A former guest on The Jeremy Kyle Show has praised the show’s ‘faultless’ aftercare in wake of growing criticism.
ITV suspended The Jeremy Kyle Show indefinitely after guest Steven Dymond died in a suspected suicide shortly after filming — with past episodes also stripped from ITV Hub while an investigation takes place.
The incident has raised concerns over the show’s treatment of guests after the cameras have stopped, with a number of ex crew members and guests criticising the show since.
Calum Lucas, 22, who appeared on the show in December last year after filming in July, however, believes it has been unfairly targeted following the incident — explaining how his experience was entirely different from recent reports.
‘I couldn’t fault it,’ Calum said about the show’s aftercare. ‘For a good month or two afterwards they called me every other week to make sure I was alright and to find out how everything was going.
‘They always said to me, “If you need our help again or if you just want to catch-up or let us know how things are going, feel free to call us. We’re always here.”’
Calum appeared on the show to meet his half-brother, Kane, for the very first time. He was adopted at 18 months old before Kane was born to the same mother, with the pair reconnecting on Facebook before they met on air.
After phoning the show and taking a psychological questionnaire, Calum was filming on set within days, but crew members were eager to ask about his wellbeing.
‘I was really nervous. It was a massive thing for me,’ Calum said. ‘Not only was I meeting my half brother but I’m also a drag queen so it was whether he’d accept that.
‘It was honestly fantastic. We got on the show and they were very, “Are you sure you’re okay? You still want to go ahead with this? Is this something you still want to do?” Even on the day of filming.’
ITV also gave him and his partner £45 towards lunch after meeting his half-brother, and called them to check up on them when they returned home from their paid taxi from Manchester to home city Leicester.
Speaking about Steven Dymond’s death, Calum added: ‘While it’s an extremely sad case, it’s once case in however many cases there have been in 15 years where that’s happened.
‘There’s been so many other negative cases, granted, but there’s been so many positive ones that I feel are are being overshadowed and brushed over because of the fact this has happened.’
After meeting his half-brother, the show also served as a springboard to meet his birth mother weeks after filming on the show ended.
‘Two or three weeks later after we filmed, I actually met my birth mother for the very first time after meeting my half brother as well. He gave me her number and we organised a meet-up.
‘That was off the back of being on the show. If I wasn’t on the show, I don’t know whether I’d actually have done that last year. I’ve had nothing but positives off the back of that show.
‘We’re still in contact now, we still chat. We’ve seen each other a couple of times.’
Host Jeremy Kyle has also faced a large portion of the criticism following the incident, whose seemingly arrogant bravado has always been a divisive talking-point.
While Calum acknowledges he may have not seen Jeremy’s full personality due to the nature of his uplifting story, his experience with him off-camera was a positive one.
‘I didn’t see the traits that are people are saying he has,’ Calum said. ‘The arrogance, the condescending, the patronising. Because of the story that it was, I didn’t see all that.
‘We didn’t speak a lot off-camera because he was filming but we spoke for a bit, and that arrogance and that bravado, I believe that is very case dependent. I don’t see it as arrogance really, I see it as passion.
‘The bloke is not a messiah, let’s face it. I think he’s one of the best people to do that show because he’s been through his gambling addiction, his divorce. I think he’s a good advocate for the show because he’s been there and done that.
‘I think that’s why he gets so angry and so passionate because I get the feeling he just doesn’t want people to fail in the way he may have felt he had at the time. That was genuinely the feeling I got. He’s not like that off-camera at all.’
The ITV show has since issued a statement detailing the aftercare process for guests, which includes counselling, anger management and family mediation.
The Jeremy Kyle Show has aired on ITV since 2005, with celebrities like Danniella Westbrook also recently praising the programme for making her feel ‘safe and comfortable’.
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