Dragons' Den's Deborah Meaden reveals how guest Dragons Gary Neville and Emma Grede surprised show's established Dragons

Virgin Radio

4 May 2024, 09:22

Credit: Getty

Dragons' Den regular Deborah Meaden seemed to be rather impressed by this series' guest Dragons Gary Neville and Emma Grede, surprising even the most veteran of Dragons.

As the fiery breath of business pitches returned to our screens for the 21st series of Dragons' Den, so too did a new twist in the Den's lineup.

This season, football legend Gary Neville and fashion icon Emma Grede take their seats as the first-ever Guest Dragons alongside the formidable squad of Peter Jones, Deborah Meaden, Touker Suleyman, Sara Davies, and Steven Bartlett.

In an exclusive chat with virginradio.co.uk, Deborah Meaden shared her initial concerns and subsequent praises for the new Dragons.

“Well, I think it's fair to say that all of the dragons were thinking, 'I wonder how this is gonna work, having a sixth chair.' You know, we've all got enough questions ourselves without having another one coming in. But I have to say I thought they were fantastic. I think they added a different dimension. They bought their own skills. The minute they sat in those chairs, it was like they had been there forever. And I think that's a real testimony to both Gary and Emma. Because you know, it takes a while to get into the rhythm of Dragon's Den, but I think they're absolutely brilliant,” Meaden remarked.

The inclusion of Neville and Grede meant that hopeful entrepreneurs faced an even more daunting panel, pitching to secure life-changing investments.

With these new Dragons breathing their own brand of fire, the dynamic within the Den has certainly been shaken up, much to the delight of fans and participants alike.

Looking forward to the future, Meaden teased the continuation of the guest Dragon format but kept tight-lipped about who might be next.

She gossiped: "I know we're going to be having guest dragons again next year. But you also, I'm sure, know that I'm not going to spill the beans on who they are!"

While she wouldn’t divulge the upcoming guest stars, Meaden didn’t shy away from sharing her dream candidates.

“I think it would have to be somebody with an environmental bend to their businesses,” she mused, hinting at a greener future for the Den.

David Attenborough was then named as the ideal participant, given his influential voice on environmental matters.

Meaden also opened up about her support for the charity Mary’s Meals, expressing her passion for their mission to feed over 2.4 million hungry children daily in educational settings.

“The point about that is yes, they feed hungry children, but they feed them at school. And what that means is that children go to school, and we also know that when they go to school they learn better if they’re well fed, so they’ve got this wonderful holistic approach to charity,” she explained.

With an eye toward expanding the global impact, Mary’s Meals' latest campaign is particularly focused on supporting schools in Malawi and Zambia.

Meaden highlighted the inclusivity of the charity’s appeal, urging individuals and larger organisations alike to contribute. “Whether you're an individual who wants to give £10, £100, whatever it is… or you’re bigger organisation that's going to commit to a chunkier sum of money, everybody can get involved,” she encouraged.

As Dragons' Den continues to evolve with its guest Dragons, the stakes are higher, the deals hotter, and the Dragons’ lair more thrilling than ever.

For more information on the campaign and more, visit marysmeals.org.uk.

Dragon’s Den is available to watch on BBC iPlayer now.