Over the past few weeks, numerous TV broadcasters have come under fire for their failure to provide support to show contestants during and after the show. This has had serious consequences on the mental health of individuals whilst also questioning whether certain industries have the correct HR procedures in place to protect staff and contestants.
The most recent case to hit the headlines is the reality TV show Ex On The Beach. The show’s stars are the latest contestants to slam show producers for the way that they were treated whilst appearing on the show – the BBC reports.
Ex On The Beach star, Jess Impiazzi, told the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire programme that she felt pressurised to ‘hook up with someone’ as soon as she set foot on the show.
She added: “I had a producer say: ‘Lots of shagging tonight please, girls’.
“Why would you be telling me to do that? Is this a porn set? It just made me feel really cheap...these were all random guys."
“We all know what the show is about but I never said I will come on this show and behave in that way". She quickly quit the show.
Despite numerous claims of poor treatment, Whizz Kid Entertainment, the production company behind Ex On The Beach, said that they exemplified a duty of care towards the contestants of the show as this was of “paramount importance”. The production company also said that contestants were fully aware of the nature of the programme before any filming took place.
Whilst show contestants aren’t employees – even though they may be paid for appearing on the show - producers have been accused of encouraging them to engage in uncomfortable activities and have failed to give them the right support during and after the show.
The Jeremy Kyle Show
Sadly, this isn’t the only case to have highlighted some key HR issues. Earlier this month, ITV axed The Jeremy Kyle Show following the death of a guest on the programme and this has since sparked questions about the adequacy of support mechanisms for show contestants.
Subsequently, Damian Collins MP, Chair of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee stated that “there needs to be an independent review of the duty of care TV companies have to participants in reality TV shows.”
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And with Mental Health Awareness Week a top priority for HR this month, the case of The Jeremy Kyle Show shed light on some shocking HR issues such as toxic leadership, hypocritical management and mental health support, all of which are issues in HR’s domain.
The behaviour of senior staff on the show might shock earnest HR practitioners after the public nature of the Me Too campaign - which highlighted unacceptable workplace behaviours, especially those of a sexual nature.
Forcing employees to engage in uncomfortable actions - whether as a member of a reality show or in an office - is compeltely unacceptable.
However, the Ex On The Beach case does highlight just how many industries don't appear to have proper HR support for workers.
This is something that Coronation Street actor Nicola Thorp found out when she was asked to get naked for a coffee advert she was filming.
The soap actor added that, at the time, the pervasive industry attitude was that if she didn’t, then another girl would come along who would acquiesce to these, clearly exploitative, stipulations.
Thorp also revealed she did not just experience sexist behaviour in the acting industry.
“I’ve also experienced sexual harassment and discrimination as a receptionist and as a waitress,” she told BBC’s The Emma Barnett Show last year. “There wasn’t necessarily an HR department I could go to.”