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Kelly Osbourne: Reality TV led me down dark path - contestants need support

Kelly Osbourne: Reality TV led me down dark path - contestants need support

Published at 1:12pm 16th May 2019. (Updated at 5:43pm 16th May 2019)

Kelly Osbourne has spoken out about reality TV and care for participants, telling Sky News her own experience of overnight fame led her "down a dark path".

The 34-year-old, who spent her formative years on camera as one of the original reality TV stars in MTV's The Osbournes, said that back when the show started almost 20 years ago, there was no awareness of the need for support outside the programme.

It comes after MPs announced an inquiry into the issues surrounding reality TV in the wake of the death of a Jeremy Kyle Show guest, and also the deaths of former Love Island contestants Sophie Gradon and Mike Thalassitis.

The Jeremy Kyle Show was taken off air on Monday, and ITV announced on Wednesday that it would not be returning.

Osbourne, who is in London ahead of hosting the 2019 British LGBT Awards, said: "[I was] never a huge fan of the Jeremy Kyle Show, if I'm honest. I've always found it to exploit people in a not so great way.

"I'm trying to use my words wisely… you take people who've probably never even stayed in a hotel and never been to London before and you put them in a hotel and you stick them on camera and you exploit them for their mental illness and their problems.

"And, you know, where's the follow-through, where's the aftercare, who's making sure that these people who you've just exposed are taken care of afterwards? You know, in shows like this it's so important to have that and if you don't have that look at what happens."

Osbourne said she wanted to clarify that "by no means do I think that anybody on the Jeremy Kyle Show planned something like this to happen... However, having said that I do find the show to exploit people in a negative way... and this is what happens when you don't have aftercare."

Osbourne, who has had success as a singer, TV presenter and fashion designer since first finding fame with her family in reality TV, said the pressure can be huge.

The Osbournes, which aired from 2002-05, followed the family - Kelly's parents Ozzy and Sharon as well as her brother Jack - and their unique everyday lives.

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"I know from my own experience," she said. "Going from no one knowing who I was one night, the show being aired, and then everybody in the world knowing who I was and suddenly being one of the most famous 16-year-olds in the world and not understanding why; everybody wanting something from you and everybody having an opinion on you.

"It's all fine when people you know have an opinion of you but when the world has an opinion that you can't control and it's not really who you are it can really mess with you. I know that it led me down a dark path and I'm lucky because I have family and friends and support, and access to therapy and whatever I need.

"If I needed to go to rehab I could do that and not everybody has that. So it is the responsibility of the people who make these TV shows; if you are taking people without that kind of support system you have to provide that."

The star said filming the Osbournes was different as it came during a time where producers "didn't even know that you needed" outside support.

"Now when you do shows like... I am under the impression that a lot of these networks have therapists on hand but I'm talking about aftercare. That needs to be there afterwards and there needs to be some sort of back-up plan - if people are feeling that they are not in a good place that they can still be provided with that."

Osbourne said she was a fan of Love Island and that she had become "invested" in past series.

However, she added: "It's nuts how it's taken off but you know the entire country watches these people who probably only knew about 100 people before that.

"We live in a world where it's so judgemental and especially in England there's still so... they shy away from mental health issues because people think that if you go to therapy that you're crazy. I'm of the belief that if you don't go to therapy you're crazy. That's what it's there for.

"Everybody needs somebody to talk to and get things off their chest and it's sad that people will let what somebody they don't even know says about them destroy them. I did for a long time."

Osbourne also told Sky News she was "disgusted" by the new bill to outlaw abortion in Alabama, which was passed by the state's Republican-controlled and male-dominated senate earlier this week.

"It's disgusting," she said. "How 25 men can have an opinion on what a woman does with her body is disgusting. It's disgusting. It's so antiquated it blows my mind and I raise the question of, what will those men do when they get their mistresses pregnant?"

She added: "It doesn't make sense to me. It's mind-blowing."

Speaking about the British LGBT Awards, Osbourne said she was proud and excited to be hosting an event "highlighting people making change for good".

Asked whether sexuality matters when it comes to participating in awards such as these, she gave a firm "no".

Debate on the issue has grown in recent years, with the choice of Ariana Grande to headline this summer's Pride festival in Manchester facing a backlash when it was announced.

Grande responded saying there was enough "room" for "straight allies" to support LGBTQ events.

"No matter what you do there's always going to be somebody that's got a problem with it," Osbourne said. "For me, if you're spreading the message of love and equality everybody has a right to be there."

Kelly Osbourne hosts the 2019 British LGBT Awards, which celebrates LGBT+ celebrities, activists and allies, on Friday.

Nominees include Sex And The City actress-turned-political campaigner Cynthia Nixon and The X Files star Gillian Anderson, who have both been shortlisted for the LGBT+ celebrity of the year award.

Little Mix, Ellie Goulding and Naomi Campbell are all shortlisted for the ally of the year prize, while stars including Stephen Fry, Rylan Clark-Neal and Paul O'Grady are also nominated for gongs.

:: Anyone feeling emotionally distressed or suicidal can call Samaritans for help on 116 123 or email jo@samaritans.org in the UK. In the US, call the Samaritans branch in your area or 1 (800) 273-TALK

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