Jeremy Kyle researchers ‘smoked cannabis with guests’

Jeremy Kyle researchers ‘smoked cannabis with guests, gave them alcohol for ‘medicinal purposes’ and fuelled conflict behind the scenes’, new documentary claims

  • Channel 4 Dispatches spoke to former Jeremy Kyle Show guests and staff
  • One ex-producer said drug users were encouraged to visit dealers pre-show
  • Another said staff would smoke cannabis with guests to ‘keep them happy’
  • Programme told staff taught how to wind up participants when they first start
  • Another producers said alcohol was given to guests for ‘medicinal purposes’
  • ITV strongly denies the claims and says there was no wrong-doing on show 

Researchers working on The Jeremy Kyle Show have been accused of smoking cannabis with guests and giving them alcohol for ‘medicinal purposes’ in a bombshell documentary.

The production team also allegedly fuelled conflict between participants using a process called ‘Talking Up’ which was taught to all new members of staff when they joined.

And two more former guests have come forward to claim their treatment on the programme on and off-screen left them wanting to take their own lives, with the show’s ‘most hated’ participant Dwayne Davison claiming he was locked in a room away from his partner for 10 hours before they were put on stage.

The claims are made on a Channel 4 Dispatches programme called Jeremy Kyle: TV on Trial that airs tonight. 

ITV denied all allegations of drug taking and said alcohol was banned in the studio and only ever given out in rare exceptions to people who are going to rehab and are experiencing withdrawal symptoms. 

The broadcaster also stated it had never suggested to guests that the lie detector test is ‘100 per cent accurate’. 

A new Channel 4 Dispatches programme has levelled a range of allegations against staff on the recently-axed Jeremy Kyle Show, pictured, including that producers ‘encouraged drug users to visit their dealers pre-show and smoked cannabis with them in their hotels’


Dispatches also spoke to producers who claimed guests were given alcohol for medicinal purposes and staff were taught how to ‘Talk up’ participants by establishing a rapport with them and then using the connection to ‘wind them up’ before they went on stage. Pictured is Mr Kyle on the show, left, and at his £3million Windsor home, right 

Guest Dwayne Davison, 24, pictured with partner Barbara Wane, 41, told the programme he was locked in a room for 10 hours when he went on the show

The Dispatches episode comes after the death of Steven Dymond, 63, earlier this month just days after he appeared on the show and failed a lie detector test following claims of infidelity against his fiancee. 

It also featured experts giving a damning verdict on the test – which has been linked to the suspected suicide of Mr Dymond – with one professor claiming they are only 70 per cent accurate even when operated by an experienced hand. 

ITV then axed the show, saying it was the ‘right time for it to end’ but said it would not rule out working with Mr Kyle in the future. 

MPs have since launched a probe into reality television in the UK following the deaths of Mr Dymond and former Love Island contestants Sophie Gradon, 32, and Mike Thalassitis, 26, in the past year. 

In the programme, Morland Sanders speaks to anonymous producers who worked on the show at different times throughout its 14-year run.

One who worked on the show in its first five years on ITV told him guests with drug problems were sometimes ‘encouraged to take a detour to visit their dealer en route to the studios’ – in taxis paid for by the production.

Another anonymous former producer who worked on the show recently said: ‘Researchers and APs and sometimes producers would smoke weed with guests in the hotels the day before to keep them happy. 

‘If guests were becoming flakey they’d appease them in any way they could.

‘There was a contributor who was a drug addict and had since stopped taking drugs and cleaned their act up. 

The show was axed following the death of Steve Dymond, 63, left, who was found dead days after appearing on a recording where he failed a lie detector test over allegations of infidelity against partner Jane Callaghan, right. The Channel 4 programme 

‘But in actual fact the show wanted them to be on drugs, because there was no ‘story’ without it. 

‘One of the producers was asked “get that person to take drugs again” and at one point was asked “leave money lying around on a table so they will take that money and go and buy drugs with it”.’

Another producer who was hired to make a behind-the-scenes documentary in 2012 said he saw alcohol being given to guests backstage.

He told the programme: ‘I would see cans of, lager mainly, going backwards and forwards, either being passed between researchers and heading to the dressing rooms or coming through on trays and I asked who it was going to and they said it was going to the contributors who were appearing on the show. 

‘And I asked why… because I’d never seen alcohol being distributed in this manner on a TV production. 

Timeline of The Jeremy Kyle Show’s downfall 

May 2: Steven Dymond fails a lie detector test when appearing on The Jeremy Kyle Show

May 9: Mr Dymond’s body is found at his flat in Portsmouth, and paramedics later say he has been dead for days

May 13: ITV pulls The Jeremy Kyle Show from its schedule and says it has been suspended indefinitely

May 14: Pressure mounts on ITV from MPs to cancel the show

May 15: ITV’s chief executive says the show has been axed for good

‘And I was told that the alcohol was for medicinal purposes, that some of the contributors were alcoholics and that the show was allowed to give alcoholics medicinal alcohol in order to keep them topped up.’

The programme also claims staff were taught how to establish a rapport with guests and ‘wind them up’ from the beginning of the show in 2005.

A producer told the show: ‘All the new staff that were on the show got taken to a big meeting, and we were taught, about this process that they used on the show called ‘Talking Up’ which I’d not come across before, essentially because the show is about conflict resolution, you need the people that come on the show to be in conflict when you get on… when they’re on the show.

‘So, it was about developing a rapport with somebody, and then using that rapport to wind them up.

‘Before I watched… before I started on the show, when I was just watching it as a viewer, you kind of assume that the people who act like that on the show are just normally like that, and they must just be like that in their normal life, and I think working on the show you sort of realise that … they’ve been produced to be that way.’ 

Another producers told Dispatches that the guests were confused by the set: 

The source said: ‘The guests were treated like cattle. Behind the scenes they created a kind of maze. …It’s so if the guests run off the stage it’s a controlled environment. The cameraman knows where to go. 

‘The guest won’t be able to find their way out because it all looks the same.’ 

Mr Sanders also spoke to two former guests who said they tried to take their own lives after filming episodes. 

Stacey Talley, who appeared on the show last May, said she and her partner, Les, wanted to go on to take a lie detector test after allegations of infidelity. 

Mr Davison, pictured on the show, told Dispatches the producers were ‘trying to get him in a position where he was very tense’

She said the producers told her they would receive ‘couples counselling’ after the show but that when they arrived at the studio they wanted to back out and were told they couldn’t.

Ms Talley added: ‘I even said that like obviously I’ve had problems before with my depression and I’ve tried to take my life before, they already knew that. So they knew I was vulnerable before I even went there. 

‘I was like “I can’t do this, my anxiety’s so bad. Like just tell Les that I don’t want to do it, I’m sorry, I can’t do it.”

‘And they was like… well basically as soon as you sign that contract, that is it, the control is out of your hands then. You’re screwed, you’re going on that show.’

The pair also allege they were sent home without any aftercare despite Ms Talley indicating she was possibly suicidal – and she went on to take an overdose in the taxi home. 

Jeremy Kyle Show is a ‘theatre of cruelty’ 

The Jeremy Kyle Show has been branded a ‘theatre of cruelty’ following the apparent suicide of a man who appeared on the programme.

Experts have also urged ITV to drop the programme following the death and compared it to Romans setting lions on Christian martyrs.

ITV pulled the confrontational talk show indefinitely following the death of a guest, named as Steve Dymond, a week after the programme was filmed.

Professor Sir Simon Wessely, former president of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, said the show should be dropped and Jeremy Kyle’s ‘help’ stretches the meaning of the word to the limit.

He said powerful emotions of shame and guilt can lead to a breakdown and these psychological forces are amplified by the show’s large audience.

There have been calls for a review into the impact of reality TV on the mental health of vulnerable people and concerns have been raised over the damage caused by public ‘shaming’.

Professor Sir Simon said: ‘I think it should be dropped, actually. It’s the theatre of cruelty. And yes, it might entertain a million people a day, but then again so did Christians versus lions.

‘Of course, the show will not be the only factor implicated. But like all social media, this show is an amplifying force, multiplier.

‘Shame/guilt is a very powerful emotion and we know that it can precipitate a ‘breakdown’ to use the vernacular, just as with a family context or in a tight social group such as an army unit. So it’s not difficult to imagine that this is multiplied when the audience is a million.’ 

She said: ‘I get put back in my room, I’m in there for about an hour, they come in, ask me if I’m okay, and I was like, “I just want to go home now.” I went, “Let me just go home”.

‘And then they was like, “We’ll ring you”. I was like, “There’s no point, I’m not gonna be here after today”.

‘And then they went to go and talk to this other lady, I think she was, like, the aftercare team manager person, and then they was like, “Oh, okay then, yeah, you can just go home”.’

Speaking about the taxi ride home, Ms Talley added: ‘I took an overdose… I got home, like, kind of, was going unconscious a little bit, and my mum rang an ambulance and I had to stay in hospital for three days.’

Meanwhile Dwayne Davison, 27, who appeared on the show in 2014 and 2015, told Dispatches he was locked in a separate room from his partner all day.

He said: ‘I was in the room for ten hours, there’s no television. You’re not allowed your phone, they take your phone off you at the start… they’re trying to get you in a position where you’re very tense.’

Mr Davison added his appearances led to him attempting to take his own life after he was dubbed the ‘most hated guest ever’.

Dispatches also quizzed Prof Ray Bull, who works in the criminal investigation department at the University of Derby, on lie detectors following the allegations the results of Mr Dymond’s were linked to his death.

Prof Bull said: ‘The lie detector test … should never be used to say whether somebody is actually telling the truth or not, it’s just an indication. 

‘It should never be used to say whether somebody is actually telling the truth or not, it’s just an indication.

‘When a polygraph test is done well by a person who’s had two or three years training, got a relevant Bachelors degree, the accuracy on average can be around 70 per cent.’

He added:’A polygraph measures the bodily reaction to emotion and stress. The dilemma is when people go onto various kinds of TV shows which involve a lot of emotion and family and behaviour and relationships that they’re already quite tense before the testing would take place. 

‘They’re fearful, frightened, worried, knowing that several million people might see the outcome of the test whether it be valid or not.’

ITV strongly denied any wrongdoing and a spokesperson said: ‘ITV has many years of experience broadcasting and creating programmes featuring members of the public, and each of our productions has duty of care measures in place for contributors. 

When cancelling The Jeremy Kyle Show, ITV chief executive Carolyn McCall, pictured, said it was the ‘right time’ to end. ITV have since denied all the allegations made in the Dispatches episode and said no wrong-doing took place, although it added alcohol was given to some guests going to rehab if they were suffering withdrawal symptoms

‘All of our processes are regularly reviewed to ensure that they are fit for purpose in an ever-changing landscape.

‘In the case of the Jeremy Kyle Show, the programme had significant and detailed duty of care processes in place for contributors built up over 14 years, and there have been numerous positive outcomes from this series, where people have resolved long-standing personal problems. 

‘Guests were supported by our guest welfare team prior to filming, throughout filming and after filming. Should they require ongoing help then appropriate solutions were found for them. 

How the lie detector tests on the show work 

Lie detector tests form a regular part of The Jeremy Kyle Show, and are run by polygraph examiners Guy Heseltine and Tristam Burgess from Manchester-based UK Lie Tests.

The polygraph works by tracing changes in a person’s physiological conditioning

The test involves a qualified examiner who is a member of the British Polygraph Association asking pre-agreed questions to the person taking the test.

The polygraph works by tracing changes in a person’s physiological conditioning during questioning, which is done by attaching various components to the subject.

These include two rubber pneumograph tubes placed around the subject’s upper chest and abdomen to measure breathing and movement.

The examiners also measure galvanic skin response (GSR) by placing two finger plates or adhesive pads across the subject’s hand or fingers, which trace changes in sweating during the examination.

They also measure heart rate with a cardiosphygmograph which traces changes in the subject’s relative blood pressure and pulse.

The tests normally take about two hours, and involve a pre-test interview, the collection of charts and then the analysis of these charts.

UK Lie Tests claims no test process can be guaranteed 100 per cent certain, but all its examiners have had anti-countermeasure instruction to try to avoid cheating.

Fees for a lie detector test at one of its offices in Britain start at £400.

The company’s founding examiner Bruce Burgess has also appeared on TV shows including Trisha, Loose Women and This Morning.

Police and government agencies in Britain have been generally slow to adopt lie detector technology compared to other countries such as Canada, the US and Belgium.

While the technology is now used by police in the likes of London, South Yorkshire and Hertfordshire and the Home Office primarily for sex offence cases, it is implemented by internal staff after being trained as examiners.

‘This could include residential rehabilitation, counselling, anger management, family mediation, child access mediation or couples counselling.’

Regarding the allegations that drug users were encouraged to visit their dealers and that producers would smoke cannabis with participants, the spokesperson said: ‘This is untrue. ITV would never condone Illegal drug taking.’

On the alcohol allegations, the spokesperson added: ‘Alcohol is banned in the studio. The only exception is in relation to a small number of guests who are going on to a residential rehabilitation programme after their appearance on the show. 

‘In these cases, an appropriate level of alcohol is dispensed by staff professionally qualified in alcohol misuse, purely in order to prevent alcohol withdrawal symptoms. 

‘All guests, including alcohol dependent ones, are monitored throughout their time in the studio.’

With regard to the description of the backstage area as a ‘maze’ ITV said: ‘There is a purpose-built backstage area within the set but this is not a maze. It is one corridor that runs the length of the studio.’

In relation to Stacey Talley an ITV spokesperson said: ‘Our records show that relationship counselling was offered to both Stacey and her partner but that as he refused to attend, it could not be provided. 

‘Both Stacey and her partner were aware that the relationship counselling service would continue to be on offer, should he change his mind. 

‘All guests are contacted within 24 hours of a recording so we were aware of Stacey’s suicide attempt and organised some counselling sessions for her.’

With regard to the taxi claim, an ITV spokesperson said: ‘This is untrue. The production team would never encourage this, and Taxis are organised and instructed to return each guest to their home address. 

On Mr Davidson’s allegations, the ITV spokesperson said: ‘No one is ever locked in a dressing room and no guest has been in a dressing room for 10 hours. Guests are brought to the studio approximately three hours before a recording. 

‘If Dwayne had told the production team about his mental health problems after appearing twice on the programme, steps would have been taken to remove clips from our YouTube channel and to not repeat the programmes.’

Responding to production team behaviour, ITV added: ‘ITV denies any suggestion from an unnamed former producer of the show, that the production team developed a rapport with guests to ‘wind them up’ and manipulate them into saying things in public they would not otherwise say. 

‘The rapport developed between production team and guests is genuinely to support them before, during and after the show.’ 

On the comments about the lie detector test, ITV stated: ‘The production team never suggest to guests that the test is 100 per cent accurate.’

Jeremy Kyle: TV on Trial airs tonight at 8pm. 

  • If you have been affected by any of the issues raised in this article then you can call the Samaritans on 116 123, alternatively you can visit the website by clicking here.     

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