Ofcom has launched an investigation into this year’s Britain’s Got Talent final.
The official enquiry follows 1,150 complaints after it was revealed the ITV talent show’s winner Jules O’Dwyer used a second dog, Chase, in a tightrope trick in the final performance. Her dancing dog act was called Jules and Matisse, leading viewers to believe there was only one dog involved, Matisse, and the switch wasn’t made clear at the time.
O’Dwyer took 22.6% of the 4.5 million votes on the night, beating magician Jamie Raven who came in second place with 20.4% of the votes.
“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,” a spokesperson for Ofcom confirmed in a statement.
The investigation, which can take up to 50 days, will determine whether ITV is in breach of Ofcom rule 2.14 which states: “Broadcasters must ensure that viewers and listeners are not materially misled about any broadcast competiton or voting.”
Ofcom declined to say whether ITV will face a fine if they are found to be in breach, but it is understood that fines are usually imposed for particularly serious or repeat breaches.
Show creator Simon Cowell has previously said he would welcome an investigation, and his production company Syco have issued a statement apologising to viewers.
“The viewers have to trust us and know exactly what goes on,” Cowell told the Daily Mirror after the initial viewer backlash. Cowell added that if O’Dwyer’s act was called “Jules, Matisse and friends” it would have meant the problem could have been avoided. Particularly given O’Dywer had used other dogs in her previous performances, so it wasn’t unknown that she had more trained pooches.