team from this reaction we expect to this death.”

ITV released a statement on Tuesday explaining the steps it takes to fulfill its duty of care to programme contributors.

"All of our processes are regularly reviewed to ensure that they are fit for purpose in an ever changing landscape," it said.

“In the case of The Jeremy Kyle Show, the programme has significant and detailed duty of care processes in place for contributors pre, during and post show which have been built up over 14 years, and there have been numerous positive outcomes from this, including people who have resolved complex and long-standing personal problems."

ITV said that before the show, guests are assessed by a team including one consultant psychotherapist and three mental health nurses.

After appearing, all guests are seen by a member of the guest welfare team to ensure they are feeling "calm and emotionally settled" before any participant leaves to travel home.

ITV added that "appropriate solutions" are found for a guest post-show should they need any ongoing support.

"This could include residential rehabilitation, counselling, anger management, family mediation, child access mediation or couple counselling for example," the statement said.

The broadcaster had previously said it was shocked and saddened at the death and that its thoughts were with family and friends of the deceased.

The show, which first aired in July 2005, is filmed at MediaCityUK in Salford.

The show is known for its direct and feisty discussions as guests discuss personal conflicts and relationship problems in front of the studio audience.