In Dragons’ Den, rich adults treat other adults like children. I join in
Patrick Freyne: Dragons’ Den is still on, a contender for longest running show on TV
Dragons’ Den, BBC, series 18: Dragons: Touker Suleyman, Sara Davies, Deborah Meaden, Tej Lalvani, andPeter Jones. Photograph: BBC, Andrew Farrington
Dragons’ Den is still on (Thursday, BBC1) which makes it a contender for longest running show on television after One Man and His Dog, Grey’s Anatomy and The Coronavirus.
Disappointingly for some people it’s not a David Attenborough documentary about the lives of actual reptiles but a fantasy show about mythical beings called “investors”. I’m told these are the very last five of them. There’s not been much call for them since humankind sat down with a virus and decided to return to centrally controlled economies run by the big state. Scientists had no idea viruses had an ideology but it turns out that, like most human disasters, they require Keynesianism.
And so these five seasoned investors have holed up in a big rundown-looking warehouse, sitting all in a row like hens incubating eggs and facing in one direction, probably towards Wall Street, lamenting the world that is passing.
They each have a big pile of money on a table beside them. This is because millionaires are no fools and, much like Uncle Sean up at the junkyard, they don’t trust banks. I’m surprised they don’t insist on every transaction involving coins, to be honest, because paper money is a fad.
I imagine these dragons sleep in lumpy mattresses above a mound of cash and walk around the place pushing their millions in wheelbarrows, only stopping for the occasional money fight (back during the boom I believe this occurred during the closing credits).
You never actually see the transfer of money from investor to entrepreneur in Dragons’ Den but I assume it involves the dragons stuffing the bank notes into the entrepreneur’s clothes while the entrepreneurs beg them just to use Revolut.
The dragons are part of the great pointless productivity experiment. They luxuriate in the creation of unnecessary middlemen and the pointless tweaking of pre-existing inventions to help manufacture false scarcity and generate empty desire. It is the way of our people. It’s this or just doing an eight billion way split of resources so we can go hang out at the motorway bridge spitting on trucks (or whatever you’d like to do yourself).
You can even see from their rentier class titles – “crafting queen”, “business titan”, “serial entrepreneur” and “supplement supremo” – that they are products of this great abstraction. Real jobs are things children play at being – gardaí, nurses, television reviewers. No child ever goes, “look daddy, I’m being a supplement supremo!” and if they did do that, you’d definitely get them checked out, or join a waiting list to get them checked out in a few years.
The credit sequence of Dragons’ Den features things breaking and going on fire to demonstrate, presumably, Schumpeterian creative destruction. And in the midst of it all, each of the dragons’ big wealthy heads looms from the screen to remind us of how well things went for the people of Easter Island, a culture that also loved a big looming head.
In each episode various dreamers are wheeled before the dragons and the dragons get to judge them. This means we get to see grown adults being made to do sums and spoken to by richer adults as though they’re children. Sitting at home, I join in. “Why did you think you could improve your lot, you fool?!” I shout.
In Dragons’ Den nobody comes in with a perpetual motion machine, sentient robot or better vaccine. In this week’s episode we meet someone who wants to post tea bags and a man who has invented a sunshade for glasses. There’s also a nice woman who has developed a mail-out art kit and would possibly be happier as an artist than an entrepreneur.
The final inventors, a nurse and her partner, have devised a handcream for the overly washed hands of frontline workers. That actually seems like a good idea. They’re even planning for some of the money to go back towards those workers themselves. This gesture melts the dragons’ black hearts and all of them bid for a cut of the profit and a cut of the philanthropy.
The music amps up and the cameras zoom hyperactively in and out. The dragons glare at one another with their big suspicious heads as they speak their love language of percentages and gross profits and dividends.
My favourite dragon is Peter because he is one of the longest serving dragons and he looks like a stretched child or a jowly boy. He is grumpy and ancient and has seen too much. He is, in fact, late stage capitalism incarnate and I would watch him closely for signs of where this is all going if I were you.
This is My House (Wednesday, BBC1) is a competition in which Stacey Dooley challenges four celebrities and a guest celebrity to guess which of four strangers is telling the truth about owning a house. The answer to this question is easy if the strangers are all under 40. It’s, “None of them, because there has been a generational transfer of wealth from young to old built around a real estate Ponzi scheme”.
However, we’re assured that the owner of the house is in the bunch, and working out which one it is is surprisingly compelling, property ownership being a prerequisite condition for voting in Tory Britain.
This week we watch as four men who all claim to be called Michael discuss their history with both a property in Hertfordshire that dates from the 16th century and a woman named Rachel who dates from the 20th. Then celebrities, including real barrister and pretend judge Rob Rinder, humorous dance wonk Bill Bailey and unsecured female/Loose Woman Judi Love, try to work out which of them is the real Michael.
This is My House is completely ridiculous. It’s a lying competition judged by famous people but it does allow Dooley to say the sentence: “All the Michaels have been gathered in the kitchen in Hitchin. ” And that isn’t nothing. That sentence is poetry and quite possibly a business plan. “All the Michaels have been gathered in the kitchen in Hitchin,” I would like to say slowly and clearly to the Dragons of the Den. And then they would surely stuff my clothes with money. That is my dream.