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Paternity Testing Live On TV: Britain’s Biggest Love Rats


Perhaps as a TV audience we are becoming desensitized to revelations live on air. From Jerry Springer to Jeremy Kyle, we’re used to seeing people’s emotional damage being aired for our ‘entertainment’. Lie detectors, the DNA paternity test and DNA tests to prove other family relationships are all common ploys used in the shows.

How Far is Too Far?
The recent furore over the racist row on the 2007 reality show, Celebrity Big Brother, is perhaps indicative of how emotional damage can be exploited for audience titillation and viewing figures. But is using a DNA paternity test a step too far?

DNA Paternity Test Live on Air
Back in September 2002, the morning talk show Trisha, hosted by daytime TV presenter Trisha Goddard, was reprimanded by regulators for exposing DNA test results on air. It wasn’t just the fact that the show, Britain’s Biggest Love Rats, revealed the results of a test but the fact they did so straight after children’s programmes at 5pm. As the DNA paternity test results were revealed, the audiences yelled: “Who’s the daddy?”

Inappropriate and Insensitive

The fact that the show prompted complaints from the public led to the condemnation of revealing the results of a DNA test in such an inappropriate way and at such an insensitive time. A test should never be taken lightly. The results can have a massive 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.

Sensitive Issues
A paternity DNA 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 features brawling couples as they discuss relationships, drugs, crime and parenting. Episodes have featured results of a paternity DNA test being revealed live.

Serious Misjudgement
The TV watchdog, the ITC said ITV had a lapse of “serious misjudgement” for broadcasting the results of a DNA paternity test live on air at a time when children were likely to be watching. A test was taken by a child as young as four for the show and results were couriered into the studio by a motorcyclist. 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 the results of a paternity DNA test on the show and the timing of the programme in the schedules were in poor taste.

Sensitivity and Discretion
If you are looking for a DNA paternity test with sensitivity, discretion and expert advice, go to a reputable company such as International Biosciences.