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‘The Jeremy Kyle Show’: Britain’s secret love

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Last week, I introduced my students to one of the UK's most-hated yet most-loved things. It is perhaps the most well-known TV show in Britain, and certainly part of Britain's popular culture.

The Jeremy Kyle Show.

What is it?

The Jeremy Kyle Show is a typical example of trash TV. The presenter, Jeremy Kyle, introduces a couple or a family who are having problems and tries to resolve these issues. This is done either through a lie detector test, a DNA test or usually by simply shouting at one another until somebody confesses their guilt.

The problems dealt with on the show are usually about personal problems or relationships. The best episodes (and the worst guests) are those with the most ridiculous problems. Some previous crazy headlines include:

  • “My boyfriend had his ears removed to look like a parrot!”
  • “Sister, I’ll prove you stole my iPad then admit you stole my underwear!”
  • “I’ll leave my boyfriend if he doesn’t stop eating cereal!”

Because of this, the show’s credibility is often questioned, despite the fact that many people in Britain know someone from their school or their neighbourhood who has been on the show.

The audience is usually no better than the guests. In fact, some of the most popular episodes are ones where Jeremy or his guests have a fight with a member of the audience.

Jeremy himself is not perfect. He is blunt and rude. He humiliates his guests in front of the entire country. But while it is hard to love Jeremy, whenever the guest that he is interviewing verbally attacks him, it is impossible not to want to leap to his defence.

Why do British people love it so much?

No one really knows. It has been criticised for being provocative and for making entertainment out of people’s personal problems.

But many people say that it is sometimes comforting to see that other people have just as many problems as they do. Some people just find it funny to watch Jeremy’s guests getting increasingly angry. In my opinion, it is probably just because there is nothing else to watch on TV (The Jeremy Kyle Show is broadcast every day).

However, sometimes it is because the show really can change lives. In the past it has reunited parents with lost children, saved marriages and resolved family conflicts.

This is why we continue to watch it: we want to know what will happen to people next. 


Do you like trash TV? Why or why not?