For those of you who are avid followers of Beyond The Title, you may be slightly surprised by this week’s subject. In a career spanning two decades, Jeremy Kyle went from presenting a late night sports show on commercial radio to fronting Britain’s leading public talk show for over fourteen years. Yet the clientele of The Jeremy Kyle Show seemed a million miles away from his own middle class upbringing where his father was a personal secretary to the late Queen Mother. The young Jeremy held no desire to follow his father into the service industry. Instead he had the ambition to emulate his hero Michael Parkinson and present a television chat show. We were lucky enough to obtain a very rare interview with Mr Kyle, who doesn’t partake in too many interviews and I must say, it was great.
Press play, below, to listen to the full interview
Beginning his career as a salesman, Jeremy was quick to make the move to broadcasting. Self confessed as “the worst musical DJ ever,” he discovered the ability to find subjects which stirred a reaction from his audience. In 2002 Kyle secured a late night phone in show on Virgin Radio entitled Jezza’s Virgin Confessions which ran for four hours each weekday evening. It was here that Jeremy realised his talent for helping people with their problems and finding the perfect balance between care and intrusiveness. Just a year later, Jeremy was promoted to the 9am until 1pm weekday slot as his appeal continued to grow. This was the era when Chris Evans became a major shareholder in the station and sadly Jeremy became the collateral damage in Evans’ downfall.
Now dismissed from Virgin, in 2006 ITV made Jeremy a surprise proposal for a weekday morning talk show of his namesake. Drawing inspiration from American styled talk shows like The Jerry Springer Show and Oprah, The Jeremy Kyle Show adhered to the conflict/resolution structure but with the added element of providing aftercare led by Graham and his team of highly experienced therapists and counsellors. Jeremy and the production team take their job very seriously and understand that people, in some circumstances, are entrusting them with their lives. This is something that is never taken for granted and Jeremy feels an enormous sense of responsibility to help people with real problems. Yet some would argue that it still raises questions regarding the protection of psychologically vulnerable people in our society.
The array of people who queue up to appear on the show is what makes Jeremy Kyle unique. More than a television programme, this offers members of the public who may not be in a financially stable situation the opportunity to be counselled by a highly skilled team. Whether it’s a suspicious father seeking a DNA test or a whole family being reunited, Jeremy always tackles thought provoking stories which require emotional investment from the audience. To use this to its fullest potential, Jeremy is demanded to be as opinionated as possible in order to act as the unmistakable moral voice of the audience. This is testimony to his ability as a broadcaster that he is able to find the balance between impartiality and sympathy.
Apart from domestic disputes, the show also shines a light on inspirational children going through the toughest of times. In partnership with the Make a Wish Foundation, Jeremy has met some of the bravest children in Britain and rewarded them with life changing experiences. He remains adamant that this is a very important aspect of the show and although these specials are often too few and far between, they still go some way to giving both the series and indeed Jeremy himself a sense of perspective. At the risk of devaluing the validity of the regular issues raised in the show; on encountering children with fatal conditions and families coping with awful circumstances, suddenly people cheating on their partners, parents who won’t go to work and rehabilitated drug addicts melts into insignificance. It’s also evidence that The Jeremy Kyle Show isn’t afraid to shy away from hard hitting stories which grip the nation. This is when his talent as a broadcaster comes to the forefront and suddenly it’s no longer a talk show, more vital lessons in life. Maybe this is the real objective of the show.
More recently, Jeremy has joined the team on ITV’s Good Morning Britain where he presides over the biggest stories of the day alongside a presenting team including: Kate Garroway, Susannah Reid and Charlotte Hawkins. It is obvious that Jeremy feels just at home debating the biggest political stories as he does presiding over people’s personal problems and treats both with equal respect. This is possibly the reason as to why ITV chose him to front a series of investigation programmes similar to the semifinal Cook Report. Now on its fourth series, The Kyle Files has investigated some of the biggest stories affecting Britain today. From knife crime and legal highs to under age drinking and drug culture, if it’s got Britain talking, Jeremy and the team will cover it. In the time slot previously occupied by Tonight With Trevor McDonald in between the double bill of Coronation Street, The Kyle Files has become appointment to view television for anyone who wants to learn more about the world around them.
Now 52, Jeremy is quick to take nothing for granted. He absolutely loves what he does but, “when the Grim Reaper of television” comes knocking he won’t fight to maintain his fame as family always comes first. Jeremy’s adoration for his family is something that beams from him in all that he does and says and is an incredibly endearing quality that I don’t experience all too often when doing these interviews. With that being said, being such a successful and consummate broadcaster, I doubt that Grim Reaper will be on his way any time soon! It was a great pleasure to meet Jeremy Kyle and learn more about a man who receives such mixed publicity. We wish him all the very best for the future.