Dragon's Den

Why are the dragons in Dragons’ Den dragons? Why not a lions’ den? (Indeed, do dragons even live in dens? It’s hard to check, what with them not existing and all.) As the BBC also rejected the original Japanese name of the show, Money Tigers, are we perhaps to infer that mere big cats can’t do justice to these kings of the boardroom jungle? Lions and tigers? They eat ’em for breakfast! Probably accompanied by pastries and a PowerPoint presentation.

The title sequence, meanwhile, features the dragons looking heroic against an erupting volcano, as Evan Davis talks of ‘new fire in the den’. It’s a bit like Game of Thrones, except instead of forging their reputation in blood and steel on the battlefield, they made it selling novelty greetings cards.

That’s Nick Jenkins, the founder of Moonpig (‘Mooooooonpiiiig’). He’s one of three new ‘dragons’ joining old-stagers Peter Jones and Deborah Meaden for this 13th series of the elevator pitch show, along with restaurateur Sarah Willingham and textiles tycoon Touker Suleyman, who is such a ready-made fit for Harry Enfield or Paul Whitehouse, I swear I’ve already seen them do him. (He even has a catchphrase, ‘Touker time’, which suggests a blissful unawareness of how things turned out for Chico.)

Among the hopefuls panning for gold this week was African snacks producer Chika, whose charm offensive included a troupe of twerking dancers. ‘Their bottoms are disconnected from their backs,” boggled Peter Jones. Later, he asked Chika herself to show him some moves – literally making her dance for her money. Reader, they did a deal.

Next up, ‘style-conscious Londoner’ Oliver, who described his men’s fashion range as passing the ‘pub test’ – the sort of clobber you can wear without your friends laughing at you. Forget the clothes, Oliver – I think you need to find better friends.

Simon from Sheffield had spent 15 years coming up with his big idea: lids for cement mixers. There were no takers for that, but Linus, who had a wizard’s beard and a topknot and did yoga in the lift on the way up, sparked a bidding war for a stake in his raw chocolate company. That’s everything you need to know about modern Britain right there.

TV extra:


Lookalikes is a ‘constructed reality’ show which, according to the opening disclaimer, means ‘some scenes have been produced for your entertainment’. The rest, presumably, are for educational purposes.

Set in ‘the leading celebrity lookalike agency in East Sussex’, it’s sporadically funny, thanks largely to Tim, a David Brent impersonator who really does work in an office selling packaging products. Unless that bit was just produced for our entertainment. Anyway, if you’ve ever wanted to see Gordon Ramsay go on a disastrous date with Linda Robson, this is the show for you.


Cake Bakers and Troublemakers

Lucy Worsley’s celebration of 100 years of the Women’s Institute was less jam and Jerusalem, more ‘sherry and shenanigans’, portraying the WI as a bunch revolutionary firebrands in sensible shoes. With founding members like Edith Rigby – a Lancastrian suffragette who was jailed for throwing a black pudding at an MP – and meetings featuring talks on everything ‘from fruit-bottling to Bolshevism’, it’s perhaps no surprise the WI developed a split personality – waving a placard with one hand while offering a slice of Victoria Sponge with the other. More power to ’em.

Published in Waitrose Weekend, July 23, 2015

(c) Waitrose Weekend