ITV boss insists she WOULD let her children go on Love Island

ITV boss insists she WOULD let her children go on Love Island as MPs grill her on channel’s treatment of reality TV stars

  • Dame Carolyn McCall said she would let her children appear on ITV’s Love Island 
  • She said ITV had created tough duty of care plan for reality show contestants 
  • Channel’s chief executive was giving evidence to MPs on future of broadcasting when she was forced to defend ITV for airing Jeremy Kyle Show for 15 years 

ITV’s chief executive has said that she would let her children go on Love Island as MPs yesterday grilled her on the channel’s treatment of reality TV stars.

Dame Carolyn McCall was giving evidence to MPs yesterday on how the coronavirus crisis has affected public service broadcasting when she revealed that ITV has created a more stringent duty of care plan for reality show contestants.

She had been forced to defend the channel for letting the Jeremy Kyle Show run for 15 years until guest Steven Dymond, 63, killed himself a week after failing a lie detector test while filming an episode of the programme in May 2019.  

Dame Carolyn told the committee ITV’s new duty of care plan went beyond Ofcom’s code and included tougher pre-screening of applicants, training on the risks of being in the public eye and a focus on continuing aftercare when a show finished.

MP Kevin Brennan told her that ITV’s reality TV measures sounded like ‘provisions for someone with PTSD’ and asked if she would be happy if her own children took part in Love Island, the popular dating series which has known a number of suicides by contestants including Mike Thalassitis and Sophie Gradon. 

Concerns about the show were raised again earlier this year after Love Island host Caroline Flack killed herself while awaiting trial on assault charges. 

Dame Carolyn told the committee: ‘What we are trying to do is prevent people coming back out of a very compressed environment. 

‘A lot of people love it, they have spoken up and said they enjoy being in it. We are trying to prevent them coming back to the world and not adapting because their lives have changed a bit because of the experiences they have had. 

‘Your question was about my own children, I would say if they were completely appraised of it… I wouldn’t say no.’

Dame Carolyn McCall was giving evidence to MPs on how the coronavirus crisis has affected public service broadcasting when she revealed that ITV has created a more stringent duty of care plan for reality show contestants following a rise in the number of suicides linked to the Jeremy Kyle Show, which was axed last year after a guest killed himself, and Love Island


MP Kevin Brennan told Dame Carolyn that ITV’s reality TV duty of care measures sounded like ‘provisions for someone with PTSD’ and asked if she would be happy if her own children took part in Love Island, the popular dating series which has known a number of suicides by contestants including Mike Thalassitis (left) and Sophie Gradon (right)

In a fiery exchange with DCMS chairman Julian Knight, Dame Carolyn also defended the processes followed by the production and said that the show had been on air for 15 years and more than a million people watched it every day on ITV. 

Mr Knight said: ‘The use of the lie detector tests and it being presented as absolutely infallible on issues that are absolutely life changing for people who come on the show its reprehensible, those people deserve some sort of reparation.’

Dame Carolyn said: ‘I have a lot of sympathy for people who went on willingly to do a lie detector test. They are legal, they were not illegal. 

‘It was very clear at the start of this programme that they could be inaccurate. It never claimed there was 100 per cent accuracy, it actually said on every show that lie detector tests could be inaccurate.

‘These people were also briefed about that, every participant was briefed about lie detector tests and I’m afraid a lot of people went on the show to do it.

‘As you know, I’ve also said we won’t be using lie detector tests in the future on any shows. We have already closed that down because we feel, even if you say this, the people interpret because they so believe in the test… it’s open to misinterpretation.’

ITV’s chief executive has said that she would let her children go on Love Island (pictured, contestants posing in a promo for this year’s show) as MPs grilled her on the channel’s treatment of reality TV stars. A number of Love Island contestants have committed suicide, and show host Caroline Flack killed herself this year in her London flat while awaiting trial


Tragic: Steven Dymond (left), 63, was said to have been left in tears and feeling suicidal after filming for Jeremy Kyle with his on-and-off girlfriend Jane Callaghan (right, with Mr Dymond) and would later die after an overdose

Jeremy Kyle recently confirmed he will be returning to television soon, nine months after his chat show was axed following the suicide of one of its guests (pictured May 2019)

Mr Knight hit back: ‘So it was the contestants fault that they believed the lie detector tests were true? The Roman Coliseum held 55,000, it doesn’t mean because it was popular it was right.’ 

The ITV chief executive hit back: ‘It has been regulated for 15 years,’ to which Mr Knight replied: ‘Not well enough.’

Dame Carolyn defended the channel while giving evidence to MPs about how Covid-19 has affected ITV, in the second session of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee’s inquiry into the future of public service broadcasting. 

Dame Carolyn also issued a warning that it is ‘inevitable’ that its schedule will continue to be packed with repeats after the coronavirus pandemic laid waste to the summer sporting calendar and forced bosses to axe hits such as Love Island.

She said ITV has resumed about 38 productions, and staff are being brought back from furlough, but said that viewers will see less original programming until the Autumn. 

Dame Carolyn McCall said ITV has resumed about 38 productions, and staff are being brought back from furlough.

Clive Tyldesley, 65, says he can’t understand why he is being ‘sacked’ as ITV’s voice of football after 22 years 

Legendary commentator Clive Tyldesley has revealed his dejection in an emotional video after being replaced in his lead role with ITV after 22 years in the job. 

Tyldesley’s voice has provided the backdrop to historic matches over more than two decades at major international tournaments and the biggest games in club football, including 17 Champions League finals. 

ITV announced that the 65-year-old he will be replaced by 42-year-old Sam Matterface from the start of the new season and Tyldesley appeared devastated by the decision as he posted a video reacting to the announcement. 

He said: ‘If you haven’t seen the announcement, I am being replaced as ITV’s senior football commentator. Quite a few people have been in touch with me, asking me to react, to comment, um, I’m not sure that would be a very good idea at the moment.  

‘I was told about three weeks ago so I have had some time to get my head around the decision but I haven’t got my head around it. To be clear this is ITV’s decision, not mine. I’m upset, annoyed, baffled… I would have been interested in commentating on the Euro 2020 final for them less than 48 hours ago but now I won’t be commentating on any of the big England games over the coming year and I’m going to miss them, I love this job, and it has gone. Why? I don’t know. I do not know exactly why this decision has been taken, already I’ve got the producer of a broadcast I am working on asking if I’ve got any health issues. No! I’ve got no health issues.

‘Asking me if it is something that I have done… no there’s nothing. I gather one or two sites are reporting that I’ve been sacked. Well, I guess I have from one job but I’ve done nothing wrong’.

She added: ‘We are not producing drama because we haven’t found a way yet because the distancing rules are very difficult. They are people who will come off furlough last.’ 

Asked if there will be a lot of repeats to fill the schedule, ITV’s Dame Carolyn McCall said: ‘It’s inevitable there will be some repeats this summer in particular, the summer schedule is the most challenged, the Euros (football) were meant to be on, Love Island was meant to be on.

‘We will try and do that cleverly, not just old classics, we will try to re-curate. It’s not in our interest not to want viewers to view.

‘The autumn is not bad, we have a strong schedule, we have some dramas that we have saved from Q1.’

Citing the return of The X Factor, Britain’s Got Talent and The Masked Singer, she said: ‘We have got our big entertainment shows coming back, even without audiences.’ 

Dame Carolyn McCall said advertising is still ‘nowhere near what is was,’ adding: ‘It will only return with consumer confidence and business confidence.’

Discussing cutting the ITV programme budget by £100 million, she said the vast majority of the cuts will not reduce programme budgets because they have not been able to be made at all.

Asked if she was proud to head up the company that ran The Jeremy Kyle Show for as long as it did and if Kyle would return to screens again, Dame Carolyn McCall said: ‘It was a highly regulated show, it was a conflict resolution show, it was not to everyone’s tastes.

‘It may surprise you to know that I actually got hundred of emails complaining about stopping the show when we stopped it because they thought it was their own outlet of being able to listen and understand problems that were in their own lives.’

Referring to clips of behind-the-scenes footage the committee was previously shown, chairman Julian Knight said: ‘Frankly they are outrageous, these were people who were taken off screen and presented with an individual who was meant to be a psychiatric counsellor and they were filmed during these processes.

‘They were baited over a long period of time. My jaw is dropping at the lack of contrition here from ITV and from yourself as a chief executive.’ 

He added: ‘I’m just astounded that you don’t accept the premise that this programme itself, although it ran for 15 years and seemingly was highly popular, it involved the psychological, not torture, but the psychological exposure of very vulnerable people to often public… people who were out there in the public domain who should have not been in the public domain.

‘I’m just surprised you can’t see that perhaps that was the wrong step and perhaps ITV should have ended it earlier, and perhaps we shouldn’t see its like on TV again.’   

Dame Carolyn McCall told Julian Knight: ‘I can’t talk for my predecessors, I can simply say that we stopped The Jeremy Kyle Show not because it had done anything out of regulation, it had followed processes and procedures and done all things that were guidelines for a show like that.’

ITV have axed the Winter series of Love Island, with the show returning to screens in 2021

She told the DCMS Committee: ‘It had not been criticised in the way that you (just) criticised it over that 15 years.

‘I think a lot has changed; I think if you look at the show today you wonder how it could have been on for so long – I agree with you – but a lot has changed in that intervening period.’

She continued: ‘I’m proud of a range of things ITV does, I’m proud of ITV. That particular show did polarise opinion, everyone on that show knew what the show was, it was informed consent, it was adults, they went through a screening and vetting process, they went through quite a lot of hoops before they went on that show, but it was conflict resolution – it was not always comfortable to view, yet people viewed it.

‘We have said that we will not be doing a show like The Jeremy Kyle Show again, we have been very clear about that, I have been very clear about that.’

Asked if there are roles the black actors cannot be cast in, Dame Carolyn McCall said; ‘No, not at all.’

She added: ‘There is a difference between ‘can it happen and does it happen’ and we have to work much harder for it to happen.’

She continued: ‘There is not enough representation at every single level at ITV. That is what we need to focus on. It needs to be at senior leadership team, board level and all the way down.’

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