The Jeremy Kyle Show is under the microscope in a new “fast turnaround” episode of Channel 4’s Despatches, which makes a number of startling claims about the ITV daytime show.
The programme was taken off air following the death of a participant earlier this month.
Following its cancellation, a number of former producers have lifted the lid on what it was allegedly like backstage – with ITV being forced to defend the controversial show.
The Dispatches special – which airs tonight at 8pm – will see one anonymous producer state that some production staff “would smoke weed with guests in the hotels the day before to keep them happy”.
Recalling one alleged incident, they add: “There was a contributor who was a drug addict and had since stopped taking drugs and cleaned their act up.
“But in actual fact the show wanted them to be on drugs, because there was no ‘story’ without it.
“One of the producers was asked ‘get that person to take drugs again’ and at one point was asked ‘leave money lying around on a table so they will take that money and go and buy drugs with it’.”
Another producer, employed to make a behind-the-scenes documentary about The Jeremy Kyle Show in 2012, claims that he saw alcohol being given to guests backstage.
“When I was filming backstage in the corridor, I would see cans of lager mainly, going backwards and forwards,” he explains. “I asked who it was going to and they said it was going to the contributors who were appearing on the show. And I asked why… because I’d never seen alcohol being distributed in this manner on a TV production.
“And I was told that the alcohol was for medicinal purposes, that some of the contributors were alcoholics and that the show was allowed to give alcoholics medicinal alcohol in order to keep them topped up to you know for medicinal purposes to help them.”
ITV has hit back at both of these claims, with a spokesperson labelling the marijuana allegation “untrue” and stating: “ITV would never condone illegal drug taking.”
Addressing the alcohol claims, they say “alcohol is banned in the studio” adding that “the only exception is in relation to a small number of guests who are going on to a residential rehabilitation programme after their appearance on the show”.
“In these cases, an appropriate level of alcohol is dispensed by staff professionally qualified in alcohol misuse, purely in order to prevent alcohol withdrawal symptoms,” they say. “All guests, including alcohol dependant ones, are monitored throughout their time in the studio.”
Dispatches will also explore the show’s use of lie detector tests, which were questioned by Ofcom and a TV expert earlier this week, and see guests discuss their experiences of appearing on the show.
Earlier this month, two previous participants – one celebrity and one member of the public – told HuffPost UK how they felt “railroaded” into appearing, slamming the programme for “preying on people’s insecurities”.
“There was absolutely no aftercare for us,” Bronwyn Driver, now 40, said. “The only time we heard something was when we’d get a letter to say, ‘your show is due to go on air again, please let us know if there are any criminal convictions’.
“We were fortunate in the way we were on the show. I was undergoing counselling at work so I was supported from another angle but someone else might not be in the same place, or have the same support.”
Jeremy Kyle: TV on Trial is on Channel 4 tonight (Monday, May 27) at 8pm.