The last time I saw Dragon’s Den was when I heard that James Caan was joining and I tuned in excitedly, expecting a Hollywood legend to be shooting applicants down in a true Mafia style. After that bitter disappointment, I haven’t caught much of the show since, and still can only associate it with too many close ups of the mechanics of an elevator and that irritating Levi Roots ‘Reggae Reggae Sauce’ song.
I happened to find myself sitting in front of an episode last night as I was too lazy to find anything more active to do in the hour that I was waiting for Downton Abbey to start. I was surprised by how enthralled I became, to the point that I became concerned that, due to no ad breaks on the Beeb, I would have no window of opportunity for a much needed toilet break before the start of Downton. It turns out watching people’s dreams bursting mercilessly into flames can be entertaining, in a macabre sort of way.
The first joy was that the legend that is Duncan Bannatyne (I don’t know if I have ever mentioned this in a post before, but I find that forename incredibly strong and rugged) was still on the panel, alongside Peter Jones, Deborah Meaden, Chrissie Watts from Eastenders and Paul Sinha from The Chase. Or, as it later transpired, two folk going by the names Kelly Hoppen MBE and Piers Linney.
The second joy was that the X Factor style drawn out drama of proceedings, complete with tense instrumental music, remained an enjoyable fixture of a show which, when stripped down, is really just talking about accounting.
And the third joy was that some of the ideas that people genuinely thought would win them a bid from one of the world’s greatest entrepreneurs were as bafflingly awful as ever.
A stand out example of this from yesterday evening was a mother and son business pair who came armed with two unfortunate young girls, who will be bullied in the playground to come due to this child cruelty, dressed in bizarre outfits, which included heavy plastic glasses and a picnic blanket dress.
They were selling personalised creepy dolls, or as I viewed them, every stalker’s dream to have a plastic version of his crush in his home. The premise was to release so many varieties of doll that each combination of appearances (eye colour, hair, nose shape etc) would be counted for. So in my example it would be a chiselled jaw, eyes like glistening chipped diamonds and luscious locks of youthful hair. However, as quickly pointed out by a Dragon, it would be an impossible feat to feature every human appearance combination possible, let alone fit them all onto a shelf in a shop. The couple hit back with impressive figures that they had invested over £100k into the business, had a heavy bank loan to pay back and had a warehouse full of stock which only shifted three units per week. So, uh yeah, they won that round.
Moving on, we had a chap that claimed to have a shower pump that was 100 times smaller than its actual capacity but he couldn’t explain how. When Duncan Bannatyne posed the not unreasonable question over how he could make such a claim, the guy responded that it was down to physics. Which is like me going in there with a lump of mud, saying I could turn it into gold and then claiming it was magic. Which I tried, but didn’t get past the audition stage.
We also had a pair who were flogging non alcoholic juices for the gaping market of people who go to pubs but don’t like to drink (aka designated drivers and my Granny) They claimed that there was a massive call for soft drinks other than Coca Cola in bars and spas (err hello? J2O?) but this wasn’t enough to convince the Dragons, with Duncan Bannatyne dismissing them by claiming that the clientele that he knows to visit spas like to drink red wine, not raspberry juice. Sozzled in a Spa. The closest I got was the night I got arrested in the Spar shop after a few hours on the White Lightning.
What else was there of note? There was a genuinely good idea of an engagement ring designer who had developed software and products so that couples could hand design their own engagement ring to the finest detail. Kelly Hoppen remained adamant that this wasn’t very romantic (and judging by her stony demeanour, she knows her romance) so the poor chap was sent packing. Argos it is then.
Two strange looking, socially awkward men had developed an app to show you where people are crowding at so that you can plan your night out accordingly which will be used 5% for social purposes, 25% for stalking purposes and 70% to avoid seeing people when you brave the outside world. Little does he know that the British government have already developed something way more intricate to follow our every move.
And finally, Duncan Bannatyne spent some time sitting in a personalised Onesie while wearing sunglasses. This was easily the highlight of the episode.
Are you a Dragon’s Den fan? What would you invent? Who is your favourite Dragon? Let us know using the comments box below.
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Written By our Man In The North