This is the eleventh series of Dragon’s Den. No show should ever see an eleventh series. By the time a programme is in double figures it’s not just tired it’s pretty much dead. But hey, Dragon’s Den has got a lift now, to replace the old, antiquated stairs, and, also, two new dragons, so maybe it will be fresh and rejuvenated. Let’s see.
The episode begins with emaciated goblin Evan Davis wandering a disused warehouse that is actually a set in the BBC’s MediaCity complex. He gives some dramatic narration over footage of the dragons looking severe. They must feel like utter tits sometimes, glowering at the camera, fake money piled up on their tables, pretending they’re in a warehouse.
The first entrepreneurs are two women with a fake tanning product that makes you look thin, introduced by three semi-naked women and a dance routine. Peter thinks the middle one looks like a Lucozade lozenge. I sure do like it when a rich, white male insults a woman’s looks on television. Great fun. The tanning product claims it removes cellulite, which new dragon Kelly points out is bullshit. If they’re going to just make stuff up, they should have just claimed it makes you shit gold.
A whole bunch of dragons make offers, and the women bring in a third guy, a fellow shareholder. I think this is probably a new ‘feature’ for the show – bringing in help – because in previous series if someone did this the dragons would be fucking outraged; ‘A new person! What the fuck is this?! I’m out.’
The women pick the newest dragons to invest with, and the next contestant arrives with a picnic hamper for the rich. All the dragons pretend they’re not in that social class, especially Duncan because he thinks he’s still a Glaswegian – he isn’t; he lives in a gated community in Durham.
Next up a husband and wife team with weird accents who introduce their toy company with a god awful mime. The husband looks like a watchmaker. Or a pawnbroker. Or a lawyer. If you see what I mean (I’m being racist). Duncan says their product is rubbish, because he likes to be a dick sometimes. Deborah basically says the same thing, but in a more reasonable way, which is somehow more annoying. She’s like a really strict teacher who tells you off for wasting your ability.
Two fast food entrepreneurs follow the toymakers – who don’t get an investment. One of them is well spoken and the other says things like ‘wrap eet oop.’ Turns out he’s the top guy though, and knows his shit. Deborah asks why their business will be able to conquer this market and the guy gives a really verbose, rambling response. It often seems like a really awkward job interview, Dragon’s Den, with awful answers to straightforward questions: ‘What colour is the sky?’ ‘Well, I’ve always thought that the sky is, em, like, a very commanding, in fact, to be honest, genuinely commanding, colour of blue. Em. So…uh, blue…ish?’
They don’t get an investment, because they asked for an absurd amount of money. They head into the new lift, which has some cameras in it to capture the awkward small talk of failed business people. This is followed by a short ludicrous pitch from an arrogant dick with a ponytail who named his long water bottle after himself. It’s made an £80,000 loss so far. No problem; this guy’s got the massive ego to take such a hit. And then another five, as every dragon lays into him.
Lastly, we have Ross. Oh boy. Looking like someone who permanently needs a hug, Ross explains his desire for an alternative to pasta. An anti-pasta, if you will. I’m not a diet guy, but as far as I can tell, Ross’ product is pasta but it doesn’t have a lot of stuff in it and it looks inedible.
Ross gives a demonstration which is supposed to last two minutes but takes longer. ‘Can you hurry up,’ Peter says, taking on the dick role from Duncan. He’s having none of it though and tells Peter to leave Ross alone.
Ross says his product is gluten-free but Kelly disagrees. ‘If I have gluten my fingers swell up,’ she says. Missed an opportunity for a visual demonstration there. Theo Paphitis was always into visual demonstrations. Come on Kelly, if you want to be as good as Theo you need to risk a finger or two.
All the dragons start laying into Ross. His food tastes ‘disturbing,’ apparently. He can’t work out his finances. Duncan tries to give him a break but he starts crying and retreats to the back of the room without a word and gets in the lift. The doors won’t close though. Jesus, close the fucking doors. Things are pretty awkward at this point.
Ross comes back and explains that his wife has just had her third miscarriage. Should this be on TV? Why is this on TV? Peter is refreshingly honest: ‘you’re not here for sympathy. What you’ve presented today tastes like baby food.’
And then he makes an offer. Wait, what? They all make offers in fact. So, hold on, the guy is shit at maths, shit at cooking, shit at comprehending his own paperwork and his product is awful, but everyone is investing? That’s the benefits of being rich I guess. And if you’re giving out free money it may as well be to a walking teddy bare. Ross decides to go with Peter, and gives him a hug around the waste. Man, this guy is adorable.
And that’s the end of the show, barring a concluding speech from Evan Davis, pacing around a giant metal gear in his imaginary warehouse of broken dreams.
Dragon’s Den is packed full of artificial drama and ridiculous nonsense. It’s also the type of show people watch through a smug veil of irony, as if we are all, individually, the only ones laughing at the show whilst everyone else takes it seriously. But as Mitchell and Webb point out in their pisstake of Apprentice viewers, we all show up in the ratings the same.
It can be enjoyable nonsense Dragon’s Den, but keep in mind that your support of this tired and formulaic show is actively depriving potential new shows from BBC money. It won’t be long before desperate screenwriters are turning up on Dragon’s Den, asking for investment in their innovative drama and being told by Duncan to fuck off.