Use of ‘doggie double’ in talent show causes uproar in the United Kingdom
Producers and TV executives have apologized for failing to inform viewers ahead of time that a dog trainer who won the season-ending finale of the highly rated “Britain’s Got Talent” competition used a “doggie double” to perform a risky trick.
The guide dog trainer, Jules O’Dwyer, was the viewers’ choice, pocketing a 250,000-pound (US$383,000) prize for her efforts. But viewers weren’t told that the border collie Matisse was replaced by a lookalike dog, named Chase, for a tightrope-walking sequence during the fiveminute routine in Sunday night’s live final.
In earlier weeks of the competition, she had introduced viewers to both dogs, and executives said they thought viewers understood she was using a team of dogs, not just one, for her humorous routines.
ITV chief Peter Fincham said that “in hindsight” it should have been made more evident to viewers that more than one dog was being used in the finals, which drew an audience of more than 13 million.
Producers also apologized for not making it more evident that Matisse didn’t perform the entire routine.
O’Dwyer said she was “shocked and surprised” by the outcry. She said she used Chase for the tightrope-walking sequence because Matisse is afraid of heights.
The act is billed “Jules O’Dwyer and Matisse.”
O’Dwyer triumphed over a Welsh choir and a magician in the competition, which allows viewers to choose the winner via telephone calls and text messages.
Some said on Twitter they would have voted differently if they knew two dogs had been used.
Broadcast regulator OFCOM said more than 200 complaints have been received. No decision has been made on whether a formal investigation will be launched.
In this May 26 file photo, Jules O’Dwyer walks with her dogs including Matisse, outside Fountain Studios in Wembley, north London.