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Vanessa, Trisha, Jeremy and Norwich: the place the controversial chat show was born

PUBLISHED: 08:32 16 May 2019 | UPDATED: 08:32 16 May 2019

Videograb of broadcaster Vanessa Feltz speaking on her show. Picture PA.

Videograb of broadcaster Vanessa Feltz speaking on her show. Picture PA.

Norwich and controversial talk shows were a marriage made in ratings heaven from 1994 until 2005 with Vanessa, Trisha and Jeremy all presenting from the city - we look back at a slice of chat show history.

Trisha Goddard hosts her  talk show series Trisha, for the first time on ITV. Photo: ITVTrisha Goddard hosts her talk show series Trisha, for the first time on ITV. Photo: ITV

The threads that link presenters Vanessa Feltz, Trisha Goddard and Jeremy Kyle weave together a story based in Norwich and laced with controversy.

Norwich was the base for all three presenters at one time and the trio all attracted large audiences and fairly outspoken criticism: Vanessa's show was criticised by an industry regulator for "sensationalism", Trisha was accused of parading unwelcome topics to a young audience and Jeremy…well…we know all about Jeremy.

Vanessa Feltz joined Anglia Television as a talk-show presenter in 1994, aged 32, hosting what began as an afternoon talk show produced in Norwich by Anglia and US experts Multimedia in the first transatlantic deal of its kind.

She promised a diet of love and laughter, tragedy and tears, "with as much sex and food as we can manage." The show first aired on May 13 1994.

The Jeremy Kyle Show (C) ITVThe Jeremy Kyle Show (C) ITV

In March 1996, Vanessa narrowly escaped a rap from a broadcasting watchdog after the industry regulator ruled it was guilty of "sensationalism".

A show, featuring people boasting about serial infidelity, promiscuity and other sexual proclivities, was criticised last month by the Independent Television Commission which upheld eight complaints from viewers.

But the ITC later ruled that the Anglia show had provided balance and was unlikely to be seen by children - the judgement came a day after the Anglia-produced show declared record viewing figures of 3.2 million.

Vanessa departed from her Anglia TV show in 1998: the thrice-weekly studio discussion show had moved to a daytime slot to go head-to-head with Kilroy, the BBC's version of the same format.

As the show grew in popularity, Ms Feltz asked that she should no longer have to record her programmes in Anglia's home town of Norwich ("a request that any fair-minded person should be able to understand," said The Independent newspaper, cattily.

Vanessa's primetime slot was offered to Trisha Goddard, who knew Norfolk well, having spent some of her childhood in the county at school in Heacham.

Born in London, Trisha briefly worked as an air stewardess before emigrating to Australia with her first husband, Robert.

As her TV career took off with her becoming Australia's first black news anchor woman, Trisha married a second time and had two children: a call from Anglia TV bought her back to the UK.

Married to third husband Peter, Trisha lived close to Norwich with her family - the couple have since divorced.

On February 4 2004, new audience figures revealed that Trisha's daytime chat show, produced at Anglia Television's studios in Norwich, had benefitted from the demise of her BBC rival Kilroy's show.

Despite rumours that the presenter was in demand elsewhere, Anglia was quick to say that, with a home and family in Norfolk, she remained committed to the show.

But the show wasn't without its critics: Susan Stranks, a former presenter of ITV's Magpie and BBC veteran Johnny Ball, said that broadcasters could not ignore the impact that shows like Trisha had on younger viewers.

"Programmes like Trisha happily parade a series of challenged, distressed and damaged adults. They revel in language and behavior that is totally unsuitable for children. Worse still, they leave children with the impression the only way to be noticed is to be bad or sad."

By the end of 2004, it was announced that Trisha would be moving to Channel Five after six years at ITV, ending months of speculation about her future at Anglia.

Trisha remained living in Norfolk while she filmed for Channel Five, although her production company made no bones about the fact that its "desired" studio location would be in Norwich rather than London.

Malcolm Allsop, who co-owned Town House Productions with Trisha, which made the Channel Five series, said: "We would really love to make the show in Norwich but the circumstances have not been right yet to make it happen."

Production for the Five show- which was aired until 2009 - was, however, carried out in Norwich and involved up to 50 employees.

In 2005, there was a new face in Norwich: Jeremy Kyle. Episodes of the show were filmed in Epic Studios although the show's base was at Granada in Manchester after pilot shows.

The presenter returned to Norwich in 2016 to film an episode of The Kyle Files, a documentary-style programme which explored a different issue each week.

In Dangers of a Night Out, Kyle explored drinking culture and the dangers revellers face on a night out in Britain, using Norwich as a case study.

He said, at the time: "I've got some good friends in Norwich and I've always been amazed by just how nice and gentle and beautiful the city is.

"But it's fair to say that Saturday night down the Prince of Wales Road was my first, probably my last, too. Some of what I saw down there was unbelievable!"

In an interview in EDP Norfolk Magazine in 2009, Kyle told a reporter: "If people are emotionally and psychologically not able to cope, then they're not allowed to come on (the show).

"We hold up a mirror to a part of society, a part of life that people feel uncomfortable with. That's not my problem, is it?

"Morally, I couldn't do the show without the level of aftercare service that Graham (the show's psychotherapist) and his team provide. It wouldn't sit comfortably with me."

His final words were somewhat prophetic: "You do your job until somebody, some day says 'Kyle, it's all over. Goodnight and God Bless."

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