1 9 9 2 – Current (USA)
A former mayor of Cincinnati, Jerry Springer became the host of one of television’s most controversial daytime talk shows in the early 90s.
The debut episode in 1992 was sober and restrained and discussed news stories in the style of the venerable Phil Donahue. Unimpressive ratings forced Springer and his team to rethink their approach, and a spectacle was born.
The Jerry Springer Show made staple ingredients of the most controversial elements of the talk show format: family disputes, infidelity, extreme behaviour and fighting.
The programme became well known for its often violent physical confrontations and outbursts of emotion that occurred among guests on the show.
The frequency of such punch-ups prompted the introduction of on-screen security guards – notably Steve Wilkos (pictured above in full flight) and Jason Brandstetter – to keep warring guests apart.
When fights broke out, or when the host made a wisecrack or pithy observation, the audience would break into chants of “Jerr-y! Jerr-y!” or “Go Jerry! Go Jerry!”.
Many critics and viewers found the show upsetting because of the “low life” problems on which it focussed. Some of the seamier subjects featured on the show in just two months in 1995 were ‘mate swapping’, ‘strip club denizens’ and ‘pinups and prostitutes’.
The new format turned The Jerry Springer Show into a hugely successful global brand.