'It's good to have shows like that' - Jeremy Kyle guest from Norwich defends show
PUBLISHED: 13:20 23 May 2019 | UPDATED: 13:36 23 May 2019
A Norwich woman who was due to appear on the Jeremy Kyle Show before it was cancelled said the experience changed her life for the better.
Leanna Barnard, 36, of Pennyroyal, filmed an episode for the controversial ITV show on May 1, in which a DNA test confirmed Chantal Smith, 34, was her sister.
But the episode was never televised after ITV permanently axed the daytime TV programme on May 15 after a guest was discovered dead at his home.
Steve Dymond, 63, from Portsmouth, died on May 9, around a week after reportedly failing a love-cheat lie-detector test on the show.
His death raised questions over the treatment of guests and contestants who appear on reality TV, with watchdog Ofcom to investigate the use of lie detector tests on TV shows in the wake of the furore.
The experience, however, was different for Mrs Barnard, who claimed the show did everything to make her feel comfortable and cared for.
"Everyone who was there worked incredibly hard," she said. "They were constantly checking up on me before the show, I have never been fussed over so much in my life, I felt like royalty."
Mrs Barnard decided to appear on the show to get the DNA test results in order to register her father, Lee Smith, on her birth certificate.
She said she had been trying for more than a year to raise the money to pay for the test, which costs around £500. When she could not raise the funds she decided to go on the show as a last resort.
When news broke of the show being dropped after a 14-year run, Mrs Barnard said it was unfair, adding: "People shouldn't have gone on the show if they couldn't deal with the consequences, it's their choice to go on there.
"I'm not ashamed and I haven't done anything wrong, people shouldn't fear what others think."
Mrs Barnard claimed she and her sister were offered aftercare by the show which they both declined.
On whether she felt the show exploited vulnerable people, she said: "No, not at all.
"One man went on there a week before us because he couldn't get a pair of shoes in his size so Jeremy Kyle bought him a pair.
"I've seen Jeremy Kyle help people, he makes you feel comfortable.
"It's good to have shows like that, being on there made me feel normal, they listened and believed me when most people wouldn't."