Charlie Brooker, on his excellent You Have Been Watching, asked why it is that Dragon’s Den is so popular. This is a question I’ve asked myself in the past week or so, albeit in a more personal form. I have outright pleaded with people why I can’t stop watching it. One response nearly got to the crux of the matter, or so I thought, when Sam replied that he, like me, enjoys a show that makes him angry.
That much is true, and there is something distinctly ball shrivelling about the Dragons themselves. They look like they’ve gorged on the cock of a smug beast, and now have a belly full of smugjaculate. I half expect Duncan Bannatyne to whip out his member and measurably compare it with the people before him, while Theo Paphitis has all the wit and charm of a boiled egg that has been forcibly inserted into the anus of a dead rat. The less said about Deborah Meaden the better, while the other one has the presence of a year old fart. That leaves Peter Jones, a man who could hump a lamppost and make the light feel sleazy.
But for all that, I finally figured out why I find it so appealing. It’s basic fundamental story telling. You could use a segment of it to teach narrative. A protagonist enters the Den, with a MacGuffin that drives the plot forward, wanting something that is difficult but not impossible to attain. Meanwhile, the antagonists offer up many obstacles for our hero to face, and if he overcomes them, the prize is the resolution. The Dragon’s also have a clear agenda; something they want that they may have to buy.
The details of the business are window dressing, because the viewer is more interested in the fundamental narrative elements that are already in place. And we also spend a lot of our time during the relentless and redundant voice overs wondering if Meaden is sitting there in a pool of her own piss.