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Monday, 1 August 2011

Dragon's Den: The Business Inspector & 'Secret Millionaire' breathes new, fiery life into the Den



I have to admit, after the end of the Lord Sugar-a-thon that concluded with my favourite, Tom, winning and the recent demise of Four Rooms, I was heartbroken. What would come next to fill my 'must-see' programming? Imagine my elation when I learned Dragon's Den was back on the tellybox! Eagerly awaiting the start of the show, I turned to Twitter to see what was going on. There was talk of a drinking game. There were too many rules to concentrate on, watch the telly and take notes, so I decided to take a drink whenever a Dragon said 'I'm out'. This could be risky.
Hilary Devey

Dragon's Den was in danger of becoming second fiddle to The Apprentice and with a wealth of business programming filling our screens, it needed to pull something out of the bag. Lucky then, that Hilary Devy is on hand to stoke the fires of inspiration when meeting with the newest slew of entrepreneurs asking for a bit of the self-made wealth she has amassed; her worth subtly conveyed by the piles of cash before her.

​Within just a few minutes, this firebrand was trending on twitter but, to my consternation, it wasn't her straight-talking, constructive commentary, cojones or eccentric turn of phrase that were causing the most interest amongst the Twitterati, but her appearance and dress sense. Well, rest assured, this review won't be casting any aspersions. Trial by Twitter can't be nice, especially when @'d at you.

Hilary Devy is the very definition of the newest replacement for cool; 'fierce', which urban dictionary describes as "being bold, displaying chutzpah, especially relating to fashion, clothes, hair or makeup" and, no doubt, will soon be a gay icon. But it wasn't her vast, Alexis-from-Dynasty (returning soon to a screen near you) shoulder pads that impressed me most, but her bewildering knowledge of websites, asking Present Club website entrepreneur Georgette, 'What language is it [website] written in?'. The poor woman, asking for £60k for a 10% stake in her business, clearly struggled not to reply, weakly, "English?", after having already fluffed her pitch and dried less than a minute in.

The Present Club took some explaining and it wasn't until several questions later that I deduced her idea was Amazon Wish List for kids, where you could 'pledge' money towards a big ticket item.

Duncan Bannatyne, the most traditional and conservative of the Dragons, hated the idea and declared himself out (drink!), bemoaning this sad indication of modern times and the fact that kids would no longer be able to unwrap plastic Kinder Egg surprise toys at their birthday party, their bits strewn around amongst wrapping paper, consigned to rattle disconcertingly around the bagless Dysons now ubiquitous across the land (other vaccuum cleaners are available).

However, Georgette wasn't overly flummoxed by this objection or her previously 'shambolic' pitch. After revealing her past as the youngest female yellowcoat at London's stock exchange and flinging out terms like 'empowering', 'drop shipping' and 'direct dispatch', this city girl got what she came for. Georgette eventually secured her deal with Theo and Peter for an extra 10% equity and earned encouraging praise from Hilary, who clearly related to Georgette's fight as a single mother making her way in business.

Next up was a man who'd invented the ultimate in toilet accessories: a rubber ball which, when placed into a toilet, prevents splash-back from, well, you get the picture. The less said about the questions that this item evokes, the better. ​

All dragons out. Drink x 5....

Next up was the biggest load of woo since... the last pitch. Well, maybe that's a typo. Let's just say that it was the worst, most unscientific pitch I think I've ever seen on Dragon's Den which, thankfully, didn't go unnoticed by the Dragons.

Miruji Health and Beauty brought their 'Sit & Slim'/'Sit & Quit' [smoking] system - a chair with headphones. This was presented as a 'cure for obesity' without a glimmer of irony since their customers would be sitting in a comfy massage chair, listening to 'mind-coaching' audio for their 'treatment'. Apparently 500 suckers (customers -Ed) were benefiting from this system, bringing in a turnover of £195k (£145k of profit). After a bit of grilling from the Dragons and some exasperated facepalm moments, it becomes clear that the main man at Miruji Health and Beauty worked his sums out on the back of one of 'Sit & Get Ripped Off''s' customer's discarded fag packets.

Hilary, taking a drag from her own pack of Woodbines, didn't pull her punches and declared this businessman 'ridiculous', coming out with the quote of the episode: 'you'd make my foot itch, mate' and beseeching him to come back down to 'Planet Earth'.

More unsuccessful ideas included a deluded couple who wanted investment to fund their human cannonball act. Peter declared Rodrigo Perez 'talented' for achieving half the world record for the furthest a human has been propelled into the air (around 60m) and Hilary came out with a brilliant, unintential pun, asking 'what are your projected figures?'.

There was also 'gloven', an oven glove with fingers, enabling better in-oven dexterity: a necessity, with all that fancy fingerwork everyone does inside hot cabinets. Duncan wasn't convinced and insisted it was a stupid name given that it wasn't a cross between a glove and oven. It needed to be more like a spork.

The episode ended with no deals for Hilary who is, let's not forget, an unknown quantity, in the absence of James Caan, and a great deal for the Solar Panel entrepreneur who had all five investors clamouring to make a deal.

So, an ending on a high but with no final drink to finish off. I bow down to thee, Hilary Devy, for you are more than worthy of your new title of Dragon: the fiercest one yet!

Total drink tally this episode: 17 (disclaimer: may be incorrect due to drunkenness)

More on the Show
You can follow Dragon's Den and all the Dragons here:
@BBCDragonsDen | @DuncanBannatyne | @dragonjones | @theopaphitis | @hilarydevey | @debmeaden
More on Hilary
Record Ratings for Den Return
Posted by Tannice for thecustardtv.blogspot.com

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