TV - Loose Women vs Mental Health

We don't often write about chat shows on The DreamCage but something happened this week that needs comment. Loose Women vs Mental Health is written about by Alwyn Ash...

For a programme that has highlighted the importance of talking about mental health, and interviewing people who suffer with mental health conditions, ITV show Loose Women stepped over the line a couple of days ago (29th August 2018) after a spat between the presenters and guest Kim Woodburn, a fellow presenter best known for her show How Clean Is Your House?

To understand the story in full, we must go back to January 2017, when Kim entered the UK Big Brother house. From the moment she entered, Kim was confrontational with fellow housemates, argumentative, and at one stage had to be removed by security. In the end, it was singer Coleen Nolan, 51, who won Big Brother, this appeared to upset Kim who began criticising the Nolan star and branded her a "boring fag ash Lil" while adding, "It was wrong that she won. She was not entertaining and I was disappointed. Coleen was running with the foxes and hunting with the hounds. What a shocking woman".

The two stars began throwing insults back and forth, Coleen even referring to Kim as being "fake". She said, "She went in there knowing that being confrontational gets you air time".

During an episode of ITV flagship show This Morning, host Holly Willoughby asked Coleen Nolan via video link if she had anything to say to her ex-housemate, at which the singer replied, "No". However, fellow Loose Women presenter Linda Robson, also known for her role as Tracey Stubbs in the BBC sitcom Birds of a Feather, was heard shouting, "Well no one likes a sore loser, love".

So back to Loose Women 2018, and that interview!

Kim's invitation to the LW studio was certainly a bad decision. According to Coleen's Twitter account it was the producers that arranged the meetup: "For clarity - Coleen did not ask for Kim Woodburn to come on the show nor ask to be reunited with her - @loosewomen organised the show. Coleen has no say in their choice of guests - Coleen stayed as calm as possible whilst being insulted live on air which was incredibly unpleasant". Sadly that didn't prevent the Loose Women panel - consisting of Coleen Nolan and her sister Linda Nolan, Linda Robson, and media personality and journalist Janet Street-Porter - from allowing an argument to escalate live on television. Kim may be difficult, but the presenters must take blame. It was clearly a farce from the start, like a scene from a Jerry Springer episode.

Indeed, there is currently a petition calling for Coleen's removal from the ITV show, and Ofcom (UK's communications regulator) has received over 3,000 complaints to date. An Ofcom spokesperson has said that they are "assessing these complaints against our broadcasting rules, before deciding whether or not to investigate".

The LW panel has been accused of bullying.

While panellist Janet Street-Porter acted as "judge", a possible reconciliation was avoided all too quickly with an exchange of insults. At one stage Coleen even said to 76 year-old Kim, "I didn't tell you how vile you are from day one. That's what I should have done". The How Clean Is Your House? presenter was clearly upset and angry; even as she tried to explain reasons for her own behaviour, the head LW host mocked her. It is no secret that Kim was sexually abused by her father as a child, and often experienced cruelty, a fact she revealed in a much earlier Loose Women episode, in February 2017.

One of the most shocking things to come out of all of this is how a show like Loose Women could permit such a fiasco to happen in the first place. It has always championed mental health and promoted where possible, interviewing and raising awareness. Its ITV webpage gives out useful Mental health information. A quick Google search and there is no shortage of articles and Twitter posts from the team such as, "It's so important for women AND men to talk about our feelings and mental health".

So why then did the programme producers place someone who might have her fair share of mental health issues in a confrontational position with the panel? There is no doubt, in my mind at least, that the show must be held accountable. We already live in a world where online nastiness and trolling is commonplace, greatly affecting people's mental health.

It is certainly not acceptable for a professional team like Loose Women to join in.

Follow Alwyn on Twitter @AlwynAsh

Image - ITV
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