Aussies reminisce over 'forgotten' reality show starring Jackie O and Ian Thorpe: 'Cringe'

The series was described as ‘the worst show in the history of the world’ when it aired on TV.

Undercover Angels stars Katie Underwood, Simone Kessell, Jackie 'O' Henderson and Ian Thorpe.
Fans are reminiscing over the short-lived reality show Undercover Angels starring Ian Thorpe and Jackie ‘O’ Henderson. Photo: Channel Seven

Before the age of dramatic home renovations and wild relationship experiments, Australian reality TV often featured odd combinations of celebrities attempting to perform a variety of random tasks. From Ricki-Lee Coulter and Cameron Daddo learning how to throw knives on Celebrity Circus to Denise Drysdale and Brynne Edelsten trying to master the art of diving on Celebrity Spash!, truly nothing was off limits in the early 2000s/‘10s.

Arguably one of the most chaotic shows in Australian reality TV history was Undercover Angels starring Olympic swimmer Ian Thorpe, radio queen Jackie ‘O’ Henderson, former Bardot member Katie Underwood, and actress Simone Kessell. The Channel Seven series was an imitation of Charlie’s Angels and featured Ian acting as a mentor for his ‘Angels’ as they performed good deeds for people in need.


While Undercover Angels received negative reviews upon its release in 2002 and was subsequently cancelled after its eleven-episode run, viewers have recently been reminiscing about the series in a popular Facebook group.

Undercover Angels stars Simone Kessell, Jackie 'O' Henderson, Katie Underwood and Ian Thorpe.
Social media users described the show as ‘cringe’, ‘mind-numbing’ and ‘a fever dream’. Photo: Channel Seven

One social media user posted a promo photo of the cast and called it “one of the dumbest shows in an era of dumb reality shows”, which received hundreds of comments from viewers sharing their thoughts.

“I’m cracking up - what an obscure memory that has been unlocked!” one person wrote, while another added, “I think I repressed this memory”.

“I LOVED THIS SHOW! One of many forgotten shows from my cranium,” a third remarked, followed by someone else who said, “Omg I forgot about this but oh wow so bad it was good”.

“In comparison to the s**t that’s on now it was a masterpiece,” a different user replied.

Others described the show as “cringe”, “mind-numbing” and “a fever dream”, with one viewer joking: “I believe that at the time, the government considered forcing people to watch this as an alternative punishment to giving criminals a custodial prison sentence.”

Undercover Angels' Ian Thorpe.
Undercover Angels was described as ‘the worst show in the history of the world’ when it aired on TV. Photo: Channel Seven

Jackie O spoke about Undercover Angels on The Kyle & Jackie O Show in 2018 and admitted that it “wasn’t great”.

“Thorpie was supposed to be Charlie and we were his Angels, we’d be like ‘Hiii Thorpie!’,” she reflected.

Her radio co-host Kyle Sandilands also slammed the series and said he “refused to watch it”, describing it as “the worst show ever made”.

“They didn’t even do anything!” he remarked. “They’d go around to someone’s yard and go, ‘Oh, it looks like his whipper snipping is way overdue, and then Jackie or some chick from Bardot would whipper snip his lawn.”


Kyle certainly wasn’t Undercover Angels’ only critic, with The Sydney Morning Herald writer Ruth Ritchie declaring it to be “the worst show in the history of the world” when it aired on TV.

Although it’s not available on any streaming services, episode one has been uploaded on YouTube if you want to relive the chaotic era of Australian reality TV.

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