MINISTER for disabled people Esther McVey has fired a broadside at confrontational TV chat show host Jeremy Kyle after complaints he mocked dyslexia sufferers on air.
The Wirral West MP has written to ITV’s head of television Peter Fincham telling him broadcasters should think “long and hard” about their content.
Her call is in response to a plea from Wirral grandfather David Edwards who asked for her help in seeking a full apology from Kyle for what Mr Edwards branded as "vile" treatment of a dyslexic guest.
Mr Edwards, from Hoylake, was left shocked after watching the daytime TV presenter chastise a guest called Glyn for being unable to remember his children’s birthdays.
He claims Kyle appeared to be mocking the man for his lack of memory and claiming it could not be down to his dyslexia.
However Mr Edwards, 60, said the host should have been better informed about the full details of the condition and that the channel should never have allowed the programme to go on air.
The grandfather-of-three contacted the show's producers, who wrote back saying the incident was due to Kyle not being “fully informed on the subject matter” and that the complaint was being taken “very seriously.”
As a result the episode was pulled from the channel’s repeat schedule.
Mr Edwards said: “I am not a fan of Jeremy Kyle at all and just happened to catch it when I was visiting my daughter but couldn’t believe what I was hearing.
"This man was on the show over the breakdown of his relationship and was being humiliated by Jeremy for not being able to remember his children’s birthdates.
“The guest said it was a consequence of being dyslexic but Jeremy decided he was an expert on the condition because a ‘very good friend’ had it and it was all about reading and writing.
“Glyn was being verbally attacked and mocked all because of Jeremy’s ignorance. I found it disgusting that children could be watching this show and taking what he said to be true – it was totally wrong.”
In her letter to Mr Fincham, Ms McVey said: “Whilst I accept that the style of the show is to a degree ‘confrontational’ I believe that given the time of broadcast - daytime TV - when it can be viewed by a younger audience that efforts need to be made to ensure that Mr Kyle’s style is not seen by vulnerable viewers as the norm, leaving them to believe it is okay to launch verbal attacks on others.
“At a time when the media is in the spotlight I believe it is incumbent on all broadcasters to think long and hard about programme content, ensuring at all times that it will be seen as acceptable to the viewing public.”
She has now written to culture and media minister Ed Vaizey asking for his comments.
Mr Fincham stated that the show had a “duty of care” to participants and that while Kyle’s style of communicating is viewed “positively” by many, he “would like to apologise for any offence caused.”
But Mr Edwards said the response was “inadequate” and that Kyle should apologise himself for “misleading” viewers.
He added: “His utterly misleading comments were broadcast to a large number of viewers and the very least he should do is apologise to those viewers and take the opportunity to point out that some people dyslexia is a debilitating condition.
“I really believe that he needs to undo the harm he created. I am now going to write to the producers again to demand Kyle says sorry on television.”