Recession or not, here be dragons on RTÉ


DRAGONS’ DEN is a TV show in which capital is put into risky businesses in the hope that they will survive. But that’s enough about the show’s sponsors Bank of Ireland.

As it happens, the Irish version of the internationally-successful marriage of entrepreneurship and entertainment arrives on television when it might be easier to get money by risking humiliation from five millionaires than it would be from a bank.

The format thrives on the sight of budding businesses trying to tempt five “dragons” to invest their own money in the idea. Tonight, on RTÉ One at 10.15pm, viewers will see several ideas – including a cash-cleaning device and a toasted sandwich vending machine – get a grilling.

Although the Irish version is almost identical to that already familiar through British television, from some of its ideas to that peculiarly local pronunciation of the word “entroppiner” it will bring an undoubtedly Irish twist.“I think there’s a charm and humour to it that you don’t get in other versions,” said Seán Gallagher, a successful businessman and one of the dragons.

At a screening in Dublin yesterday, he laughed, cheered and jeered along with the other millionaires: Black Tie’s Niall O’Farrell; founder Sarah Newman; media and hospitality entrepreneur Gavin Duffy; and Bobby Kerr of the coffee chain Insomnia.

Mr Gallagher said he wasn’t concerned that the economic climate might have taken the wind from the show’s sails. “No, I don’t see it like that. We look at the value of the idea and even if the economy’s struggling, if it’s a good product, and there’s demand for it, then a business will be solid and viable in good or bad times.”

During the course of two weeks of filming the dragons heard almost 100 ideas.