What’s With The Jeremy Kyle Show?

Alex Ogden puts the kybosh on Kyle.

In the run up to its tenth anniversary in July 2015, the Jeremy Kyle Show is still incredibly popular – but why?

Though not as blatant as programmes such as Skint and Benefits Streetthe show is still thinly veiled classism, persistently making working class people the butt of marginalising jokes.

Fifty years ago, scriptwriter Johnny Speight allowed East End crackpot Alf Garnett to appear more human than Jeremy Kyle’s guests are made to look – and he was making stuff up!

To me, the Jeremy Kyle Show feels like the present-day equivalent of medieval peasant fighting: people of a lower class torn apart while those above them squeal with delight.

Any Brit who’s slumped in front of the telly pre-lunchtime is familiar with the format: Jeremy and his band of producers scour the UK for working class specimens, each more troubled than the last. In front of a live audience and camera crew, the often undereducated guests are then coaxed into revealing their very real, very bleak issues, while Kyle, leering in his bourgeois suit, acts as both judge and jury.

Guests are encouraged to think that an appearance on the show will solve their problems, making them famous or, at the very least, taking them temporarily out of an awkward situation and into a swanky hotel. Instead, they are ridiculed and belittled in the name of entertainment.

‘PUT SOMETHING ON THE END OF IT!’, Kyle lectures his guest, instead of turning his frustration on the inadequacy of sex education in Britain

‘GET OFF YOUR BACKSIDE AND GET A JOB!’, he bellows, making noises at his guest rather than the government responsible for record youth unemployment rates.

‘MAYBE IF YOU CUT BACK ON THE WEED!, Kyle conjectures, ignoring his guest’s prior struggles with addiction.

Why do the public allow this? Why is there not rioting in the streets, mass protest, and online uproar at the regular broadcast of such blatant working class dehumanisation? Perhaps because many of the guests are ‘benefits scroungers’, i.e. the worst kind of people, allegedly.

To quote Jeremy himself: ‘well, well, well. . . . that’s not entirely true, is it?’ It’s a fact that tax evasion by the wealthy eats more into public spending than benefit fraud.  In 2013-14, tax evasion was officially estimated to have taken £4.1bn away from HMRC, with benefit fraud totalling £1.2 billion – nearly four times LESS than unpaid tax..

The Jeremy Kyle Show is used to paint the unemployed and the working class as the enemy. It blames the government’s failings on the working class. If only the anger of both Jeremy Kyle and his devoted viewers could be turned on the system – clearly a more deserving party, perhaps we wouldn’t have such a classist and oppressive society.