ITV defends its man in the human bear-baiting row

Why? Because Jeremy Kyle has a 34% audience share (at 9.25am!)
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Jeremy Kyle has a "unique style of resolving issues". So says the ITV blurb about his controversial morning chat show. Judge Alan Berg prefers to be blunter, describe Kyle's style as a "human form of bear-baiting".

His harsh verdict on The Jeremy Kyle Show, which takes a 34 per cent audience share, was handed down after a security guard who head-butted his wife's lover in front of the studio audience found himself in court on assault charges.

But far from taking aim at David Staniforth, 45, for leaving Larry Mahoney, 39, a bus driver and the couple's former tenant, nursing a bloody nose, Judge Berg reserved his venom for the millionaire chat-show host. "I have had the misfortune of viewing The Jeremy Kyle Show, and it seems to me that its whole purpose is to effect a morbid and depressing display of dysfunctional people who are in some kind of turmoil," he said. Staniforth was fined £300.

Judge Berg said: "It shouldn't surprise anyone that these people, some of whom have limited intellects, become aggressive with each other. This type of incident is exactly what the producers want."

There were later reports that alcoholics appearing on the show had been plied with drink beforehand to fuel proceedings.

Learndirect, a quango involved in adult learning, which had an advertising deal worth about £500,000 with the show, withdrew its sponsorship in the aftermath of the row. Perhaps not surprisingly, it believed that "continued sponsorship would not protect the strength and reputation of Learndirect".

Yet there remains a steady supply of people willing to wash their dirty laundry in public. Not to mention the 1.5 million viewers who, according to Judge Berg, "have nothing better to do with their mornings than sit and watch this show, a human form of bear-baiting which goes under the guise of entertainment".

The memory of the American Jenny Jones Show – in which one guest later killed a friend who had confessed live on air to having a gay crush on him – lingers on.