The presenter, who had hosted The Jeremy Kyle Show since 2005, has stayed out of the public eye since the ITV daytime programme was taken off air, only issuing a brief public statement saying he and his team were “utterly devastated by the recent events”.
The Commons digital, culture, media and sport select committee wants him to answer questions about the reality TV industry and how it treats participants.
“We’re hoping that Jeremy Kyle will take this opportunity to come and answer questions about measures taken to prepare and support contestants,” the committee chair, Damian Collins, said. “As someone who was at the centre of this long-running show, we believe that his perspective on reality TV will be of particular value to our inquiry.”
Kyle has been given until next week to fix a date for his appearance. He could be found in contempt of parliament if he refuses to appear in front of MPs, although recent cases have highlighted that there is a limited amount that politicians can do to make people give evidence.
Kyle could find himself publicly shamed in the national media if he fails to attend the hearing, which will focus on how the show exercised its duty of care towards participants and on the wider issues facing reality TV shows.
The inquiry will look at other programmes, such as Love Island, ITV’s highly profitable reality TV ratings hit which returned this week with record viewing figures for a launch programme.
The programme, which is attracting young audiences who often eschew live television, has come under increasing scrutiny after the incident on The Jeremy Kyle Show and the suicides of two former participants. In response, Love Island staff have announced extra safeguarding measures, especially with regards to coping with the pressures of social media fame.
ITV’s chief executive, Dame Carolyn McCall, chairman, Sir Peter Bazalgette, and director of content compliance, Chris Wissun, are to appear in front of MPs on Tuesday 25 June. Further public hearings involving former reality TV participants and programme-makers will be held over the following months.
• In the UK and Ireland, Samaritans can be contacted on 116 123 or email email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org. In the US, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255. In Australia, the crisis support service Lifeline is 13 11 14. Other international suicide helplines can be found at www.befrienders.org.
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