Judge’s ‘bear-baiting’ comment resurfaces as Jeremy Kyle Show axed

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By Polly Botsford on

Whilst Kyle’s US counterpart, Jerry Springer, is sued for wrongful death just as he is set to make debut as Judge Jerry


The prescient words of District Judge Alan Berg slamming the highly controversial daytime Jeremy Kyle Show have come back to the fore following the announcement today that the show has been permanently cancelled.

Berg came up with his vivid description of the show in a magistrate court case way back in 2007. He said at the time: “It is less a show than a form of human bear-baiting — that is how I see it — which goes under the guise of entertainment.”

The judge’s bear-baiting label has made the headlines again recently as a result of renewed public concern over the morality of the show in the light of the death of one individual, Steven Dymond, after taking a lie detector test whilst filming, culminating in today’s announcement that ITV has permanently cancelled it.

Berg was the judge in the Manchester case regarding one David Staniforth who headbutted another individual during the show after he had an affair with Staniforth’s wife. Reported in the Manchester Evening News at the time, Berg said:

“It seems to me that the purpose of this show is to effect a morbid and depressing display of dysfunctional people whose lives are in turmoil, often in some perceived or actual dispute with each other for the purposes of titillating bored members of the public who have nothing better to do in the morning than watch trash TV.”

He also observed: “This type of incident is exactly what the producers want.”

Though the case and the judge’s scathing indictment were widely covered by the press at the time, The Jeremy Kyle Show continued to run and run clocking up 3,000 shows since 2005 — right up until today, over a decade later.

Nor was Berg the only judge to pass judgment on the ITV hit show. A couple of years later, in 2009, a similar case came before a judge in Peterborough Crown Court. In this case, an individual had appeared on the show along with his girlfriend at the time over his accusations of her infidelity. When they watched the programme later together, it prompted another terrible dispute between the two culminating in Jamie Juste assaulting the girlfriend; he was jailed for two years for it.

Judge Sean Enright hearing the case commented:

“I have not seen this show, which I believe is classified as light entertainment, but there is plainly an element of cruelty and exploitation in what takes place.”

He also said to Juste that his sentence “would have been higher still but for the involvement of the television show, which seems to have fed your insecurities.”

Meanwhile, in the US, Jerry Springer, whose show from the 1990s arguably created the formula that The Jeremy Kyle Show imitated so successfully, has been in a lawsuit of wrongful death being brought by the family of a young man who appeared on the show and who, later on, took his own life.

Filed in Jefferson Circuit Court earlier this month, the family of Blake Alvey are suing Springer as well as the network, NBC. The suit alleges that Alvey killed himself “as a result of severe emotional and mental suffering and anguish.”

The family issued a statement that: “The Jerry Springer Show was designed to humiliate and exploit people like Blake, [disregarding] the devastating consequences that their conduct can have on people’s lives.”

This does not appear to have hampered Springer’s or NBC’s ambitions in the reality TV world. Though the original show was axed last year, they will be launching a new show, Judge Jerry, this Autumn.

An inquest into the death of Steven Dymond is expected shortly at Portsmouth Coroners Court.

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