Dragons’ den or lions’ pit?


DRAGONS’ DEN, a BBC reality television programme about entrepreneurs pitching their innovations to secure investment finance from a panel of venture capitalists, has just returned for its eighth series.

But, hang on! It’s not about innovation at all – but humiliation. Coming along in the wake of the Big Brother reality TV era when there was perceived to be a market for mockery, it’s aimed at those who need someone to look down on. In fact, we should never lose sight of this issue: the premise of the programme isn’t about inventions or entrepreneurs but about reality TV-style “light entertainment”. Haven’t you noticed that a lot of TV is now about negativity? It started with Big Brother, then The Weakest Link, and wormed its way across all genres. If people didn’t want it, they wouldn’t make it.


We play along with the concept, and are invited to share the Dragons’ contempt, too, along with all their put-downs and snarls. “The worst invention ever to be brought into Dragons’ Den,” from the Scottish One. “That way out!”, from the One In Specs. “I know more about this business than you do!” from the Blonde One who never invests. “I’m the clever, successful dragon”, from the Tall One. Silence from the Bearded One, suggestively stroking his piles of cash. However, we are always allowed a feel-good finale to each episode. Someone with a half-decent idea is blessed by the Famous Five who, let’s not forget, are coolly planning to make a healthy profit.
But what the country is crying out for is… inventions! Real inventions like bungee cords for plates, cups and saucers. In fact, for anything breakable. Thus stopping the constant replacement of my crockery by my Mum. (Name withheld to protect the guilty.) This invention would be called ‘Clumsy Mumsy’ and, if you’re reading this, Dragons, I’m happy to negotiate!

But instead of inventions in this first episode, what did we get? Someone who wanted money to put on a Bollywood show, for one. As though that’s going to help the country emerge from recession.  Another with flashing road signs. And it says it all that the best idea was a new recipe for a frozen pudding.

Which reminds me of some of the programme’s daftest inventions. From the ugly, strapped-on rollerskates for kneeling jobs and edible greetings cards for dogs to the sideways pedalling bike and plastic caps for protecting cucumber ends. “Q-Tops” – the condom for cucumbers.

Dragons’ Den is really just Britain’s Got Talent for people in suits. And any show that features people who make the rest of us look like Mensa stars can only be a good thing. But then, I only ever watch about one show per series so let me tell you where I am: I’m out!

Breaking Views By Nora Johnson

Nora Johnson´s novel, The De Clerambault Code (www.nora-johnson.com) available at Amazon. Profits to Cudeca

Photo Credit: Andy Fitzsimons



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