Tuesday 6 December 2016

O'Dwyer shocked by 'dog double' row

Published 01/06/2015 | 00:21

Jules O'Dwyer and Matisse, who won this year's Britain's Got Talent final (SYCO/THAMESTVITV/PA Wire)
Jules O'Dwyer and Matisse, who won this year's Britain's Got Talent final (SYCO/THAMESTVITV/PA Wire)

Britain's Got Talent champion Jules O'Dwyer has said she is "shocked and surprised" by the public's reaction to her revelation that she used a stunt double dog for her winning sketch.

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The guide dog trainer, who beat Welsh choir Cor Glanaethwy and magician Jamie Raven to the £250,000 prize with a sketch involving a tightrope and stolen sausages, told ITV's Lorraine show that another border collie - Chase - walked the parallel ropes in their act, because Matisse is not keen on heights.

Annoyed fans expressed their irritation on Twitter, saying that another dog had performed the trick which won them the show.

O'Dwyer said: "I was surprised, I was shocked because I'm thinking 'Why?'. I spent so much time creating this lovely story - I wanted to make it exciting for the people watching. I wanted that 'wow' nail-biting element (where they're at) the edge of their seat, I wanted people to laugh so I wanted the comedy and the humour and then I wanted that 'awww'.

"I was disappointed when people said I allegedly hid Chase and I was trying to make it like Chase was Matisse. That's not so."

She continued: "I introduced Chase in the semi-final, and I said Chase is Matisse's best mate. Chase does the trick very well, Matisse prefers it lower but he's never been at that height. I have a choice: I have a dog that can do it at that height, or I have a dog I'd have to push in three days to achieve this.

"Why put the pressure on the dog, when I already have another dog who can perform it on television?"

The sketch, which starred O'Dwyer as a policewoman going after "sausage thief" Matisse, also featured another of her pets, three-legged Skippy.

O'Dwyer added: "I know my dogs, and I know what they are comfortable with. I'm not hiding anything. Skippy was a secret - I wanted to keep him a secret because that was the emotional factor and we hadn't introduced him before."

The dog trainer, originally from Blackpool but who now lives in Belgium, previously said: "Matisse is a little bit afraid of heights so, although he could physically do it, Chase is the dog who says 'I'm the action dog'. He plays the double for him ."

She also revealed that Matisse is enjoying the spotlight since they triumphed in the ITV show. Their win includes a spot at this year's Royal Variety Performance.

"We can't walk anywhere without the dog seeing somebody and sitting by him, (almost to say), 'Selfie?'," she said. "But the dogs' welfare comes first. I won't let them be mobbed by 100 kids on one street. We do protect them, it's got to be realistic."

O'Dwyer, who has had no sleep since her win, continued: "The dogs had some special treats. Ant and Dec gave them some new toys - they might have broken a couple of them as they were over-enthusiastic. They got a lot of toys and gifts from the crew members."

More than 13 million viewers watched O'Dwyer and Matisse become the second dog act to win Britain's Got Talent, following Ashleigh Butler and Pudsey in 2012, in the highest rating final since that year.

Last night's final drew a peak of 13.4 million viewers, a 52% share of viewing and the highest peak audience of the series.

The show averaged 11.7 million viewers and a 48% share of viewing between 7.30pm and 10pm, making it the highest-rating programme on TV this year. It is the only programme on British television to go over 11 million viewers in 2015.

O'Dwyer admitted winning was a shock, saying: "I never thought I could win it. I was naive. Just being in the last three was enough of an achievement already."

ITV has released voting figures which showed O'Dwyer and Matisse won by just 2% - getting 22.6% of votes, compared to 20.4% for magician Raven.

Outraged viewers claimed to be "misled" over Matisse on the tightrope stunt.

Rachel Louise wrote: "How can BGT allow a stunt double for the dog and try to hide it, shouldn't be allowed to be the winner!"

Vicky Simpson said: "Matisse had a stunt double the viewers didn't know about when they voted last night. BGT tricked viewers and are wrong not to inform them."

Maria Fowler wrote: "Very misleading that Matisse didn't do the tight rope trick on BGT and apparently was a stunt double."

Niamh Skinner said: "I've just been informed that Matisse had a stunt double doing the tightrope walk. Absolutely fuming. I voted for that dog!"

Andrea Foreman wrote: "I think they should step down and give it to the magic man."

Casey Fleischmann added: "I feel cheated."

But others described the furore as a storm in a teacup.

Mike Ward wrote: "So she trained more than one dog to be brilliant? Seriously, what's the problem?!"

Stephanie Soteriou said: "The outrage surrounding Matisse having a stunt double is ridiculous, we knew she had two dogs the same? And she is still the one to train it?"

A spokesman for the producers of Britain's Got Talent said: "The audience had previously seen from Jules's semi-final routine that she works with a second dog Chase alongside Matisse. For the final performance, as Jules has said publicly herself, Chase completed the tight-rope walking section of the act.

"During the competition viewers have seen that Jules's act involves a team of dogs, including Chase and Skippy, alongside starring dog Matisse, to perform her unique mixture of dog agility and story-telling. We are sorry if this was not made clearer to the judges and viewers at home during their final performance."

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