Jeremy Kyle Bites Back

The ITV star, whose infamous daytime programme chews over the challenges of often dysfunctional lives, freely admits an enduring phobia of dentists.

“I had a terrible experience about 15 years ago,” says Kyle. “I was absolutely terrified.”

“A tooth shattered and it started to go down my throat. The guy started to panic and the nurse started to panic, and you just think, jeez!”

But Dr Sina Salimi, a Dental Phobia Certified dentist and owner of the new clinic, provides a service that Kyle finds decidedly more palatable.

“I think it’s quality and I think it’s class and I think it’s value for money,” Kyle tells me. “It’s a good place to come. I can literally, honestly tell you I was terrified of the dentist. Now it’s great.”

To escape the hubbub of the London Street practice’ launch party, we adjourn to an elegantly fitted surgery.

“I live locally, and I work in America, in London, Manchester, but I would always come here or send for him,” says Kyle.

“This man just did everything I wanted doing and I never ever, ever felt any pain.”

“I extol the virtues of him.”

Kyle is relaxed, or as relaxed as one can be in a dental surgery. He has a self-deprecating humour that puts those present at ease.

“Sina said the best quote ever,” Kyle laughs, pointing at the proud dentist, who nips in and out to attend to his guests.

“I’d been under sedation, and he said to me, ‘My god I know why you’re a talk show host! You never stopped frigging well talking even when you were out!’”

It’s a rare opportunity to meet an individual who causes so much contention. I was determined to hear Kyle’s response to his critics.

“I say this in America, and they don’t get it – the show’s Marmite, right? Half the United Kingdom want me to be Prime Minister, the other half would like me to be exterminated. That’s it! You know, there’s really no middle ground!”

“With a television show like that, you stick your head above the parapet, people are either going to love it or hate it. The thing about The Jeremy Kyle Show, and I love this, it’s the middle class’s guilty secret.”

“Somebody once said to me the working classes will watch the Jeremy Kyle Show because that’s absolutely their life, encapsulated in a microcosm. The upper classes love it as well.”

“It is what it is. It’s not the end of the world. It’s a television show.”

Kyle started out his public life on the radio airwaves with his own late night call-in show. 2,000 episodes on, The Jeremy Kyle Show is now into its eighth year.

“We wanted to be slightly different. We wanted aftercare,” says Kyle, comparing his work to similar programmes in the UK and the States that have come under fire.

“It’s a television show, and if you show an hour of counselling, nobody would watch it. But there is a moral responsibility to give a beginning, middle and an end point for the show.

“I don’t know the exact figures, but it was over 300 people last year that The Jeremy Kyle Show put into detox and rehab units. And that for me, as a father of four, is important to me.”

In 2007, when a guest was convicted of an assault committed on set, a Manchester district judge called the show a “human form of bear-baiting.” Kyle dismisses the comments.

“If you honestly believe that you can do something like this on a daily basis and you’re not going to attract criticism, you’d be pretty naïve,” Kyle cautions.

“I mean, you can’t win. Journalists, critics, whatever, will say, ‘So, do you care about these people?’ And you say yes, we provide this aftercare service. And they’ll say, ‘What are you trying to do, change people’s lives?’

“No. What you do is, you give them the tools by which they might change their own lives.”

“It wasn’t until I travelled to America, and I say this very honestly, you realise that people need that outlet. The show is an outlet for many.”

The straight-talking host returns with renewed bite this year with a brand new series.

“I have to be honest, I have to be open, and that’s the way it is,” he says, raising his hands. “I just don’t think it’s rocket science. It’s television.”

Rocket science? No. Pulling teeth? Perhaps.

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