Britain’s Got Talent to be investigated over stunt-double dog

Simon Cowell has said there is no need to return phone-vote money despite 1,150 complaints about the switch that helped Jules O’Dwyer and Matisse win final

Ofcom has launched a formal investigation into Britain’s Got Talent after complaints over the use of a stunt-double dog that helped Jules O’Dwyer and Matisse to win the final.

The broadcasting regulator received 1,150 complaints about the use of a second dog, called Chase, to perform the high rope walk that clinched O’Dwyer the £250,000 first prize and a place in the Royal Variety Performance.

O’Dwyer narrowly won the public vote, in which 4.5m votes were cast via the BGT app for free, and by landline or mobile at 50p.

O’Dwyer and Matisse received 22.6% of the votes cast, narrowly beating magician Jamie Raven, who drew 20.4%.

“We’ve opened an investigation to determine whether viewers of ITV’s Britain’s Got Talent final, who may have paid money to vote, were misled about the competition,” said an Ofcom spokesman.

According to the code, broadcasters must ensure that viewers and listeners are not materially misled about any broadcast competition or voting.

Simon Cowell has dubbed the controversy a “cock-up” but said that there was no need to refund angry viewers’ phone-vote money.

ITV has admitted that viewers should have been told about the stunt double. It has received 165 complaints about the BGT final.

O’Dwyer had used the second dog Chase in the semi-final, but in the performance both dogs appeared together on stage.

Ofcom also cleared a second canine act, which featured French ventriloquist Marc Metral and “talking” dog Wendy, following complaints about the welfare of the animal.

The broadcasting regulator received 122 complaints from viewers concerned that it appeared that Wendy had a mechanical device covering her snout to make her “talk”, and that caused the animal distress.

“We assessed a number of complaints about the welfare of the ‘talking’ dog act on this show but won’t be taking the matter forward for investigation,” said an Ofcom spokesman. “We’d previously assessed complaints about this issue and had received information from ITV about the steps it had taken to ensure the dog was appropriately cared for.”


Mark Sweney

The GuardianTramp

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