Is Dragons' Den inspirational or humiliation in sharp suits?
Is Dragons’ Den an inspirational business show, or is it just ritual humiliation in sharp suits (in most cases without the crash helmets. Most cases!).
Dragons’ Den actually originated in Japan, the land of Takeshi's Castle, a show whose format set the bar for more recent shows such as Wipeout.
It was first broadcast there in 2001 under the name Money Tigers, but first broadcast in the UK in January 2005. It is the UK format that has spread across the rest of the world.
But now entering its eighth series, has the Dragons’ Den programme changed, not in format or style, but in the minds of those viewing the programme?
There was a time when the Peter, Duncan, Theo, Deborah and James (et al) by their mere presence and associated back-story would generate the kind of inspirational feelings that made the dream of running a successful business a reality.
Even those entering the den sparked the 'I could do that' feel, yet there were times in the first episode of the new series that you got the impression that 'good for TV' had taken over. It almost lifted a veil.
The dragons, because of what they've achieved, will always be an inspiration as individuals, that isn't in question. What is though is this, does the format create inspirational feelings to go out and start a business?
Sadly as a long time fan of the show I fear not.
What we are left with is ritual humiliation on a par with watching Japanese gameshow contestants being pummelled by massive padded swings. Sometimes it is eye-wateringly hilarious, and other times a strong feeling of pity just pervades everything. A few forgotten numbers here or there and that's all that is required for the humiliation to begin.
Big Brother is ending because we've tired of watching people putting themselves up for similar humiliation, so is it time for a change in format or even putting the dragons back in their respective castles?
There was an exception to this general feeling that has been gathering momentum over the last few episodes. Kirsty Henshaw gave a great demonstration on just how to inspire anyone to start a business. Taking two (and a half) jobs to pursue her dream, fantastic. A real inspiration, especially to women of all ages, much more so than any WAG or TV star.
But Kirsty's fantastic success was slightly tinged with a fear for me, that we are about to embark on a Dragons’ Den series with more 'journeys' and weepy stories than inspirational stories.
Kirsty and her story was the perfect balance, and perhaps began to restore some of the balance between inspiration and humiliation!
Simon Brooke, entrepreneur, investor and champion of young enterprise.