Deborah Meaden: Dragon’s Den is one small aspect of me

The ballroom dancing Dragon on how she hasn't cooked a meal for 28 years and the time David Attenborough got her tongue-tied

What have you enjoyed recently?


Not a lot because the World Cup has taken over the television! My husband [Paul] and I fight over the remote control. I do enjoy a big tournament but I’d always choose Wimbledon over football.

What’s your guilty pleasure?

My husband shouts at me for it but I absolutely love Gogglebox. My brain is saying to me: “Why am I watching people watching television? Stop it, girl!”

How do you wake up?

People expect me to be an early riser but I’m a very slow starter. When I’m on the farm in Somerset, I like to go riding. I’ll get up with a leisurely cup of tea and drive over to the stables in the company of Chris Evans. I like the fact that he’s smart, funny, edgy but not too edgy. I even forgive him for the fact that he recently described me as the Dragon who had a haulage business – that was Hilary Devey.

Who else do you tune in to?

Ken Bruce, Steve Wright. When I want to remember what the young people do I put on Radio 1. Then I shout at it because I think: “Why don’t you tell me what that piece of music is? I love that and I’ll never be able to buy it now.”

What brings a tear to your eye?

Cruelty really upsets me, to people or animals. But I make myself watch because you can’t care if you don’t know. I have a good life and it reminds me to value that.

Your childhood favourite?

Champion the Wonder Horse. I still know all the words to the theme tune, recently adopted by a pizza company ad. I also loved Doctor Who although it terrified me – I’d go behind the sofa. My sister Gail would be peeking round the door.

Who was your first crush?

In my day, you had Donny Osmond, David Cassidy or David Essex. I was a David Essex girl. I never got Donny Osmond at all.

Who’s left you starstruck?

I don’t really approve of having heroes or idols but I did get completely tongue-tied when I met David Attenborough. “Look Deborah,” I thought, “you’re an intelligent woman. Why are you talking drivel?” Now I know how the contestants in the Den feel!

On Strictly Come Dancing you seemed very different, very jolly…

Before I did Strictly people would recognise me in the street but they would never approach me; I’d see them digging each other in the ribs, whispering. Now people saunter up and say hello. It’s lovely. The Den is me but it’s one small aspect of me.

Have you managed to keep it up?

I have literally – honestly – just got back from a ballroom dancing lesson with my husband. He secretly took up ballroom dancing lessons because he could see how much I loved it and revealed it the day I went out of Strictly. It’s a wonderful way to keep fit.

Could you be tempted to do any other reality shows – Celebrity MasterChef perhaps?

I haven’t cooked a meal in 28 years and I’m not about to start in front of millions of people! Possibly for a charitable cause – I’m game for pretty much anything if it’s to raise funds.

Who would you choose to play you?

In my dreams it would be Cate Blanchett. She’s blonde, she’s beautiful – she’s everything that I’d love to have been!


Dragon’s Den returns to BBC2 at 8:30pm on Sunday 20 July