The Underdog Show




Julian Clary (2007)

Tara Palmer-Tomkinson and Mark Durden-Smith (2008)


Judges: Kay Laurence, Annie Clayton and Peter Purves


Splash Media for BBC Two / CBBC, 20 March to 24 April 2007

Splash Media for Living, 21 September to 4 December 2008


Eight celebrities are given rescue dogs and attempt to use the animals' limited capacity for stimulus-response programming to overcome their natural instincts to attack everything that moves and urinate on everything that doesn't. Though the whole concept is possibly a bit redundant considering none of these shows ever test the core canine talent of bounding up to strangers and attempting to rip the flesh from their bones (called "just being friendly") and the agility stuff can now be done by robots.

Anyway, there's a weekly public elimination vote to decide who's best/worst at teaching predatory animals to jump over ladders and it's all tied up with a campaign to find new owners for mistreated dogs.

As for the actual mechanics of the show, there's not much to say. Take the generic celeb reality template, replace the singing/dancing/showjumping with doggy stuff, and that's exactly what it's like. For the record, there are three judges, all but three contestants progress based on a fifty-fifty split of judges' scores and viewers' votes, one of the last three is saved by the judges and another by 30 seconds of desperate showing-off followed by a frantic extra five minutes of telephone voting. This being the BBC, money from the phone lines goes to Children In Need. In fact, the only way this deviates from every other Light Entertainment phone-voting extravaganza is in being on BBC Two, where it feels very out-of-place.

In short, it's a reality show with dogs. What do you expect?


Clive Anderson (broadcaster), Anton Du Beke (dancer), Kirsty Gallacher (TV presenter), Mishal Husain (pronouncer), Huey Morgan (Fun Lovin' Criminal), Theo Paphitis (dragon), Julia Sawalha (actress), Selina Scott (ex-TV presenter - winner)

Series 2: Javine Hylton (singer), MC Harvey (MC), Ninia Benjamin (non-blonde comedian), Lesley Joseph (off Birds of a Feather), Raef Bjayou (would-be apprentice), Elize du Toit (Hollyoaks actress), Jason Wood (comedian), Camilla Dallerup (dancer), Brian Blessed (loud man), Kevin Sacre (Hollyoaks actor - winner)


Fenia Vardanis


Jeremy Paxman had a swipe at this show in his 2007 MacTaggart Memorial Lecture, moaning that Newsnight had been "obliged to follow an hour [sic] of celebrity dog walking".

Theme music

Mike Westergaard


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