Ofcom rules Britain's Got Talent misled viewers over Matisse stunt double dog
Ofcom has ruled that ITV's Britain's Got Talent misled viewers during the series finale when a stunt double dog was used during the Jules & Matisse act.
During the act Jules O'Dwyer's dog Matisse was seen to walk a tightrope. However, many viewers felt duped when it was later revealed that a stunt double dog Chase had actually performed the trick.
The UK broadcasting regulator received more than 1,175 complaints about the incident and launched an investigation.
O'Dwyer and Matisse went on to narrowly win the competition with 4.5m public votes and bagged £250,000 and a place in the Royal Variety Performance.
The votes cost 50p if made by landline or mobile but were free on the BGT app.
The Guardian reports a spokesperson for Ofcom as saying, "After a detailed investigation, we found ITV broke broadcasting rules by misleading viewers during the series finale.
“We accepted ITV had no intention to deceive the audience. However, the presentation of the act did not make clear to viewers that a central part was performed by a second dog”.
ITV broke a rule of the broadcasting code which states that “broadcasters must ensure that viewers and listeners are not materially misled about any broadcast competition or voting”.
O'Dwyer revealed a stunt double dog had been used during her interview on Lorraine on the day after the finale.
While ITV acknowledged that viewers may have felt misled, they stated, "At no point was there an active decision not to reveal Chase as a performer" and added that not revealing the stunt double was an "editorial mistake".
Ofcom did not rule that ITV would face sanctions and have to repay viewers who paid to vote. However, ITV has already provided a form for viewers who did pay to fill out in order to claim their 50p refund.
ITV revealed that more than 90 per cent of votes were made for free via the app.
BGT judge Simon Cowell told the Daily Mirror at the time that he felt "a bit of an idiot" when he learned the truth and wanted the cloud over Jules to go as there was never any intention to mislead anyone.
"The moment I found out I literally put my head in my hands. I spoke to a lot of people after, and I did raise my voice," he said.
"But it was mainly people owning up to it. They felt embarrassed, they felt frustrated, they felt stupid but you've got to man up to this stuff.
"The producers are absolutely gutted. I was so depressed for the show, for Jules and for the producers themselves, because they are not horrible people.
"They didn't think how it would appear. I was frustrated because I didn't really know what I was judging until afterwards so I felt like a bit of an idiot."