WHEN you think of guests on The Jerry Springer Show, if you ever do, who do you think of? 

People throwing chairs at one another, no doubt. People who had amputated their own limbs. Maybe the man who married a horse, or that woman into self-trepanning. I made one of them up but you might not guess which.

You probably don't think of Rev Jesse Jackson, the civil rights leader and Democratic presidential candidate. Not the sombre and the credible, no. The outlandish, outrageous, slightly out of this world.

And yet, of course, Springer's guests were not out of this world. They were very much of the world, and that was the point of them.

Can't cope with weans on planes? It's the naughty step for you

Following Jerry Springer's recent death at the age of 79, much has been made of the impact his eponymous TV talk show had on modern popular culture, not just in the US but globally. 

Springer is credited variously with trashing our culture, bringing television to new lows, and the ruthless exploitation of vulnerable people. He's also credited with sparking a boom in reality television, democratising television and treating ordinary lives with importance. 

It's all about perspective. What Springer did, which is what every good salesman does, is he spotted a gap in the market and gave the people what they wanted.

He was a politician too, and he did what politicians so often do, which is to abandon their principles in the giving. 

The Jerry Springer Show actual began life as a serious political talk show. He hosted guests with gravitas, like Rev Jackson, to talk about the important issues: poverty, gun control, equality.

Ratings plummeted; he looked for a new way of doing things. Instead of listening to experts, he pivoted to what we now call lived experience. Ahead of his time in that regard.

Keir Starmer is passing the buck on the dealing with misogyny

The topics discussed, from still being hooked on social issues, became more and more outlandish. People wanted their slice of fame, they wanted to appear on Jerry Springer and they were happy to forfeit any sense of privacy to do so.

Privacy, for my generation, is an opaque notion. We know, nominally, what it is but we haven't comprehensively experienced it. We Millennials grew up with Springer and then his ilk on the TV and we came of age when reality television really started coming in to its own.

Tabloid television and the desire to air one's private issues in public has long been the norm.

The difference for us has been in the taking control of how our personal stories are shared. Springer gave a glimpse into people's living rooms but now, thanks to YouTube and TikTok, no intermediary in a sharp suit and spectacles is needed. 

The Jerry Springer Show was terrible but it was enduring and it was enduring because Springer kept stirring the pot with increasingly large spoons. Small things: the boxing bell that was introduced when fights broke out; the stripper pole he slid down. 

A celebrity, a death and walking in Glasgow's Govanhill

Bigger things: the character of a drunken reverend who used to amp up the drama. Episodes without the signature fist fights would plummet in the ratings and Springer new that sensation was the surest way to draw audiences.

A lot of it was dispiriting sad. In the early 2000s a new schtick emerged where female audience members would pull up their tops to flash their boobs and be rewarded with necklaces called "Jerry beads". What's noticeable from reels of these clips is how Springer looks away, impassive, as these women lift their shirts up and the audience chants encouragement.

At the end of each show, Springer would try to bring an air of gravitas back, he'd try to shoehorn in a moral from the fighting and the scrapping. In one of these Final Thoughts segments he defended the level of antagonism on the show by saying "the loss of civility" was the "price of reality". 

Is it? Must raw emotion always be un-anchored from decency? The argument in favour of Jerry Springer was that he gave the public what they wanted. 

On my 25 year love affair with American pop band the Eels

Springer had been a news reporter at a local TV station, worked hard and was promoted up the ranks before being given his own show in 1991. He was politically liberal and scathing of Donald Trump during the 2016 presidential race. It's too simplistic to say there is a direct line from Springer to Trump but one can connect the dots, at least.

Taking a chance that people will prefer fisticuffs to level discourse has moved from being a ratings winner on reality TV to be a vote winner in politics. Trump, of course, was a success at both of these things.

He was pugilistic on television and the audience lapped it up and he was pugilistic behind the lectern and the electorate lapped it up. 

Now we have a political sphere where "boring" has become a dirty word. Sir Keir Starmer can't wash it off, no matter how he tries. He can screw up all manner of policies, he could lose the next election to a lame Conservative party, and the word that will haunt him is "boring". 

The Jerry Springer Show is a salutory lesson in what happens when we allow boredom to become the death-knell for discussion. In the wake of Boris Johnson and Donald Trump there have been plenty of think pieces on the much-longed for return to boring. Calm might be a better call as a counter for chaos.

But a rebranding of what it means to be boring would be useful. It's a more complicated trait than simply boring versus whacky. It's possible to be steady and charismatic. To be intellectually inclined and funny.  

There's nothing wrong with boring. Patience is, indeed, a virtue. We should be more worried about the price of the loss of civility in a pretence of reality. Springer didn't so much present real people as encourage real people to caricature themselves for the cameras, just as Trump and Johnson became easy caricatures. 

Boring as a trait has an honesty and authenticity to it and that is what's lacking from The Jerry Springer Show and all that has come in its stead.