Dragons' Den



Evan Davis


The Dragons:
Duncan Bannatyne and Peter Jones (series 1-), Simon Woodroffe (series 1), Rachel Elnaugh (series 1 & 2), Doug Richard (series 1 & 2), Theo Paphitis (series 2-), Richard Farleigh (series 3-4), Deborah Meaden (series 3-), James Caan (series 5-).


BBC Manchester / Sony Pictures International for BBC2, 4 January 2005 to present


In this ever-changing world in which we live in, it's sometimes hard to know whether a programme is a game show or not. But when the presenter gives interviews in which he says (and I quote), "It isn't a game show", then that's a dead giveaway. (If the BBC claimed that the Shipping Forecast wasn't a game show, we probably wouldn't believe them. Good job it's not on telly.)

Anyway, before this launched we described it as "a cross between Best Inventions and The E-millionaire Show", and now that we've actually seen it, that description pretty much stands. The format is simplicity itself: five venture capitalists (the "dragons" of the title) are placed in a room, would-be entrepreneurs pitch their ideas, and if the dragons are impressed, they may make an investment. Or not. That's pretty much all there is to it, but it works.

Image:Dragons den original cast.jpgThe original cast: host Evan Davis (centre) with, l-r: Peter Jones, Doug Richard, Rachel Elnaugh, Duncan Bannatyne, Simon Woodroffe

The one stipulation the producers make is that each entrepreneur must ask for a specific sum of money from the dragons, and must get at least that amount, or no investment can be made. Exactly what is being offered in return for this money, however, (usually a percentage stake in the budding company,) is open to negotiations; and if no single dragon is willing to part with the entire requested sum, they can split the deal between them. Amusingly, the dragons sit with large stacks of cash on the tables between them as the pitches are being made - although it's strictly a prop, and no cash is seen to be handed over (after all, the dragons don't have the luxury of commercial breaks in which to count out the cash).

It's a straightforward idea, executed without frills, interesting to watch and it may well change a few people's lives. Can't say fairer than that, and I'm afraid the stigma of being a g*** s*** is just something they'll have to live with. Not that it's held them back in any way - within a year, the show was being affectionately lampooned on sketch shows such as Dead Ringers, and by 2008 BBC Director-General Mark Byford cited Dragons' Den as an example of how one programme can transform the reputation of a broadcasting centre - in this case, the Manchester Entertainment department.


A 2008 spin-off series, Dragon's Den: The Dragons' Stories (a.k.a Dragon's Den: Outside The Den) combined profiles of the dragons with behind-the-scenes footage and updates on their investments. Lesley Sharp narrated the series, though Evan Davis appeared as a talking head.


"I'm out."

Theme music

Original theme credited to John Watt. Variations used during the programme arranged by Mike Westergaard.


Based on the Japanese format Money no Tora ("Money Tiger").


Dragons' Den: Success from Pitch to Profit (hardback book)

Dragons' Den - Series 1 (R2 DVD)

Dragons' Den - Series 2 (R2 DVD)

Web Links

BBC Dragons' Den site


A flyer advertising the show


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