ITV boss Dame Carolyn McCall has said in an email to staff that the decision to take The Jeremy Kyle Show off air is “the best way” to protect it following the death of a guest.
The confrontational talk show was suspended indefinitely by the broadcaster following the death of the participant, named as 63-year-old Steve Dymond, a week after the programme was filmed.
Mr Dymond took a lie-detector test to convince fiancee Jane Callaghan he had not been unfaithful, but they split after he failed, according to The Sun.
An email sent to staff by Dame Carolyn said that it “was a very difficult decision to make” to halt filming and broadcasting of the programme, but that they felt it would be “inappropriate to continue to broadcast the show when a participant on it has so recently died”.
The email said: “This decision is not in any way a reflection on the show, but the best way we think we can protect the show and the production team from the reaction we expect to this death.”
The company-wide message also stated that ITV Studios’ managing director Julian Bellamy would travel to Manchester, where the talk show is filmed, to meet with the production team.
It said that “everyone involved” will be offered support from the Employee Assistance Programme, as well as access to counsellors.
ITV has been urged to end broadcasts of the programme for good following the apparent suicide of Mr Dymond, who died around a week after filming his episode.
The network said staff at the broadcaster and the show’s production team were “shocked and saddened” at the death and that the episode will be reviewed.
Downing Street said TV firms must support participants in their shows.
The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “This is a deeply concerning case.
“Broadcasters and production companies have a responsibility for the mental health and wellbeing of participants and viewers of their programmes.
“We are clear they must have appropriate levels of support in place.”
Damian Collins, chairman of the Commons Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee (DCMS), said TV companies “have a duty to care to the people who take part in their programmes”.
He said the DCMS select committee will discuss “what should be done to review the duty of care support for people appearing in reality TV shows” in its private meeting on Wednesday.
Culture Secretary Jeremy Wright said: “This is a deeply concerning case. Broadcasters and production companies have a responsibility to the mental health and wellbeing of both participants and viewers and must ensure that they have appropriate levels of support in place.”
Ms Callaghan told The Sun that Mr Dymond had been “quietly struggling”, but praised the show’s team for their after-care efforts.
A Hampshire Police spokeswoman said: “I can confirm that we were called at 1.24pm on Thursday 9 May following the discovery of a body of a man in his 60s at an address in Grafton St, Portsmouth.
“The death is not being treated as suspicious and a file is being prepared for the coroner.”
A spokeswoman for Portsmouth coroner’s office said: “HM Coroner has ordered a post-mortem to be carried out and is awaiting the result. An inquest is likely to be opened into the death within the next few days.”
It has also emerged that a warrant for the arrest for Mr Dymond was issued after he failed to attend a court hearing for non-payment of a fine.
He was originally ordered to pay nearly £6,000 in compensation to two finance companies in 1997 at Poole Magistrates’ Court.
And in February, Mr Dymond had been due to attend a hearing at Southampton Magistrates’ Court for the non-payment of a fine of £4,329.
A court spokeswoman confirmed that after he failed to attend the hearing, a warrant was issued for his arrest.
Monday morning’s episode of The Jeremy Kyle Show did not air and ITV has now wiped all episodes of the programme from its on-demand service, the ITV Hub. Episodes will not be shown on ITV2 either.
The broadcaster said the episode featuring the participant who died will be submitted for a review due to the “seriousness of this event”.
Filming and broadcasting of the programme was suspended while the review is being conducted.
An Ofcom spokesman said: “This is clearly a very distressing case. Although we can only assess content that has been broadcast, we are discussing this programme with ITV as a priority to understand what took place.”
The tabloid talk show sees host Kyle and psychotherapist Graham Stanier help the guests talk through their personal issues in front of a studio audience.
The programme has had its regular daytime morning slot on ITV since 2005.
The broadcaster’s support for its reality show talent has also come under scrutiny following the deaths of two former Love Island contestants.