Jeremy Kyle and a dose of reality: How can our obsession with voyeuristic TV end when we love it so much?

The cancellation of the Jeremy Kyle Show after a contestant died has thrown the spotlight on to reality TV shows. But, wonders David Barnett, will anything ever change?

Wednesday 29 May 2019 16:28
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Has Jeremy Kyle been thrown under a bus – a sacrificial sop to offer evidence that TV networks do take action?
Has Jeremy Kyle been thrown under a bus – a sacrificial sop to offer evidence that TV networks do take action?

On a Saturday in September a 28-year-old woman called Mary Richardson took her own life after drinking beer laced with rat poison. At her inquest, Eliza Withers told how Mary was the lover of her son, Henry, and had lived with her at their home in Hull for six months. She described Mary as quick to anger, and said that on the day she died Mary had been told by neighbours that Henry was with another woman.

The other woman, a Mrs Kirk, was married but her husband was away. Henry had spent the night at her house after drinking with her. Later that night, Mary killed herself by putting three packets of strychnine into a glass of beer and drinking it.

At the inquest, it was reported that a crowd “several hundred” strong, mainly women, gathered and when Mrs Kirk left the hearing they followed her, “hooting and hissing all the way”. She had an escort of four policemen for fear there would be violence against her by the angry mob. An unedifying story, and one with all the elements that make perhaps the perfect Jeremy Kyle Show. A philandering man, an unfaithful wife, copious amounts of alcohol, a tragic death and a baying crowd.

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