Two of these shows would now be considered outdated but there is much that can still be learned from businesses trying to make it in whatever times they were in. It has, in fact, probably become more difficult to make it in business because there is competition everywhere. For example, the food shops and supermarkets that once just stocked food, are now stocking all sorts of items including clothes and electrical goods. After joining Europe, international trade was made all the easier, but then that would work both ways. And now, of course, following Brexit, Britain will need to make all new and separate business contrasts around the world. So, let us start with Dragon’s Den, the most recent of British TV shows, and the one in which today’s businesses are trying to start-up or expand.
Presented by Evan Davis, and first hitting our screens on 4 January 2005, Dragon’s Den has become a popular show among businesspeople and viewers alike. It provides the opportunity for would-be millionaires to pitch their ideas to five established millionaires. In fact, multi-millionaires, who have experience in all areas of business, and have the knowledge, expertise, and contacts, to take a new product to market with success, by lowering its production costs and enhancing its branding. Entrepreneurs are allowed just three minutes to pitch their ideas to the “keen to invest” panel, who invest their own cash and time in only the ventures they consider most likely to bring them a return. Having said that, they do sometimes show empathy for ethical ideas and projects which benefit the environment and its citizens. It is thought invaluable not just to win the money of a “Dragon” but to also gain their business knowledge and contacts, which can really kick-start a business, when their products, often for the first time, are accepted and stocked by the big chain stores. It all makes fascinating viewing as the different presentations by contestants are scrutinized. Many will fail on not being able to remember their numbers, or not knowing a gross profit from a net one. It has kept me gripped from day one, unlike the sole of the badly designed pair of shoes which gave me the impression that I was walking on a banana skin.
Starring Paul Nicholas, and dating back to 1987, Bust was a comedy series that featured unsuccessful businessman Neil Walsh. The show is all about him trying to rebuild his life after having been declared bankrupt. The bankruptcy process ensures that the assets of a business that has been declared bankrupt are shared fairly among creditors in accordance with the law. This process also allows the bankruptee to make a fresh start, although with restrictions applied to their activities. Currently, they are not allowed to set up a business again for a minimum of 12 months under the bankruptcy agreement. This is what creates the comedy in Bust, as Neil tries to trade under the tight restrictions placed on him by his regulators.
First airing in 1981, again a time when it was the thing to set up on your own in business, The Gaffer fascinated those thinking of doing the same. That iconic image of a thrifty businessman played by Bill Maynard throwing unpaid parking tickets onto the back seat of his Rover P6 car, and avoiding just about every authority that was trying to take away his hard-earned cash, made compelling viewing. The series was created by Graham White, who was in business himself. It ran for 20 episodes. The series was aptly named The Gaffer, to refer to the one in charge. He at least thought he was.
Although comedy can be found in running a business, or attempting to run one, there is little humor in it for those businesses struggling to survive in an ever-changing economy. But perhaps this kind of viewing is just what the owners of businesses struggling with cash flow, and their employees, need for a bit of light relief. To seek out Dragon’s Den, through new episodes and catch-up, and the other two, by finding for sale their DVD Box Sets.