Jules O'Dwyer and her trained pooches triumphed in the 2015 final in May (15), during which around 4.5 million votes were cast, but many viewers lodged official complaints after she later admitted a stunt double had replaced her dog Matisse for a key part of the performance.

Officials at British watchdog The Office of Communications (Ofcom) launched an investigation after receiving 1,175 complaints, and they have now ruled the debacle breached the broadcasting code.

The ruling states, "We have no reason to believe that there was any intention to deceive viewers that the tightrope walk actually involved a second dog... (But) although the (programme-makers) may not have intended to deceive viewers, the presentation of the act as 'Jules O'Dwyer & Matisse' not only had the potential to mislead, but was likely to have done... In circumstances where viewers are encouraged to participate in a vote, especially when they are invited to pay to do so, licensees have a particular responsibility to ensure that viewers are clear what they are voting for. In this case... as evidenced by numerous complainants to Ofcom - many viewers were not aware that a central part of a dog agility act was performed by a second animal."

The regulator did not impose any tough sanctions, but bosses at ITV, the network behind the show, have offered refunds to viewers who voted for O'Dwyer. She has not been stripped of her title.