Kyle takes on the US

The Peterborough Evening Telegraph - - Television -

FOR some­one who ad­mits to nar­rowly missing out to Osama Bin Laden in a poll for the World’s Most Hated Man, Jeremy Kyle is sur­pris­ingly pleas­ant.

“Ap­par­ently Pol Pot was at five, Hitler at four, Sad­dam Hus­sein at three, and I was two. My agent said to me, “You can’t even win that!” he laughs.

Dis­arm­ingly hon­est from the start, it’s easy to un­der­stand how Kyle’s easy, opin­ion­ated ban­ter – he talks non-stop – and self-dep­re­cat­ing sense of hu­mour have helped him gain ac­cess to more than a mil­lion view­ers’ homes daily with his con­tro­ver­sial talk show.

The 44-year-old pre­sen­ter read­ily ad­mits he is hu­man mar­mite – you ei­ther love him or you hate him – but it’s hard to hate him in the flesh.

“If I wanted to court pop­u­lar­ity, I would say what I thought peo­ple wanted to hear,” he says of his fa­mously crit­i­cal ap­proach to guests on his show.

“What I’ve learned about the Bri­tish pub­lic is that even if they dis­agree with you com­pletely and would spend a life­time dis­agree­ing with you, if they know you’re be­ing hon­est and say­ing what you feel, peo­ple buy into that.”

Hon­esty is a big deal for the for­mer sales­man, who has three chil­dren with his sec­ond wife Carla, and a daugh­ter Hat­tie, from his first mar­riage.

If you’re go­ing to spend your days, as he says, moral­is­ing to the Great Bri­tish pub­lic about their mis­de­meanours, you have to keep your nose clean.

“Ev­ery sin­gle per­son in the pub­lic eye is go­ing to be the cen­tre of press at­ten­tion at some point. If you don’t like it, pack it up and go back and do a nine-to-five and don’t moan and bitch about it. If you’re on tele­vi­sion ev­ery morn­ing be­ing moral­is­tic, the press are go­ing to see if they can make you out to be what­ever – and if you score an own goal, then they have ev­ery right [to re­port it].” Three years ago The Jeremy Kyle Show was con­demned by a judge as be­ing a “hu­man form of bear-bait­ing” af­ter a guest ap­peared in court for head-butting his wife’s lover on air.

To­day, thick-skinned Kyle has moved on from the en­su­ing me­dia cir­cus, which he refers to as a “tsunami of at­ten­tion”, penned a best-sell­ing book I’m Only Be­ing Hon­est, in which he talks openly about his for­mer gam­bling ad­dic­tion and his OCD, and is about to take his brand of talk show to the States.

It’s a gutsy move con­sid­er­ing Amer­ica prac­ti­cally in­vented the talk show and have ex­ported some of their most fa­mous hosts, in­clud­ing Jerry Springer, over here.

But as Kyle re­veals in his new book, You Couldn’t Make It Up, his Amer­i­can Dream has been two years in the mak­ing.

Just be­fore the re­ces­sion took hold, Kyle and his agent flew out to Man­hat­tan to meet pro­duc­ers from a US net­work. Then came the credit crunch and as Kyle ex­plains, “the money to strike new deals dried up”

Back in the UK, Kyle and his team who make the show in Manch­ester were liv­ing in fear of get­ting the boot, as hun­dreds of staff were made re­dun­dant and there was no news from ITV on the UK show’s re­newal.

“I just got my head down, I didn’t hear any­thing, but the vibes weren’t good at the time,” ad­mits Kyle.

Then, bizarrely, it was ITV who sug­gested Kyle have a stab at Amer­ica, and, with the back­ing of Granada USA, Kyle will be jet­ting off to Man­hat­tan next May to do a pro­mo­tional tour be­fore film­ing starts in Au­gust.

Kyle is well aware of the pit­falls – “It’s im­pos­si­ble to crack Amer­ica” – but he’s al­ready had a pos­i­tive re­sponse from some of the lo­cals.

“I was at a meet­ing in Ve­gas the other day and they all sat there and said, ‘They’ll love the em­pa­thy and they’ll love the voice’ and this Amer­i­can lady said, ‘We think it’s classy’,” he says, point­ing out that Amer­i­can talk shows have gone “so far out­side the box” that it’s not un­usual to watch a host in­ter­view a pae­dophile while the po­lice wait at the stu­dio door to ar­rest them.”

The Jeremy Kyle Show is on week­day morn­ings on

ITV1. You Couldn’t Make It Up by Jeremy Kyle is pub­lished by Hod­der & Stoughton, priced £16.99.

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