Newsbeat

Jeremy Kyle Show: 'I used to work as a runner'

Jeremy Kyle Image copyright ITV

The Jeremy Kyle Show has been suspended after a guest was found dead following the recording of an episode.

The news has opened up a debate around the most popular show on ITV's daytime schedule.

Below is a glimpse of what it's like to work on the programme from a former employee, who wants to remain anonymous:

I have a confession to make. I worked on The Jeremy Kyle Show.

I was what the TV industry calls a runner - someone who, funnily enough, runs about the place fetching food for crew members, making tea and coffee and looking after guests coming onto the programme.

I did it for a month about three years ago and had also been working on other programmes before I came to Kyle.

"Studio days", when the live audience are there and the programme is recorded, were really long. There was no leaving the building unless it was to get the director a katsu curry, or to calm down a guest by taking them outside for a cig.

I saw things that you would never imagine happening on any other TV programme - guests running around the place uncontrollably, screaming and swearing at production crew. Guests and producers would argue and you can guarantee a guest would tell you "where to go".

Image caption Television runners are rarely seen without a headset (file picture)

Runners were given a headset and clipboard that opened up - a useful place to store a pack of 20 cigarettes - and a lighter for guests who wanted a smoke before and after recordings.

The cigarettes were provided by ITV, because guests can't bring them in the studio.

Guests were put up in a hotel close to the studio, sometimes with access to a mini bar so they could get wasted the night before.

A friend who also worked on the show told me guests from the programme were banned from certain hotels because rooms were being trashed.

Runners now have to ferry people to and from a hotel miles away from the studio in taxis.

The clothes you see the guests wear are sometimes not their own. The show might give them a basic jeans and T-shirt combo or sometimes a more stereotypical tracksuit and hoodie look - and those have to be given back afterwards.

Image copyright ITV

Guests had separate hotel rooms, dressing rooms, and green rooms - and their assigned runner on studio day would walk them around via selected coloured corridors to avoid contact.

Runners would warn colleagues through the headset that they were taking their guest through the yellow corridor to make-up, for example. If you had the guest on the opposing side, you knew to use the blue corridor to avoid any conflict - producers wanted any arguments saved for the actual programme.

Producers and researchers would be talking to guests for hours before the show began, passing information across. I heard them saying things like, "You won't believe what I just heard your fella say to me just now".

On one occasion I was in the dressing room and overheard a producer tell a guest that their girlfriend had called them a "slag". This was normal - you didn't even question it.

Image copyright ITV

Just before going on-air, the producer or researcher stood with guests just inches away from where they would meet Jezza for the first (and probably last) time, and say one final remark.

I once heard a producer tell a guest: "We don't want you to be violent - but you do whatever you need to do out there."

Sometimes, if guests don't like the way Jeremy has treated them or the show hasn't gone their way, they could get aggressive and even violent towards production staff.

Producers suddenly changed their tune if that happened.

Jeremy once called a guest I was looking after a liar because he failed a lie-detector test.

The guest stormed off stage, pushed me over and the producer ran after them, screaming at them to come back.

I remember them saying something along the lines of… "You can't go. Have you forgotten what she said about you? Get back in there and tell her what you think!"

Radio 1 Newsbeat contacted ITV about the claims made in this article by the former employee. A spokesman says it does "not recognise this characterisation" of The Jeremy Kyle Show.

In a more general statement to the BBC, ITV said The Jeremy Kyle Show "has significant and detailed duty of care processes in place for contributors pre, during and post show".

ITV says its "guest welfare team" - made up of a consultant psychotherapist and three mental health nurses - looks after people coming onto the show.

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