A step too far – has entertainment become a substitute for compassion?

ITV’s popular Jeremey Kyle Show which has been running for 14 years has been hastily axed following the recent suicide of a guest, just a week after filming the show.

There have been calls by various individuals, including Politicians, for a review of the duty of care that TV companies owe to participants that appear on reality TV shows. In particular, it has been highlighted that there is a real risk of putting people from disadvantaged backgrounds under the spotlight on a public stage at a point in their life when they are already vulnerable. The Jeremy Kyle show is not the only programme to come under recent scrutiny after the deaths of two former contestants from the popular show Love Island.

A duty of care is a legal obligation which is imposed and requires adherence to a standard of reasonable care whilst undertaking any activities which could foreseeably harm others. In this case, that duty extends not only to guests on the show, but also anyone involved in the show, including employees who may be affected by the experiences, and requires steps to be taken to ensure their health, safety and welfare.

This week is Mental Health Awareness week. Mental Health charity Mind describes how mental wellbeing is dynamic and can change from moment to moment, day to day or month to month. Individuals who lack confidence and positive self-esteem, who are unable to build or maintain good relationships, who find it difficult to express emotion, adapt to change and cope with the stresses of daily life are likely to have low mental wellbeing. Mind explains how wellbeing and mental health are connected – if you experience low mental wellbeing over a period of time, you are more likely to develop a mental health problem. No doubt this is a stark reminder that the need to safeguard the welfare of vulnerable guests and assess their mental wellbeing is something which needs to be undertaken at every stage, including before, during and after filming.

Despite this sad story, there has also been a massive amount of support for the show, including from celebrity guests who have praised the care they have been given as well as from a very loyal audience.

ITV have confirmed that they will continue to work with Jeremey Kyle on other projects, however the same may not be true of all other individuals involved in the show who may well now find themselves out of a job and further, may have learned of their potential redundancy from the news or social media

For further advice on redundancy, your duty of care or mental health in the workplace, contact Lianne Payne, Head of Employment:

Email: Lianne@askewslegal.co

Askews Legal LLP, 5 The Quadrant, Coventry, CV1 2EL Tel: 024 7623 1000 www.askewslegal.co

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