I only got to see him once a year. Generally during a ‘sick day’, as I curled up under the duvet and wish I hadn’t wolfed down the prawn skewer from the street vendor the night before. Despite the infrequency of our acquaintance, the Jeremy Kyle show is not a piece of modern-day culture that I would choose to Sky Plus. That said, if you were in and it was on it was generally the go-to when the alternatives were yet another programme on Brits wanting to buy a house in Oz or someone cleaning out their attic and attempting to pass the worthless pile of antiquated doo-doo on to the next unsuspecting punter.

It’s a few weeks since Jezza was culled. The show, which had run for over 3,000 episodes and 14 years, is no more, due to the suicide of a man who appeared on the show, Stephen Drummond. Even after the axing, the public’s desire for salacious gossip continued unabated, with the Daily Mail running the story of Drummond’s ex-wife, Dianne Healing, who stated she is ‘celebrating his death’ after claiming she suffered years of physical abuse at his hands.

You cannot defame the dead, yet it seems, despite the outcry over the part played by Kyle and co in this man’s suicide, the press seem incapable of leaving it: instead paying bit part players to continue keeping the story rumbling on in order to sell a few more copies.

I believe Kyle was axed due to snobbery. Love Island, which I have watched, nearly killed me through boredom and is a guilty pleasure of my fellow middle-class citizens, yet there have been two suicides over the short course of the show’s life. Yet still there is no public outcry for it to be axed. Drummond, however, in a programme that has not been aired and never will be, failed a lie detector test and then decided to take his own life, and suddenly everyone is calling for Kyle’s head, which they have had delivered on a P45 on a platter.

Maybe it is about one-upmanship towards the working classes. It smacks of Shannon Mathews, and the abuse the family got (rightly as it turns out) as opposed to the time, resources and coverage afforded to the McCanns.

A similar story emerged in 2012 with Jacintha Saldanha. Working as a nurse at King Edward VII hospital in London, where the Duchess of Cambridge was a patient, she fell foul to a prank call from a couple of Australian DJs who pretended to be the Queen. All she did was transfer the call to the nurse looking after Kate and then, three days later, committed suicide. She was not a big player in the story, and undoubtedly was suffering mental health issues before the incident, yet the DJs were forced to issue a grovelling, tearful apology before falling on their swords and moving onto turntables new.

It seems that when an unfortunate event occurs, no doubt not helped by the input of the media, we long for a scapegoat. Who can we pin the blame on? Did we ban Noel Edmonds from TV after the unfortunate death of a contestant on House Party? Countless others have clearly erred and been at fault, yet due to their popularity with the chattering classes they are not personae non grata.

I confess I am not a Kyle fan. He was good at his job, but I found him rather irksome and often abrasive which, let’s face it, makes for good telly. He would not have condescended strangers in the pub like that, due to the fact that on air he had a crack team of burly security guards ready to take a hit should push come to punch.

So again, I say that maybe it comes down to class, or lack of. If Peston interviewed an MP and gave him a hard time and he subsequently committed suicide, would we be looking for a ban? Hardly likely. Maybe it's time we looked at ourselves and our obsession for gossip and not continue to search for a whipping boy to blame for events that are out of his control.

  • Brett Ellis is a teacher who lives in London Colney