Watchdog (TV series)

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BBC Watchdog.png
Also known as Watchdog Daily (Series 2 & 32)
Genre Investigative Journalism
Directed by Jaco Smith
Mark Harrison
Keir MacKenzie
Presented by Sophie Raworth
Matt Allwright
Chris Hollins
Michelle Ackerley
(See full list)
Theme music composer Music 4
Country of origin United Kingdom
Original language(s) English
No. of series 38 (inc. daytime)
No. of episodes 850+
Executive producer(s) Lisa Ausden
Producer(s) Helen Collins
Michelle Cox
Emma Jay
Editor(s) Jeff Anderson
Location(s) BBC Television Centre (1980–2012)
The Hospital Club (2013—)
Running time 60 minutes
Original network BBC One
BBC One HD (Nov 2010)
Picture format
Original release 14 July 1985 (1985-07-14) – present
Related shows Rogue Traders
Watchdog Test House
External links

Watchdog is a BBC television series that investigates viewers' reports of problematic experiences with traders, retailers, and other companies around the UK. It has had great success in changing the awareness consumers have of their purchasing rights and in changing policies of companies, closing down businesses, and pushing for law changes. It has the longstanding slogan "the programme you cannot afford to miss". The show has seen a variety of hosts and its new series is currently presented by Sophie Raworth, Chris Hollins, Matt Allwright and Michelle Ackerley.

It is shown on BBC One and is available for online viewing or download via BBC iPlayer.


Watchdog was first shown on 8 September 1980[1] as a weekly slot on BBC1's news magazine programme Nationwide. Hugh Scully, best known for presenting the Antiques Roadshow, was the original host.[citation needed] Nationwide ended in 1983, but Watchdog continued with its successor, Sixty Minutes. Sixty Minutes lasted only nine months, and Scully left the programme at the end of the 1984 series.

Watchdog returned on 14 July 1985 as a stand-alone weekly programme, presented by Nick Ross with Lynn Faulds Wood, on a Sunday evening.[2] On 24 November 1986, Watchdog become part of the new BBC daytime schedules, broadcast daily at 8.40 on Mondays to Fridays. Ross was replaced by Faulds Wood's husband, John Stapleton, as co-presenter.[3] The new husband and wife team was the first married team of presenters on UK television.[citation needed] BBC1 Programme Controller Michael Grade said the show defied the laws of television gravity boosting audiences for the launch of BBC Daytime.

On 15 November 1987, Watchdog became a weekly show once again, broadcasting on a Sunday teatime with a repeat the following day during the daytime. Lynn Faulds Wood won a Consumer Journalist of the Decade award.

On 4 January 1988, the series was moved to Monday, with a daytime and a peaktime broadcast,[4] the show become even more forceful, investigating big businesses and conducting more investigative journalism. By January 1989 the daytime broadcast was dropped as the show was delivering audiences of up to 6 million in peaktime. The show achieved many multi-million pound recalls (cars, vans, ovens, puchairs, microwaves, computers etc.), recovered £19 million in overpaid fuel surchages on package holidays and regularly featured major name companies. As she was recovering from advanced bowel cancer, Lynn Faulds Wood left to make medical investigations for ITV's World in Action programme (e.g. "Doctor Knows Best" - 10.2 million & "Bobby Moore & Me" - 6.5 million) [5][6]

When the 1993 series was taken over by Anne Robinson, Watchdog shifted focus slightly. Robinson was teamed with Simon Walton and Alice Beer, an assistant producer who was brought on as a link person between the consumers (on the phone in earlier years and e-mail in later years) and the main presenter. Beer left in 1999 and was replaced by Charlotte Hudson.[citation needed] Robinson followed in 2001 when she went on to front the British and American versions of The Weakest Link, to be replaced by Nicky Campbell and Kate Sanderson.[citation needed] In 2005, the presenters were Campbell and Julia Bradbury, with assistance from Paul Heiney and Saima Mohsin. Nick Lawrence replaced Saima Mohsin as reporter in 2005.

Julia Bradbury briefly departed the programme on 16 February 2009, returning on 20 April 2009.[7] During her absence, she was replaced by Anita Rani.[8] Rani continued as a reporter with the programme in place of Saima Mohsin.

On 10 May 2009, a plan to relaunch Watchdog was announced.[9] The new series began on 10 September 2009, with presenters Nicky Campbell and Julia Bradbury replaced by returning host Anne Robinson, Anita Rani, and Matt Allwright, whose show Rogue Traders was incorporated into the new programme, which increased from a 30-minute slot to a full hour. In 2010, Rani left the programme and was replaced by Chris Hollins.

On 30 October 2012, it was announced that a new daytime series would launch on Monday 12 November 2012 on BBC One.[10] Watchdog Daily ran every weekday morning at 11:00am for 4 weeks.[11]

In March 2014, a daytime series called Watchdog Test House aired in a daytime slot. The show was presented by Sophie Raworth and former Watchdog host Lynn Faulds Wood as reporter.

On 10 September 2015, it was announced that Robinson would step down as host once again; this time in order to film a new series of Britain's Spending Secrets for the channel. Robinson presented Watchdog for a total of 15 years.[12] Raworth and Ackerly were later announced as her replacements.


Duration Lead presenter(s) Other presenters
1980–84 Hugh Scully
1985–86 Nick Ross
Lynn Faulds Wood
1986–93 Lynn Faulds Wood John Stapleton
1993–94 Anne Robinson Alice Beer and Simon Walton
1994–99 Alice Beer
1999–2001 Charlotte Hudson
2001–05 Nicky Campbell
Kate Sanderson
2005–08 Nicky Campbell
Julia Bradbury
Paul Heiney and Nick Lawrence
2008–09 Paul Heiney and Dan Penteado
2009–10 Anne Robinson Anita Rani, Matt Allwright and Dan Penteado
2010–12 Chris Hollins, Matt Allwright and Dan Penteado
2012–15 Chris Hollins and Matt Allwright
2015–present Sophie Raworth
Michelle Ackerley

Current reporters[edit]


Along with attempts to interview business people in the streets, which were often met with a great deal of animosity, the presenters often invite company representatives into the studio to discuss viewers' consumer problems. While those were frequently turned down, many companies used the opportunity to turn the situation around to their advantage, offering full apologies and refunds.

In the 2000s, it became common for company interviewees to be advised by media advisers. Watchdog has also made use of hidden cameras and recording equipment, in the manner of investigative journalist Roger Cook.

Notable investigations[edit]

Fitted plugs[edit]

In the late 1980s, Watchdog investigations showed that numerous accidents were caused when the electrical plugs on new electrical appliances were incorrectly wired.[13] At the time, all new electrical goods were sold with bare wires and customers were expected to fit plugs themselves. These investigations led to a British law forcing all manufacturers selling electrical products in the UK to supply them with fitted plugs.[14]

Hoover free flights[edit]

In 1992 and 1993, The Hoover Company introduced a "free flights" offer whereby any customer spending over £100 would receive two free flights to New York. Due to an overwhelming response, many people did not receive their tickets and were denied the opportunity to take their free flights. After hundreds of complaints to Watchdog, an investigation by reporter Simon Walton revealed that the company in charge of processing applications was trying to deny customers their free flights in an effort to stem the rising costs. This quickly became headline news and Hoover were forced to give all customers the flights, costing them an estimated £40 million and the jobs of all the board members.[15]


Television sales channel Auction failed to deliver goods or offer refunds to over 27,000 customers in the early 2000s, and were fined £450,000 by the regulatory body OFCOM.[16] Investigations by Watchdog forced refunds and the closure of the channel, and traced the owner to Cyprus, where he refused to answer questions.[17]

The Accident Group[edit]

This company was exposed by Watchdog after secret filming revealed it was encouraging members of the public to make bogus claims for personal injury compensation.[citation needed] As a result, The Accident Group went out of business, sacking its staff by sending them text messages.[18]

Direct Kitchens, Kitchens and Maple Industries[edit]

Direct Kitchens, Kitchens and Maple Industries are all companies that are or have been based at Maple Mill, in Oldham, Greater Manchester and headed by controversial entrepreneur Vance Miller. The companies have been investigated by Watchdog on several occasions. Miller, who has a string of convictions in several countries,[19] has been branded by the media as the "Kitchen Gangster", became the first person in Britain to be handed a ‘Stop Now’ order by the Office of Fair Trading after consistently supplying kitchens which were not sold as advertised.[citation needed]

Dan Penteado[edit]

On 17 July 2012, Dan Penteado, the co-host of Matt Allwright in the Rogue Traders section on Watchdog, was jailed for 12 weeks for benefit fraud.[20] Magistrates at Bournemouth heard how Penteado, the leather clad biker who accompanied Matt Allwright in the ambushing of Rogue Traders had claimed £25,000 in benefits whilst appearing in the show that paid him £56,000 over the four-year period from 2008 to 2011 that the benefits were claimed for. It was announced after the case that Penteado had been sacked from the show.[20]


Series Start date End date Episodes
14 July 1985
6 October 1985
24 November 1986
15 May 1987
15 November 1987
23 May 1988
3 October 1988
10 April 1989
4 September 1989
18 December 1989
1 October 1990
4 February 1991
30 September 1991
13 April 1992
7 September 1992
5 April 1993
6 September 1993
23 May 1994
5 September 1994
1 May 1995
4 September 1995
25 March 1996
5 September 1996
27 March 1997
4 September 1997
9 April 1998
10 September 1998
8 April 1999
9 September 1999
4 May 2000
5 October 2000
26 April 2001
13 September 2001
9 April 2002
3 September 2002
6 May 2003
2 September 2003
27 April 2004
7 September 2004
12 April 2005
6 September 2005
9 May 2006
3 October 2006
2 May 2007
3 October 2007
12 May 2008
13 October 2008
18 May 2009
10 September 2009
12 November 2009
6 May 2010
10 June 2010
9 September 2010
25 November 2010
7 April 2011
26 May 2011
1 September 2011
20 October 2011
15 March 2012
3 May 2012
12 September 2012
31 October 2012
12 November 2012
7 December 2012
1 May 2013
19 June 2013
18 September 2013
6 November 2013
14 May 2014
2 July 2014
16 October 2014
4 December 2014
7 May 2015
25 June 2015
8 October 2015
3 December 2015

*Series 2 and Series 32 were the Daily formats. *Series 37 started with a special programme called Watchdog at 30, looking back over the show's history.


  • Watchdog Healthcheck – 1995 to 2002, about health matters, presented by Judith Hann and later by Alice Beer
  • Weekend Watchdog – 1997 to 2001
  • Watchdog: Are You Being Served?
  • Watchdog Daily – live and interactive series aired in 2012 in which Sophie Raworth takes on the big household-names, getting results and showing viewers how they can fight back
  • Watchdog Test House – testing of household products, presented by Sophie Raworth; aired in 2014 and 2015


Related programmes[edit]

  • Value for Money – mainly about shopping, presented by Vanessa Feltz and Charlotte Hudson
  • Face Value – about the fashion industry, presented by Alice Beer
  • The Big Dinner – about the food industry, presented by Jonathan Maitland
  • On the House
  • Short Change – about consumer affairs aimed at children between 7-16 year-olds, originally presented by Zoë Ball, then Andi Peters, then Tim Vincent, and up until 2003, Angellica Bell. It was then presented by Thalia Pellegrini, Rhodri Owen and Ortis. Many complaints included problems with service, bad deals, and being generally ripped-off. Finished in 2005.
  • Rogue Traders – undercover series examining con artists and cowboy workers
  • Rogue Restaurants – spin-off series to Rogue Traders, examining restaurants

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Nationwide - BBC One London - 8 September 1980 - BBC Genome
  2. ^ The Times (London, England), "Television and Radio" Saturday 15 July 1985
  3. ^ The Times (London, England), Monday, 24 November 1986
  4. ^ The Times (London, England), Monday, 4 January 1988; pg. 17
  5. ^ Doctor Knows Best at the Internet Movie Database
  6. ^ Bobby Moore & Me at the Internet Movie Database
  7. ^ "Julia statement". Watchdog. BBC. 15 April 2009. Archived from the original on 23 April 2009. 
  8. ^ "Asian journalist Anita Rani replaces Julia Bradbury as Watchdog host" Thaindian News, 3 March 2009
  9. ^ Anne Robinson returns to Watchdog Digital Spy, 10 May 2009
  10. ^ [1] Watchdog on Twitter
  11. ^ [2] Watchdog on Twitter
  12. ^ "Anne Robinson to step down from Watchdog". BBC Media Centre. Retrieved 10 September 2015. 
  13. ^ "25 years of Watchdog". 7 January 2005. Retrieved 30 March 2015. 
  14. ^ "The Plugs and Sockets etc. (Safety) Regulations 1994". HM Government. Retrieved 30 March 2015. 
  15. ^ "A Bloody Dust Up". Promo Magazine. 1 October 2005. Archived from the original on 5 December 2008. all England agrees that Hoover's Free Travel Offer was the worst promotion in British history 
  16. ^ "TV auction channel shuts up shop". BBC News. 23 November 2004. Retrieved 30 March 2015. 
  17. ^ "TV show tracks down Auction World boss". Hertfordshire Mercury. 22 April 2005. Retrieved 30 March 2015. 
  18. ^ Bust company sacks workers by text BBC News, 30 May 2003
  19. ^ Customs seize £66k from Miller as he boards China flight Oldham Advertiser Archived 6 December 2006 at the Wayback Machine
  20. ^ a b "BBC Rogue Traders' Dan Penteado jailed for benefit fraud". BBC. 12 July 2012. Retrieved 4 June 2015. 

External links[edit]