Here’s how – and why – the Jeremy Kyle Show could be saved – Helen Martin

The critics who piled in to attack The Jeremy Kyle Show have never watched it
The critics who piled in to attack The Jeremy Kyle Show have never watched it
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AS respected journalists, psychologists, academics and any other bright ­commentators expressed their view about the axing of the Jeremy Kyle Show following a guest’s suicide, most had one point in common. They’d never watched it.

It was hardly a high rating amongst the intelligentsia. Nor is any other ­reality programme. Celebrity magazines and celebrity special quiz shows on TV feature unknown ‘stars’ who turn out to be participants from Love Island, The Only Way Is Essex or Made in Chelsea, most of whom are happy to share their privacy, romances and sexuality, aiming to get their foot on the first rung of the fame ladder.

Judge Rinder's take on reality TV is much more palatable than most

Judge Rinder's take on reality TV is much more palatable than most

There are national concerns about the ups and downs of reality shows, others of which have also led to participants taking their own lives. But there are tamer versions too, such as Judge Rinder. He’s a nice geezer, ­following the law, often kind-hearted, and ­working to encourage certain claimants and defendants that their friendships are worth even more than their debt settlements.

But still, the show involves members of the public who want to take part and be on TV rather than use the small claims court. The fact is that most reality shows (though I’d excuse Rinder) appeal to, shall we say, lower socio-economic groups.

The audiences for documentaries, ­Question Time, historical dramas and University Challenge will never watch Kyle or Love Island. Kylers, TOWIES and Love Islanders will never watch historical docudramas or an academic question final between Oxford and Cambridge.

We’re a split viewing nation and the scrapping of Jeremy Kyle’s ‘chat show’ is not going to please the regular ­viewers, rated on average at about one million a day for 3,500 episodes since 2005.

The 9.25am timing means that, apart from the ease of recording, most ­viewers aren’t at work in the ­morning. That doesn’t make them bad folk.

I’ve tuned in, albeit only once or twice, if I felt depressed. Why? Because it could be therapeutic, ­substantially confirming that auld Scottish saying: “There’s aye someone worse off than yersel’” – they all were.

For those with an ongoing poor, hard life, it really was more realistic than ­University Challenge. Watching it meant they didn’t feel alone. And (though it’s alleged the Kyle team recruited folk with problems by seeking them out in rough or deprived areas), 95 per cent called in themselves applying to guest on the show. Was it to access DNA tests or unreliable lie detector tests they couldn’t afford? Was it an attempt to solve a problem about infidelity, abuse or parenthood? Was it really in the hope of getting specialist counselling or help and possibly saving them from suicide? Or was it just to achieve the adventure of being on the telly and exposing their and their opponent’s aggro to the whole country?

JK never featured professionals, academics, or affluent and successful folk – who wouldn’t want any of their life’s problems televised. Yet they are the ones who have decided on banning the programme.

The aggression of the show is what makes it cringeworthy. But if it was reformed, with more from psychotherapists, a calmer audience and a constructive Rinder-type theme, we might all watch it – those who always have, and those of us who need to be more aware of how the other half have to live. It could be the best and most helpful ­reality show of all.

People’s Survey? Which people?

HOW does the Edinburgh People’s Survey settle on 5000 residents interviewed face-to-face, in the street or door-to-door?

Our conservation area is known for its big, posh houses – though ours isn’t. The historic walled lane beside us is often floored with smashed bottles. The walls are decorated in graffiti as are metal junction boxes and street furniture.

We are informed of area burglaries almost every month and we are regularly the location for thugs smashing car windows and stealing contents. That didn’t show up on the survey. Our awful pavements and roads at least were reflected in the results.

Satisfaction with council management of the neighbourhood and city was 73 per cent and 65 per cent. Yet the feedback we publish from readers tells a very different story.

It would be good to find out how those taking part are ‘selected’ and how typical their neighbourhood is. We possibly need another, broader questionnaire to establish how many ratepayers agree with the results.

Nursing ambition

LOTHIAN Tory MSP Miles Briggs has called for more men to consider nursing as a career for them and not just women – especially as we have a shortage.

Well he’s bang on.

When my late mother (who worked as a nurse all her life) was in a local nursing home, her male nurses and carers were great. The idea that only women can nurture, care, be gentle, friendly and polite to patients is rubbish. No one assumes that with doctors, so why when it comes to nursing? One of my son’s best nannies when he was a wee chap was also a young man . . . unusual at the time.

Some parts of feminism I agree with, others I don’t. But if women want and earn opportunities previously enjoyed by men, then men should also be encouraged as primary school teachers and heads, nurses, carers, nannies and child carers. We want an equal society, don’t we?