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October 1, 2023updated 06 Nov 2023 10:07am

Jeremy Kyle says ‘world has moved on’ since ITV scandal as he joins Nicola Thorp on TalkTV breakfast

Jeremy Kyle and Nicola Thorp spoke to Press Gazette ahead of the launch of their TalkTV breakfast show.

By Bron Maher

Broadcaster Jeremy Kyle has said that “the world has moved on” from his confrontational ITV daytime talk programme, The Jeremy Kyle Show, as he prepared to launch a breakfast show on TalkTV.

Kyle and his co-host, actor and columnist Nicola Thorp, are set to launch breakfast programme Talk Today on Monday (2 October).

They told Press Gazette the show hopes to set itself apart from the competition by finding “common ground” between the two politically opposed presenters.

Jeremy Kyle and Nicola Thorp: ‘We have nothing to lose’

In terms of traditional television ratings, TalkTV is behind both the established news stations and its direct competitor, GB News – although News UK-owned TalkTV and its on-air talent argue that their digital impressions are a better reflection of their true reach.

Asked whether they have a strategy to boost ratings, Kyle described Talk Today as “a revamp”.

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“I think that Talk [TV] is, in essence, a really, really good product… I’ve always believed that ultimately people will watch, people will listen, if they have something to listen and watch. And that doesn’t happen overnight.”

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Thorp suggested that the “something” people will tune in for will be Talk Today’s on-air dynamic: “People invest in not just the content that we’re sharing on screen, but the people who are on screen, the relationships.”

Thorp and Kyle will front the programme from Monday to Thursday, with hosts for Friday and the weekend yet to be announced.

Thorp continued: “There’s other people who are there as well, the newsreaders and weather [presenters], and the big family that we’ve created behind the scenes, too. I think that will really come across.”

Kyle added that “what we hope to create is a vibe, and a show, that all people across all sectors want to watch”.

The pair emphasised that they reflect two very different strains of opinion. Kyle’s top-rated clips on Youtube include his clashes with union officials, advocates for immigration and climate activists, whereas Thorp’s most recent columns for Metro have critiqued rape culture, domestic abuse and transphobia. Kyle jokingly referred to Thorp as a “loony lefty”.

Thorp said: “What sets us apart is that, I think, some people would never have put us together – people with opposing views, with very different backgrounds, who are able to have discussions.

“I think so much of politics now, so much of the news has become polarised, and people aren’t willing to listen to one another… What we pride ourselves on, really, is a show where we can have those conversations and be honest with each other and be authentic.”

Kyle agreed, saying: “We’re mates.”

“You can have these channels where everybody has the same opinion,” he explained. “You can have the channels where you look at it, and you think: ‘You’re just saying that for a reason.’

“I think the best things that we do together are when you find common ground. It’s about listening to everyone else’s opinion, isn’t it?”

But ultimately, on the matter of trying to bring the show up from low ratings, Kyle concluded: “We have nothing to lose.”

Talk Today will be ‘about reaching the whole of the United Kingdom’

Asked how Kyle and Thorp were paired together as co-hosts in the first place for Talk Today, Thorp said: “There’s a really relatable relationship there… where people disagree on certain topics, but they know that they can be honest with each other and really challenge each other’s opinions and know that at the end of the day, no one’s going to fall out with each other.”

Kyle said: “I genuinely believe that there is massive room for a breakfast show and a station that does look at both sides.

“Instead of being as direct as you are, I’m going to be direct backwards. Instead of telling people what the news is, [we will be] sharing it with them, and wanting to hear what they have to say. 

“And one of the things we did on [his previous TalkTV programme, Jeremy Kyle Live] was really important: we wanted to hear what people think.

“One of my bugbears is people like us four, who seem to think that the London-centric bubble is the world.

“People need to look outside the M25. [Thorp] comes from Blackpool. When I hear people in Knightsbridge saying it’s very tough – I want to hear what people in Rotherham and Bury and Cornwall and Plymouth and Bristol [are saying]. And that’s what this breakfast show will also be about. It’ll be about reaching the whole of the United Kingdom.”

Jeremy Kyle: ‘At the end of the day, the world has moved on’

Kyle has worked for TalkTV and sister station Talkradio since September 2021, during which time his career has moved more towards serious news: at TalkTV, he has made headlines with his interviews with former SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford following his resignation and with the convicted sex offender Ghislaine Maxwell from prison.

TalkTV said Kyle’s drivetime show at Talkradio led to 51% audience growth year-on-year, and that the first six months of his TalkTV programme saw average audience up 153% compared with the previous half.

Before he joined News UK Kyle had been off-air after his ratings-leading daytime programme, The Jeremy Kyle Show ,was cancelled by ITV in September 2019 following the death of a guest. Dymond died of a morphine overdose a week after a failing a lie detector test whilst questioned about an alleged extramarital affair. (The full inquest has yet to be held.)

The Jeremy Kyle Show, which aired for 14 years, was a talk show ITV said was focused on “conflict resolution”, with Kyle on hand as guests attempted to settle interpersonal issues, frequently on themes such as infidelity, paternity or drugs. 

The guests often conflicted: after one guest head butted another on stage in 2007, a Manchester district judge overseeing proceedings called the show “a human form of bear-baiting which goes under the guise of entertainment”, and said its producers should have been in the dock with the attacker.

Kyle himself could get involved in heated confrontations on the programme. Given breakfast television is usually positioned as a reasonably mellow start to the day, Press Gazette asked Kyle whether he was a bit, bluntly, “mean” to appear in the breakfast slot.

“Listen, you’re gonna hark back, aren’t you, to yesteryear,” he responded.

“I’ve been working here at Talk – which has been the most incredible experience – for the last few years. I came back and I worked on drivetime on the radio, and it felt a bit like coming home…

“At the end of the day, the world has moved on.”

Calling Talk Today a “blank canvas”, he encouraged prospective viewers of the new show to “just give it a go and see what you think and you might be pleasantly surprised”.

Press Gazette asked whether he worried the legacy of The Jeremy Kyle Show would impact Talk Today.

“No,” Kyle said. “Why would I?

“The Jeremy Kyle Show, which finished nearly five years ago now – I think we all know what happened when it finished and I think the world has moved on. And I think that’s a good thing, that the world’s moved on.

“But I think also the world has to understand that the world was in a different place then. We started The Jeremy Kyle Show before the advent of social media… As much as the world changes, people change [and] systems change, television changes.”

He said broadcasting was no longer about people sitting down and watching linear television: “I learned that lesson when you look at James Corden in America… a huge success, [but he] was never a massive linear figure in America.

“That was the mothership. All the other things that went from it, like Carpool Karaoke, were online, were digital. And I think we’ve had to embrace the fact that television has changed, really, and I think that’s a good thing, that’s what I say.”

Asked if he had avoided scrutiny of the show by refusing to appear in front of the Parliamentary reality TV inquiry, Kyle declined to answer further questions about The Jeremy Kyle Show.

He said: “That’s not me being difficult. I will always answer. I’m not able to answer that yet, because it’s still a legal ongoing situation,” referring to the inquest into Dymond’s death, which has been repeatedly postponed.

Kyle told Press Gazette that “much has been written and much has been said” about his former show with “most of it by people who have an opinion. But I find it quite interesting that the people that have an opinion don’t want to hear any other side.”

Asked if he wanted to give his side now, Kyle said: “Why are you not asking my opinion on Talk Today?”

He added: “All I would say to people: just give it a go.”

Related Article: Kate McCann moves from TalkTV to become Times Radio political editor

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Select and enter your email address Weekly insight into the big strategic issues affecting the future of the news industry. Essential reading for media leaders every Thursday. Your morning brew of news about the world of news from Press Gazette and elsewhere in the media. Sent at around 10am UK time. Our weekly does of strategic insight about the future of news media aimed at US readers. A fortnightly update from the front-line of news and advertising. Aimed at marketers and those involved in the advertising industry.
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