The number of complaints to the media regulator about the Britain’s Got Talent final has topped 1,000 as the pressure on ITV after the controversial dog-swap intensifies.
The regulator confirmed this morning that 1,043 viewers have now formally complained about this year’s final, which saw winner Jules O’Dwyer introduce a second dog, Chase, for a tightrope trick during her performance with canine chum Matisse. Many viewers believe that the swap wasn’t made clear before they paid 50p a time to vote for the winning act.
The regulator is still weighing up the complaints and is yet to decide whether to formally investigate the incident as a possible breach of its broadcasting regulations.
According to Ofcom sources, a decision is expected within the month. ITV could be fined if it is found to be in breach of rules concerning the fair running of competitions and misleading viewers.
Yesterday, the show’s star judge Simon Cowell insisted there is “no need” to refund viewers who had paid to vote for the winning act, which revolved around a string of stolen sausages. But Cowell added: “You’ve got to own up to your mistakes”.
“The viewers have to trust us and know exactly what goes on. There was definitely no intention from the producers to hide this.
“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.
“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. I could hear in their voices, some were in tears, just mad at themselves.”
However, Cowell has said that he would “welcome” an official Ofcom probe so O’Dwyer could “walk out with her head held high”.
“There’s a cloud over her and I want that cloud to go. I want people to feel proud of her and that she did well and she should be happy.”
The swap took place during Sunday night’s final but was only revealed by Jules the next morning during an interview on Lorraine.
ITV today confirmed that an additional 150 people have complained to them.
Jules and Matisse won £250,000 and the honour of performing in front of the Queen at the Royal Variety Performance.
O’Dwyer beat magician Jamie Raven with 22.6% of the vote to his 20.4%.