Tune in, switch off - Press play, watch the slay

7th August 2009 at 01:00
Scenting plunder, dragons became pussycats, all wanting a slice of the action. This was the real poker game. Who would make the first move?

My first questions to the five multi-millionaires in their lairs (Dragons' Den, BBC2) would be: "Tell me about the numbers. What's your financial stake in this TV programme? How much profit will you realise in the next three years? And are you offering the licence payer any equity in the business?"

The fun, of course, comes from their forensic torching of would-be entrepreneurs. These venture capitalists polish their scales but get first pick of the next best investments for themselves.

Theo Paphitis and Duncan Bannatyne, the fiercest fire-breathers, always tell us how hard they've worked to earn their money, even in their best-selling autobiographies. Each is worth more than Pounds 40 million; the piles of cash by their sides prove it.

Peter Jones and James Caan, on the other hand, are smoothy dragons with hearts. Deborah Meaden, though, wouldn't invest in a fairground candyfloss stall, even if sugar grew on trees. She's just a window shopper. It was the dispiriting experience of working for idea-blocking senior colleagues like her that motivated me to become my own boss.

Evan Davis, voice-over to the dramatic music, provides platitudes, just in case we're too thick to understand what's going on. He'd be better doing plot prompts for The Wire.

JJ Hussan, "poker player not gambler", wanted an investment in his gaming business. So what was it exactly? He didn't want to declare his hand. But when the chips were finally down we saw that JJ was just bluff and bluster - a great poker player. Theo claimed to be a calculated-risk-taker rather than a gambler. It came as no surprise that Deborah pulled out early.

Dragon-slaying Sharon had a gadget to get cables easily threaded through house walls. Scenting plunder, dragons became pussycats, all wanting a slice of the action. This was the real poker game. Who would make the first move?

"You're fabulous," leered lizard-like Theo, ready to invest his children's hard-won inheritance, or at least a few thousand quid from his many millions, because "you deserve it". What altruism.

Would Meaden break the habit of a den-time and invest? She offered, but with such a miserly amount, she was left gazing in at the window. And the product was so good, the dragons were the ones who had to confer on the deal, breathing fire and bank notes in secret. Sharon and her gadget were swallowed up before you could snort "Treasure trove".

Elsewhere on the BBC, two other beasts, Cheshire cat, David Cameron, and cowardly lion, Alistair Darling, were lured on to the end of season Andrew Marr Show (BBC1).

Marr was bursting to tell us his news that women are growing more beautiful with each generation. It's a fact. So that means, as the dragons would say, I'm out

Ray Tarleton is principal at South Dartmoor Community College in Ashburton, Devon.

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