Graham Higgins Illustration - Literate Graffiti Dept.

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February 2, 2016

Bringing people together in a controlled environment

TV programmes, as we know, are the fillers between the adverts that inform a culture. If you’re at home during the daytime you’ll be sure to need a broad selection of on-line bingo-options to collect and keep on your mobile-phone to play responsibly, and easy access to friendly loans at three-figure interest rates in case you accidentally play irresponsibly; everything you need to make full use of those drab hours when you’re otherwise forced to watch replays of Emmerdale and documentaries about routine police chores involving abusive drunks and drivers who haven’t quite worked out the difference between transport from A to B and Playstation stock-car demolitionathons.
I’m going to mention the name that’s already hovering over this stretch of media tundra. Yes, that name. I feel I ought to issue a caution because the name Jeremy Kyle alone is close to an emetic for many. Duh! Sorry. Yes, that name. Even with a bit of detachment, deliberately picking his show from the channel listings is too close to moral self-harm to be comfortable.
But if you automatically shudder simply because of the hours of scheduling occupied by this tacky, sensational, shallow, sanctimonious, exploitative, hypocritical freak-show, you miss some real insights into a culture that regards those qualities as necessary stepping-stones to T-shirt slogan celebrity.
Study the man. He’ll remind you who he is in case you’ve missed the continuity announcement, the mention from the show’s sponsors – FoxyBingodotcom – and the widescreen shiny MGM logo of the credit title. He wishes us, his friends, a bigbig welcome to the Jeremy Kyle Show, announces his ‘guests’, today on The Jeremy Kyle Show; asks them to tell us why they’re on The Jeremy Kyle Show; advises them to Shut Up! It’s called The Jeremy Kyle Show! And he has a stock gag about ‘are you all right? Well obviously you’re not all right or you wouldn’t be on The Jeremy Kyle Show’
This is always good for a chuckle from the audience, along with well-worn favourites like his reassurance to nervous guests not to worry about them – ‘They should be at work!’.
When any of the guests storm off the stage – just one of the points of Kyle Show etiquette – he, knowing the score, will bustle off after them with his camera and sound technicians to continue his harangue in one of the lounge-areas or backstage corners where custom dictates the guest is to be found sulking until the Kylester delivers another of his off-the-cuff clichés, ‘I don’t know why I ‘ave a bleedin’ set; I spend all my time running around…’ Again, equally spontaneous audience laughter. He calls this bit The Kyle Olympics. The audience shrieks… the man is a comedy legend.
The walk-off is often connected with lie-detector or DNA test results, which are always ‘all-important’ and will be revealed ‘after This Break – You won’t want to miss it!”
You will already have gathered that those parts of the show not occupied by guests discussing their dilemmas at high volume, relieved by moments of post-production modesty-silence and careful blurring of expressive hand-gestures, are already accounted for by a click-and-select menu of Things Kyle Says.
He’s very often so embarrassed by by these low-jinks that he’s obliged to yell in the face of an offender that he won’t have them on The Jeremy Kyle Show (sponsored by Foxybingodotcom) if they come on Effing and Jeffing like that. Here at home on the ancestral sofa, I’m rather impressed that he doesn’t actually say Fucking, but I must confess to a sneaking curiosity regarding the Jeffing. I’ve tried it on occasions, working through a basket of ironing with the show on for company – Aah JEFF! Jeff off, you jeffing jeffer! -but maybe it’s lack of practise; I can’t get it to sound quite as mortally offensive as I’d like.
In fact, his entire spiel could be loaded into your sat-nav and still leave room for maps of Western Europe. “The Thing Is, right, hear me out – look at me – forget what you want for a moment and concentrate on what’s Really Important; be quiet, I’m speaking, it’s called The Jeremy Kyle Show, what you should be doing right now is taking the third exit off the next roundabout!”
You could even have his Court Counsellor, Graham, “The Genius”, to penetrate to the very heart of your perceived problem, Though. extended. use. of. this. plug-in. is. not. advised. for. long. journeys.
One of the frequent promo-montages often used in the show itself has the Monotone Man advising a guest that his problem is ‘You’re using one of the most addictive substances known to man… and that means…’ See, now we’re getting to it; this is the calm voice of authority… “…it’s going to be really difficult to give it up.” This is the quality of support you can expect from The Jeremy Kyle Show.
A certain body of opinion might say that Kyle, this extremely shrewd weasel-faced barely articulate approximation of human form stretched thin over a molten core of self-serving ambition has hit upon a very efficient way to upcycle old rope. This is made possible by the dismal carnival procession of Breughelian grotesques gagging to get a night in a Manchester hotel with en suite mini-bar and that seam of Celebrity bestowed by the achievement of getting on the telly.
I return to my original proposition, that by the principle of unexpected consequences Jeremy Kyle may be the prurient Henry Mayhew de nos jours, offering us brief glimpses of the poverty of language and education, the cultivation of need, that surrounds us wherever we are. More of that all-important evidence after this break… Trust me my friends, you don’t want to miss it!

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