Dragon's Den (2018)

Hey, guess what? Dragon’s Den’s back! Yay! (Sound of world’s most sarcastic party blower.) 

I know what you’re thinking: Surely that’s not still going? Didn’t it disappear around the same time as Fame Academy and ‘Tom from MySpace’?

But no, here it is, bowling merrily into its sixteenth series. And I see they’re still insisting on depicting the ‘dragons’ as fearsome mythical beasts – complete with dramatic, fire and brimstone titles and theme music – rather than a bunch of people who sell vitamin supplements and barbecue sauce for a living. Hardly Game of Thrones, is it?

But just as I was resigning myself to the TV equivalent of a PowerPoint presentation, the crafty producers wheeled on the first hopeful. Or, more accurately, he walked on, wheeling a dead body, from which he proceeded to produce several major organs, like the world’s most macabre party magician.

The corpse, fortunately, was fake, but the organs were real (albeit pig), and it turned out 29-year-old entrepreneur Sam already has a booming business in ‘dinner and dissection’ experiences, where paying customers enjoy a two-course meal followed by the chance to ‘practise surgery’. Nom nom.

Next up, Israeli inventor Ziv’s cocky attitude got Peter Jones so wound up he went the full headmaster, tearing a strip off him for having his hands in his pockets and demanding: ‘Is that all you’ve got to say?’ Thank goodness he wasn’t chewing as well.

When singer-songwriter Matt rocked up to try to flog his hire-a-musician app, it all went a bit X Factor, with Deborah Meaden giving us her Gloria Gaynor (‘Go, walk out the door!’) and Tej Lalvani grabbing a guitar and singing Wonderwall like a drunk dad at a wedding. 

But they saved the best ‘til last as Rupesh, who had arrived from India with £600 and ‘a pocketful of dreams’, and his wife Alex persuaded Peter Jones to join their fledgling iced milk tea business, and the happy trio left together on a tuk tuk.

By which point, I’d remembered that Dragon’s Den is actually pretty great, isn’t it? Maybe it’s time I gave MySpace another go as well.

TV extra:


Bollywood: The World’s Biggest Film Industry

‘There are two religions in our country – cricket and films’ Bollywood superstar Anil Kapoor told Anita Rani in this joyful, vivid celebration of India’s celluloid dream factory. Mixing comedy, action, history and romance with lavish song-and-dance routines, Bollywood doesn’t exactly do Ken Loach-style realism; in a country where 180 million people live in poverty, it’s all about escapism. Or, as one child extra rather beautifully put it: ‘A movie without songs is like a tree without leaves’.


The Ultimate Matchmaker

First Dates meets Made in Chelsea in this ‘constructed reality’ fluff about a posh dating agency run by so-called ‘Sloane Arranger’ Lara Asprey. Her office is basically W1A’s Perfect Curve made flesh (sample quote: ‘She’s absolutely gorgeous and she’s a polo champion!’), while the actual dates were full of people using the word ‘banter’ un-ironically and saying things like ‘hashtag pick me’. In other words, everyone in it is comically awful and entitled, but I guess that’s the point. 

Published in Waitrose Weekend, August 16, 2018

(c) Waitrose Weekend