Here be diversity Dragons... but not the right ones

November 24, 2016 23:26

Watching Dragon's Den has always been an uncomfortable experience for me. I naturally admire those with the courage to stand up in front of the dragons and pitch their hearts out. But there is always a sense that one is watching a car crashing in ultra slow motion. It seems the combination of the cameras and the unrelenting scrutiny of four hardened business people comes together to make these putative entrepreneurs forget everything they ever knew about their own products as well as temporarily losing the power of speech.

When I emerge from behind the sofa I, like the dragons, scream in frustration at the brave souls struggling to make salient points about patented loo seats and fancy luggage storage systems. Would it be so bad for them to have a few accurate figures handy? And do they really think that 10 per cent of their company is worth £100,000? In fact, one of the most unifying moments of modern TV is the sound of millions of people around the country shouting "aahm oot" in unison with Duncan Ballantyne.

Alas, Mr Ballantyne, the straight-talking Scot, has gone, as have a couple of others, including Kelly Hoppen - and this takes me to my point. Looking at the somewhat uninspiring list of their replacements I detect something missing from the Den, especially now that the golden-haired Ms Hoppen has hopped it. Where are the Jewish dragons? After all, we have some of the most opinionated business people in the country - people who not only have made it themselves but who aren't afraid to share their ideas about commerce with others. So, why are none of them on Dragon's Den?

Looking at the make-up of the panel for series 13, which has just been announced, one can see that the BBC is looking to tick various boxes. The diversity committee at the BBC clearly believes we still need a very tall bloke (particularly as it has carelessly mislaid Jeremy Clarkson) so Peter Jones has kept his job as has Deborah Meaden on the grounds that she is both intimidating and a woman. But that still leaves a chair for a small ethnic bloke - the one vacated by Theo Paphitis in 2012. Step forward Lord Sugar, I say. He has attained national-treasure status by advising young hopefuls just how unsuited they are to a business career. There must be plenty like him in the NW London hinterland.

However, the BBC diversity committee have gone in a different direction. Clearly someone has pointed out that, seeing as the show has featured a Greek Cypriot dragon, it is incumbent on the corporation to pre-empt the riots on the streets of Famagusta by appointing a Turkish Cypriot. So they have gone with Touker Suleyman - a man from the other part of Cyprus who works in the shmatter trade and has made millions without ever becoming particularly well known.

For the record, the other two new dragons are Nick Jenkins, the founder of online greetings card company (yes, a company named after treif) and Sarah Willingham, the creator of the Bombay Bicycle Club restaurant chain (even more treif!).

So what happened when the BBC diversity committee sat down over their fair trade coffee to consider Jewish candidates? Well, Lord Sugar already has his own show so maybe they decided that the Jewish quota was already full. They might well have considered the claims of Richard Desmond but dismissed him on the grounds that, given his sweary proclivities, the show might have to go out after midnight. Then there is Gerald Ronson (ditto), Roman Abramovich (never goes on TV - no one knows if he even speaks English) Philip Green (the commute from Monaco could be tricky) and David Gold (lovely bloke but made his fortune in top-shelf magazines). So it looks as if we will have to wait for the next generation of Jews to challenge for the ethnic slot but that does not mean that there are no available opportunities for Jews to present winning ideas to the dragons.

And, inspired by the most famous pitch of them all by Levi Roots, I think I might have come up with the next big thing in tangy sauces - a chrein-based marinade called Klezmer Klezmer. Anyone fancy 10 per cent of my company for a £100,000 investment?

November 24, 2016 23:26

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