The Underdog Show BBC 2

After a great weekend of Crufts TV, BBC 2 is back with more dog-related programming in the form of The Underdog Show.

The show pairs eight rescue dogs from The Dogs Trust’s West London rehoming centre with eight celebrities. Each week, the dogs and celebs undergo increasingly difficult obedience and agility tasks, with their performance rated both by a panel of expert judges and the viewers at home. Sadly, the pair with the lowest score is evicted from the show each week.

The first episode of The Underdog Show was great fun! Unlike Dog Borstal, which focuses on the failings of owners, and the somewhat cynical Help! My Dog’s as Fat as Me, it summed up what’s so great about living with dogs.

Each of the eight dogs displayed huge amounts of character, leaving the celebrities somewhat in the shade. Throughout the tasks, the dogs were clearly having fun, even if the celebrities were occasionally frustrated.

Julian Clary presents the show and is accompanied by his dog Valerie. It’s good to see a presenter who is well known for their love of dogs.

Overall, particularly thanks to the involvement of The Dogs Trust, The Underdog Show is a great way to show the wider public that rescue dogs make fantastic companions. Let’s hope one or two viewers give a home to a dog in need.

  • Marian Hilton


    I was amazed and disgusted to read in today’s Mail on Sunday that the BBC is claiming the charity money from phone calls for Children in Need. That charity gets more than enough and animal charities are more deserving of help on this programme.
    I trust this will be reconsidered and animal charities get the money donated on an animal programme such as this…..

    Marian Hilton

  • I love this show, I know a lot of people are wary about taking in a rescue dog, and this shows how wonderful and grateful they are.

    Eight years ago I rescued a lab collie X, he is so gentle.

    Cuddling up with my minature rabbit, he loves and is so patient with my friends babies and children. He will let me take a bone out of his mouth, he just is the most gentle obedient and adorable dog you could meet.

    We are learning as many of the tricks as we can each week, as he likes the challenge, well done BBC, great show, and bless Julian Clary (he such a dog lover) and I love Valerie and all the dogs, so sweet.

  • sharon

    don’t understand why they’ve decided to give the money to children in need either. bbc probably too politically correct to consider giving it to dogs…they need to be seen to support the right causes especially in wake of phone rip off rows. they could’ve at least split the funds between the two.

  • Michelle Smart

    i agree with Marian. These rescue dogs are trying so hard to learn new tricks, bond with unknown people and cope with the studio audience. unbeknown to them, they are raising the profile of all rescue dogs and giving hope where none dared exist. How dare the BBC deceive the voting public with a small print clause sending the money to a non animal charity. i will not weigh the merits of one charity against another but i expect the charity to relate to the program where this is possible. I am disgusted with this deceit and will save my donation for a local animal charity.

  • Patricia Brooks

    I love watching any animal programme but doggy ones are my favorite. I have had a rescue dog in the past and she was so obedient people thought I must have had her as a pup.She loved my two cats and even accepted a stray which come to stay.I agree the money raised should go to animal charities.Tonight Julian said only three people had phoned in for Chump WHY? he looks adorable so please someone consider him I would but I now live in a flat .Still have a cat though could’nt be without a pet and he was a stray.

  • Julie

    I enjoy watching the show – all my dogs have been rescue dogs and I wouldn’t have any other! However, I am concerned that the dogs in this show are having to adapt to new, and in some cases only temporary homes and owners, for the length of the TV series, only to be dispatched off to the rescue centre at the end of it. This could be extremely damaging to them, having been uprouted from their original homes for whatever reason, and then adapting to life in a rescue centre. To be abandoned yet again seems unnecessarily cruel. I believe that the celebs taking part in the programme should only do so if they are prepared to take the dogs permanently. It seems that one or two of them are only involved in this programme to show off their own personalities!

  • nicola mckeen

    I do agree with the other people who think that the money should go to animals rather then children in need. What I want to know is why???? I do love this show and I do have to admit that it makes me cry every week. Thankyou BBC for putting this show on air,I think it will make people aware that there are so so many animals in need of love and a home out there. I think the celebs are great in taking these lovely animals in, children in need is a good charity but they did get a lot of money so I think it is greedy to be taking more because these animals DO NEED IT. I would love to take an animal in but I live with my mum and between us we have 2 parrots,3 dogs,2 lots of fish,1 hamster and a lizzard so we just dont have room,but it has made me come to think that when me and my husband get out own place,we will be getting a rescue animal. Animals dont have a voice so let us try and get this sorted and get them some money out of this.

  • Anne Dale

    Please find a way to get rid of Huey ASAP. He is totally useless and poor Casper is getting more and more confused. It is very unkind to treat a dog like that and is going to cause terrible problems to whoever adopts him. I cannot believe that he wasn’t removed at least 3 weeks ago, the Judges certainly think he’s totally awful. You must find a way of getting rid of him next week, or you are going to find a large number of dog owners are going to write to the Press etc. etc

  • Joanne molloy

    Please tell me if i have got this right:

    You’ve took 8 dogs from a rehoming centre and given them to 8 celeb’s to train for the show, when the celeb and there dog get knocked out what happens to the dog, the dog that has got used to its new owner and has grown to love, does that dog go back into its kennal at the rehoming centre, to wait till god knows when for a propper owner to love and not 1 just tring to make a show. I think the idea for the show is great if you had used celebs WITH THERE OWN dogs!!!

    This saddens me and most of my family for these poor dogs whos feeling because guess what they do have them, haven’t been considered once in the making of this show.

    Please let me know if i have this all wrong and that they don’t get shipped back to the home at the end.

    Thank you for reading my e-mail


  • Georgia

    Cookie! is sooooo cute

  • Joanne

    I agree with Joanne and the issues she raises. I have raised them in an email to the BBC. I wanted them to reassure me and others who feel like me that the welfare of the dogs is of utmost importance, above the entertainment factor. Ginger went back to kennels when he was voted out and this to me seems wrong. I thought they could at least have got celebrities lined up who all wanted rescue dogs rather than making the dogs bond with someone and then have it taken away once they are deemed not ‘cute’ enough and are voted out. Rescue dogs are already vulnerable without needing the extra stresses this show creates. I am sure the Dog’s Trust chose the dogs carefully – ensuring they would be able to cope etc BUT it does not make me less uneasy about what happens to the ones that the celebs do not adopt. People have not enquired about Chump for example because they perhaps see him as ‘too difficult’ based on the handling of the celeb eventhough he would actually make a wonderful family pet. Anyway, I find it hard to take and hope that my fears and doubts are unfounded. Rescues need promoting and supporting but perhaps the format should be changed a bit. And what is the excuse for not sneding all the money to an animal charity? Appalling.

  • Linda

    I also think firstly that the money should be going to an animal charity, if not to the dog trust it self.

    Also hope if there is another show, you make sure that the celebs that are taking part are willing to take the dogs home. If I was a ceeb I would not consider taking part unless I was going to take the dog. That then gives the other dogs in the dogs trust a chance of being rehomed.

  • Joanne molloy

    hear hear to linda
    i completely agree!!!

  • Claire

    I love the programme, being an owner of a resuce dog myself, however this weeks programme really upset, who was the fool who decided to use a plate of doughnuts, apple pie and cheese around these dogs, it was crual and shouldnt have been done. Dogs that are kept in kennels have usually had probelms with getting food especially as strays, so it was obvious that they would get distracted by the food. Once a rescue dog is rescued they usually settle down and dont have a problem with food, i can leave a plate of food on the sofa next to my german shep rescue dog and he wont touch it. The show put over the view that rescue dogs were food orientaded but they are not. I think the show should say sorry to the dogs and handlers who are doing very well.

  • Dave

    I totally agree – I have 4 re-home dogs all through the Dogs Trust – a red Collie cross (dead spit for Ginger), working Springer Spaniel, golden Labrador and a white Boxer. None are food aggressive at all – I regularly put my hand in their bowl as they eat and can move the bowl away without as much as a growl. However, to place such temptation in front of a dog in an arena that they perceive as their own territory, as was done in that episode, was always going to result in the dog ‘wolfing’ the food down. If my Lab was there he’d have had the cheese, donuts and apple pie before I could’ve got within 10 yards of him!!

    A further comment again in agreement with others

  • Susan

    Maybe there should be a program about teaching children tricks and the revenue could go to Dogs Trust? Doesn’t make sense does it? Hmmmm…
    In defence of the program, I am pretty sure that the “celebs” don’t take the dogs home, they would go to training sessions with their handlers at the dogs trust with prof trainers. No different to proffessional dog handlers at big dog shows. I doubt that Dogs Trust would just loan out the dogs and also- there is NO WAY that you could give a dog back after you had it for a month or so!

  • Jackie

    Just wanted to say, what an absolute disgrace the judges were tonight, granted that Huey and Casper were not great in the agility and didnt do the doggie dancing thing at the end but give me a break!!! Caspers trainer Donna summed it up perfectly in her final comments. I have watched Casper every week and that dog has come a looooooong way from the first time he was brought out, its awesome to have watched his confidence soar from a scared little dog to now seeing him prance around the arena, with so many people around, full of life, wagging his tail and while he isnt the perfect pooch with what he’s “supposed” to do he has probably made more progress than any other dog in the show.

    Dont blame Huey one bit for his comments back at the judges, they all deserved it, shame on all 3 of them, I hope they never judge a show involving rescue dogs again, they obviously havent got a clue whats involved in their rehabilitation.

  • fiona

    i agree with Jackie, what Huey did was fantastic, there was no way Casper would have danced, and i was in tears when he was singing, he obviously cares a lot for a dog that had such a bad life before. as for the judges, they should be ashamed for the comments they made.

  • Joanne

    I hate to say it but a response from Dogs Trust to the complaints last week about the plates of food was: ‘We at DT take no responsibility for the challenges set by the BBC and have no say in what happens on the show.’ They also did not know that Casper had food aggression issues… This to me does mean they ‘loaned’ the dogs out exactly as I feared. And after 3 weeks I have still not had a genuine reply from the BBC regarding my complaints about the money from phone calls, the fact that the celebs do not adopt the dogs and that Dogs Trust although getting a more famous name, seemed very quick to take part and did not seem to investigate exactly where the focus of this show was going to lie. Apart from a couple of the celebs, all the dogs that were not rehomed with them went back to kennels until someone wanted to adopt them. This was a particular shock for Cookie who had evenspent time in Julia’s home. Disgraceful all in all….

  • steve m

    What a delightful idea for a program elucidating the unique and extrordinary relationship that has existed between man and dog for a 100,000 years or more, and how could anyone take offence at Julian Cleary.
    It seems to me that the principal theme and purpose of the program was to encourage and re introduce people to offer a loving home to an ‘unwanted dog’ and implicit within that offer of the new and loving home comes the responsibility of commitment and consistancy ,which is what really should have happened in the first place, in order that the’unwanted dog’ status is, at last, bannished forever. {unfortunately legislation will probably be necessary)
    I think perhaps that the program conveyed the absolute antithesis to what was intended, its apparent kindly, positive and affirmative action toward discarded dogs (for whatever reason) reminding folk of the connection and eventual mutual loving and enduring pact that can and often does exist between man and dog is suddenly rendered into absurdity when we learn that some of the contestants will not be taking the dog home after all! further endorsing to would be part time dog owners that its ok to love the animal for 10 weeks or so and give it back, whatever the psycological or emotional consequences!?
    I suggest that the reason that the choosen charity benifiting was a childrens charity was a further indictment that the program makers had’nt really thought it through.
    The only possible rationale for this choice is that so far we have been unable to take care of mankind, so until we are competent to achieve at least that, dogs will always be ,at best, a very sad second.
    ps cookie was my favorite for obvious reasons!!!

  • Ann

    I am amazed like so many of those who have commented that the Dogs Trust did’nt benefit financially – the only hope is that GENUINE dog lovers will now consider homing a dog from the Trust.

  • Kathy

    Am I paranoid following all the recent phone-in scandals or was there something not quite right about last nights voting. I know Casper has come a long way during the series and Huey was obviously touting for the sympathy vote, but I am unable to believe that he got more votes than the adorable Cookie, especially considering that the judges marks apparently accounted for half the total votes.
    Staffies are hard dogs to train and Cookie has done absolutely brilliantly as well as being by far the most cute of them all. She was a total delight to watch. I wish her well for the future and I am sure there will be a long queue waiting to give her a loving home (or is it because she will be so wanted that there was no reason for her to win?)
    And yes, without question, the phone money should have been donated to animal charities.

  • Matthew Revell

    Kathy, it’s hard to trust any phone-in vote now.

    As I’ve just posted on the Dogs Rule forums – – it was odd that a message on the screen said the phone lines were frozen, but then we were repeatedly invited to keep voting.

  • sharon

    i thought the judges scathing opinion of huey and caspers performance was a disgrace! pompous peter should stick to crufts. the public clearly voted to keep them in as a reaction to their comments. huey clearly understood caspers capabilities and was right when he pointed out that the show was to highlight the plight of these dogs and show how much love and companionship they can give. its a shame he couldn’t home casper and would imagine he would have a genuine reason for not doing so, is it just me or is doggy dancing one of the most stupid things i’ve ever seen anyway?!! i saw doggy dancin classes on the apprentice a couple of wks ago and it seems to be a certain kind of dog owner who takes part in this. dogs are dogs not dancin partners!

  • Val

    Loved the programme – best thing on TV so far this year. Can we please look forward to a second series soon? Not ashamed to say that I spent much of the time last night reaching for the tissue box. Shame the Celebs could’nt take the dogs in – still they were dogs with GREAT personalities and there are loving dog people out there. Please alter the phone voting system and make the JUDGES decision final each week. Although having said that – Casper is a hero – God love him! Now, where are those tissues….

  • Julian Mclary please have another episode i really love it!! espacially all the rescue dogs ! i iwsh all of them were rehomed. I hated it to see julia couldnt take cookie home and huey couldnt take casper and selina couldnt take chump. But I am more upset that Anton couldnt take ginger home. The dogs on this programe are very intellingent for rescue dogs. Learning tricks agility and even dancing!. I like the judges but sometimes they critisize the dogs . I love all dogs but I much prefur rescue dogs. I mean people taking them in after a horrid life on the streets . And the dogs had great personailites . And so brave not to be distracted bye the audience . The dogs are very clever I love them . I love the way the celebs are so gentle with their dogs . LONG LIVE DOGS

  • immy humphries

    is there going to be another underdog show for children ? if so i would love an oppurtunity to do it

  • susan lovatt

    I loved the show. I agree I think the phone in money should have gone to an animal charity. While I think I knew where the judges where coming from I felt that they were just too serious and did not really commit fully to the “idea of the show” and that was to promote rehoming wonderful dogs. I was so sad Julia could not adopt Cookie, I really felt she had a good relationship with her and right up to the penultimate show it was intimated she would adopt her. I have a staffie and a labrador so was unable to offer her a home. Staffies have a very hard time and yet they are wonderful dogs. Julia was right to mention one of the judges comments about a “staffie face”; Cookie was obviously upset and worried by something she had seen.

    I hope we will find out how all the “homeless” underdogs get on.

  • Amy Whalley

    I loved it and did not want it to end. I thought the dog-handler relationships were just so cute. I loved Casper and Cookie the most! Hopefully because they’re all famous and better trained people might take them on. I would have loved to adopt all of them if I could!
    I really hope they’ve all found kind, loving homes!

  • Jane Bailey

    It’s one thing to say that the little dog casper shouldn’t be forced or pushed into anything but come on …..Huey did nothing to show that dog off to it’s advantage. You only had to watch him in the training clips. He could have done more then just sit there and play a guitar.
    Well done Peter Purves for your comments , dogs need training not tea and sympathy!
    As for doggie dancing , it has it’s place it occupys a dog mind , something many owners don’t even consider . As for a certain ‘type of owner’ taking part in it… well If a dog could vote it would rather be owned by the likes of Mary Ray .

  • Hello All

    Steve Mann here, trainer to Chump and Selina Scott, winners of the Underdog Show.
    Now the dust has finally settled on the show, if anyone has any questions at all regarding the project, please, fire away!


    Steve Mann

  • Hi

    i was casper and hueys trainer. Like someone said casper wasnt the easiest and had come so far. huey knew casper capabilities and we decided to not make him dance.

    just to let everyone know that i fell in love with casper and he now lives in newcastle with me. so if anyone want to know anything more about casper lease feel free to ask.


    donna x

  • Brenda Sopel

    Does any one know if the underdog show is being shown again this year?
    I thought it was marvellous. However it would be nice for any money made to be donated to any dog/cat charity and maybe the celebrities could offer to keep all the dogs chosen for the programme!

  • joy sinclair

    My friend and I have tickets for the audience of the Underdog show tonight, but I cant find any deatils about a new series anywhere. Arenthese tickets genuine.

  • Hi There Brenda,

    You asked if there is going to be another Underdog Show. I can confirm that the show will be aired again next month but it will be on Living TV rather than on the BBC. My business, Just Dogs was delighted to be able to donate collars and leads to all the Dogs Trust dogs that have taken part in the programme. I will be looking forward to watching the programme and hope that it helps raise awareness of the fantastic work the Dogs Trust do!


  • Lauren

    hi people,

    i might be entering the underdog show but i dont know yet > but the childrens one though.

  • chloe

    y hi everyone does asnone no if there will be another series of the underdog show this year . the last one i whatched was the one with julia swalha n cookie the dog .

    thanks xxx

    ps: will you please write back on the wa;; and let me no please ? xxxxxx