Dear Dragons Den, (BBC1, Sundays @ 9pm)
I’m really glad to see you back, I wasn’t sure whether you would return or if you’d been merged with The Apprentice and the stinking, fetid remains dispatched to Channel 4 for use in Four Rooms, but here you are and a very welcome sight you are too. Please pass on my sincerest and warmest welcome to the new dragon Hilary Devey who, despite appearances, is bloody awesome.
I must admit that her being awesome was not my first thought upon seeing her. No, in all honesty my first thought was “They’ve replaced someone who occasionally tries to buy babies with someone who definitely eats them on a regular basis.” and whilst that still might very well be the case – I believe all the dragons to be beasts of the netherworld – she is far more interesting, intelligent and pleasant than her ‘she mistook Quentin Blake’s drawings in Roald Dahl’s The Witches for a clothing catalogue’ look would ever have you believe. I truly did judge this book by its cover, and I was wrong to do so. There should be a saying about how that’s wrong. I’m going to invent one now –
Do not try to ascertain the qualities of a work or an individual merely by virtue of their external appearance, for this will sometimes lead to an inaccurate conclusion.
Catchy don’t you think? I certainly don’t think it could have been put more succinctly or in a more memorable fashion. It’s accurate too, because on probably 50% of all occasions you can save yourself a lot of bother by judging people by how they look: If they look like they’re hiding an incredibly dark secret, like an urge to kill, then it’s probably best not to accept the offer of a lift; if they look like they have to wear a bib to eat and a nappy to bed then you’d do well to not make yourselves unelectable by making them your party leader; and if they appear to have a borderline personality and the propensity to jump into bed with anyone that says hello to them then you should probably trust that and not get into an 18 month relationship with them…
Okay, I’ve made this a bit awkward now. Maybe you’re friends with her, maybe you took her side, I don’t know, doesn’t matter. Pretend I never said anything. The point is that sometimes, roughly half the time, judging a book by its cover (some might call it instinct) is a useful timesaver, on other occasions it can leave you looking a proper tit – as it did with myself and Hilary.
So any way, how do you think you got on? Pretty well? I’d agree, it’s pretty much same old same old really isn’t it. Yeah, you’ve got a slightly jazzed up title sequence where all the Dragons are either:
a) Surveying all they own like a Middle Ages land baron, or
b) Contemplating suicide like a mid 80’s stockbroker
Either way it’s just as wanky as all the previous ones and will continue to feed us the same guff it’s been feeding us for years – Duncan Bannatyne proprietor of Health Clubs and the biggest misery factory in Scotland (and that’s really saying something), Peter Jones rich because of crap BT ads, playing tennis and being tall yada yada yada. We get it, they’re rich, they’re self-made – I think you’re labouring the point a little.
Then you’ve stuck with the peculiar Evan Davis hosting, which is fine, there’s nothing all that wrong with him, he just looks like he’s owned by one of the Dragons who keeps him locked away in a cellar, bereft of sunlight and feeding him just enough gruel to survive. Little else could explain his gaunt appearance or seemingly endless excitement at even the briefest moments of human interaction. Thankfully you seem to have done away with all those peculiar crash zooms that accompanied him (I think the proprietor of those now works on Neighbours) and replaced them with simpler cutaways that are a lot easier to take.
Staying with Evan for a minute, can you please ask him (or indeed order him) to stop asking me questions that I couldn’t possibly hope to answer: “Will that seeTheo make an offer?” I haven’t got the foggiest idea Evan, nor could I hope to have. I could hazard a guess, but what would be the point, it would only distract me from enjoying the show. Surely that’s the sort of question I – someone who wasn’t at all involved in the process of making the show – should be asking you, the host? It’s a nonsense. Whilst we’re at it, please tell him to buy a dictionary. This week he chose to describe the chairs as “infamous”. Now, I’m no expert on chairs, but I think
I’d remember if a chair, or any item of furniture for that matter, had been found guilty of genocide, or even a lesser charge that might lead to it gaining ‘infamy’. I understand that part of Evans job is to use some ludicrous hyperbole to ratchet up the tension and add some fabricated jeopardy, and that’s fine when he’s trying to convince us that Geoff who makes kids toys out of dog shit might have a chance of getting investment, but when he’s misappropriating the English language to lend the props some social weight that they simply haven’t earned? Well that gets my goat sir. The only ‘infamous’ chair I can even think of is man Mao, and that’s not even a chair, but a Chinese dictator who uses chair as the first part of his name. Don’t do it again.
Everything else seems the same, to me at least, you’ve still got the same mix of brilliant entrepreneurs with excellent scalable businesses followed by blundering incompetents who, in less prosperous times, would have proudly worn the floppy hat and giddy face of the village idiot, larking around for pennies rather than proposing deals for tens of thousands.
Likewise you’ve still got the cruel rules that mean no notes can be taken in to help with your pitch (just like in the real world!) leading to situations like that poor cow who went on first. By God that was awkward – got to love it though, it may be false jeopardy, but it’s helped make you what you are. You’re still a very entertaining show, frustrating at times when you see the Dragons gang rape a brilliant business to get an extra 5% equity from the poor bastard who’s put their heart and soul (and savings) in to it for ten years, but you’ve stuck to another old adage – “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” – and that’s one that the likes of Simon Cowell must have wished he’d paid attention to.
As for the Dragons? Well, that’s a whole different letter – I believe I’ve found an ancient manuscript that reveals the key to success with them. I’ll write next week with it.
In the meantime I’ve got stuff to be getting on with, and for that reason…
PS – I write Letters to Television Shows, I’d like £50,000 for 4% equity.
PPS – I’ve not made a profit, and don’t expect to.
PPPS – I just want some money. Thanks in advance.