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DNA Paternity Test on Live TV

A DNA paternity test might be more accessible than ever before, but is it appropriate to reveal the results on live TV?

DNA Paternity Tests on TV

We appear to be becoming desensitised to such revelations live on air. Thanks to shows hosted by the likes of Jerry Springer and Jeremy Kyle, we’re used to seeing people’s emotional baggage being aired for our ‘entertainment’. Lie detectors, DNA paternity tests and DNA tests to prove other family relationships are all common modern-day ploys used in the shows.

How Far Is Too Far?

The recent debate over the racist row on the 2007 reality show, Celebrity Big Brother, is perhaps indicative of how emotional damage can be exploited to provide audience titillation and increase viewing figures. But is the use of DNA paternity tests a step too far?

DNA Paternity Tests Live On Air

In September 2002 the morning talk show Trisha, hosted by popular TV presenter Trisha Goddard, was reprimanded by regulators for exposing DNA paternity tests on air. This prompted concern not just because the show, Britain’s Biggest Love Rats, revealed the results of DNA paternity tests but also because it did so straight after children’s programmes at 5pm. As the DNA paternity test results were revealed, the audiences yelled: “Who’s the daddy?”

Insensitive and Inappropriate

Following complaints from the public about the show the programme makers were condemned for revealing the DNA paternity tests in such an inappropriate way and at such an insensitive time. A DNA paternity test should never be taken lightly, the results can have a great emotional impact on adults and children alike. The ITC told the BBC that the programme was ‘confrontational and aggressive’ and pushed the limit of acceptability.

DNA Paternity Test Is Sensitive Issue

A DNA paternity test is a sensitive issue and the idea that a child could find out who their biological father is on TV could be incredibly damaging. The Trisha TV show was inspired by the notorious American show, Jerry Springer, which famously features couples brawling as they discuss relationships, drugs, crime and parenting. Episodes have in the past featured DNA paternity tests being revealed live.

Serious Misjudgement

The TV watchdog, the ITC, said ITV had a lapse of “serious misjudgement” for broadcasting the results of DNA paternity tests live on air at a time when children were likely to be watching. DNA tests were carried out on children as young as four for the show and were delivered to the studio live by motorcycle courier. One mother asked for her son Jack to be tested after having suspicions he had been conceived on the back seat of a car, but it turned out Jack’s dad was actually someone else. 38 people complained that revealing DNA paternity tests on the show and the timing of the programme in the schedules were in poor taste.


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