The Jeremy Kyle Show producers treated guests like criminal suspects, the MP leading an inquiry into reality TV has claimed.
The House of Commons culture select committee heard from two of the show’s former guests on Wednesday.
Dwayne Davison, who first appeared in 2014, told MPs he was locked in a small room and had his phone taken off him.
“I think someone in police custody would have more rights and better treatment,” Damian Collins MP said.
The committee is investigating whether enough support is offered during and after filming on reality TV. The inquiry was set up after the death of a man who had taken a lie detector test on The Jeremy Kyle Show, and the suicides of two former Love Island contestants.
Mr Davison, who became known as Kyle’s “most-hated guest”, told the committee he was exploited by the show, and that it “ruined my life”, receiving death threats and losing two jobs as a result.
His requests to have clips of his appearance taken off the show’s YouTube channel were repeatedly turned down,
“I asked them multiple times, cried, they weren’t interested one bit.”
Mr Davison said he even attempted suicide at one point: “In 2018, I took 30 codeine tablets, swallowed them all, I don’t remember what happened.”
“If I knew what my life would have turned into I would never have gone on that show,” he added.
He said the only thing he would class as “aftercare” was a “one-minute phone call”. He said he was given his taxi fare home and kicked out 20 minutes after the recording and “that was it”.
Before the recording, he was kept in a locked room, he said. “The smallest, tiniest room you’ve ever seen. Your phone is taken off you. I’m sat in this room for 10 hours, the door’s locked. My partner has been taken away from me. So you’re anxious.”
Mr Collins, who chairs the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) select committee, said that sounded “astonishing” and “horrific”.
Mr Davison appeared on the show a second time, in 2015, but only because a “charismatic” producer persuaded him he could “redeem” himself, he said.
“I came onto the stage and it was like a war zone,” he said, adding that the host was goading him, but those parts were not shown. “They completely edited that out and only showed my reaction. How unfair is that?”
Another former Kyle guest, Robert Gregory, who was contacted by the programme after a man told producers he wanted to prove he was his father, said he had been “totally humiliated”.
“They crucified me. They absolutely ripped me apart,” he told the committee. “I said, ‘You’ve obviously decided I am a bad person.'” He added: “There is no aftercare, it doesn’t exist.”
The Jeremy Kyle Show was cancelled by ITV in May after the death of Steve Dymond, who took a lie detector test during an appearance.
After the hearing, an ITV statement said: “As a producer and broadcaster ITV takes its responsibilities around duty of care to participants very seriously. Supporting the physical and mental health of everyone involved in our programmes is our highest priority.
It added: “We were truly sorry to hear that Dwayne was experiencing mental health problems and suicidal thoughts and have apologised to him that we did not remove the clips from our official ITV YouTube channel. We have offered to pay for counselling, as he has requested.”
Earlier on Wednesday, former Love Island stars Yewande Biala and Marcel Somerville gave evidence about their experiences on that show.
Both told the committee they were given psychiatric evaluations by ITV before they appeared on the show and saw doctors in the days and weeks after the series ended.
“The whole time on the show is fine, when you come off it’s fine, but because you are in the spotlight, no matter what you do, there will be a story about it,” Somerville said.
“The press will jump on to anything. If you have a public break-up, you think, this is the worst period ever and then you get trolls who add fire to it – that was the worst part of being on the show.
“They do a psych (evaluation) before you go on and when the show is finished you do another psych, and then again a week later. But it should be one three or six months down the line because that’s when you’re dealing with it.”
In its statement, ITV said it “constantly strives for best practice in all our programmes”, pointing out that last year it asked former chief medical officer Dr Paul Litchfield to carry out an independent review of the processes on Love Island.
“This review led us to extend our support processes for this year’s series to a level that we consider industry-leading,” it said.
Former Blazin’ Squad member Somerville also revealed he refused to go on the show the first year he was asked because he had concerns about the diversity of the line-up.
“I spoke to the casting producers, done a medical, but they wanted me to go on for the last two weeks of the show,” he said. “I basically said I wasn’t too sure if I wanted to go on the show at that time because the show didn’t look very diverse.
“I didn’t want to be the first black person to be on the show as a bombshell because you’ve go to go in there and try and steal someone’s girlfriend.”