Dragon's Den, BBC2 - TV review: £20,000 for 'meggings'? The Dragons will never wear it

Three young men in leggings elicited a fiery response from the Dragons

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The Independent Culture

There was a battle of the sexes brewing on Dragons’ Den this week, the first episode back after a mid-series break. It concerned a gent’s ability to appreciate the usefulness of a product designed to prevent ladies’ high heels from sinking into the grass at outdoor events. “Listen, it’s not a guy and girl thing, we all get it,” huffed Peter Jones, although you didn’t see him volunteering to try out a pair of Ally Stevenson’s Clean Heels, did you? That fell to fellow-dragon Deborah Meaden, who leant on Ally’s shoulder for support as it was fitted. “It’s like shodding a horse,” observed Peter ungallantly. Ally eventually did the sisterly thing and accepted joint investment from Deborah and Kelly Hoppen.

Even the spectacular sight of three young men exiting the lift dressed in leggings wasn’t enough to lift Peter’s mood. Sorry, not “leggings”, these were actually men’s leggings or “Meggings”, an exciting new fashion innovation, which is, like, completely different from the leggings typically worn by women and definitely worth a £20,000 investment. But what could possibly have inspired this kind of left-field thinking, you wonder? “Eighteen months ago we wore leggings to a party. We looked good and we felt good.” But Deborah thought they must be pulling her leg(gings). “Seriously? It’s a bet, isn’t it?”

Peter also gave short shrift to the man pitching his smartphone-operated Easy Bulb (“Dragons’ Den in 1950, it might have been a deal”), but it was Joshua and Hyrum Cook of Zeven Media who really got him riled up. They dared come to his den, pitching a photo booth product connected to his photography industry and never once pay proper tribute to the man who gave us Jessops?! “You should be very embarrassed,” he scolded, to bemused looks from the brothers and other dragons. 

Before there were photo booths, there was Hans Holbein the Younger. In Holbein: Eye of the Tudors, a Culture Show special, art critic Waldemar Januszczak made the case that the 16th-century German artist wasn’t just a court painter, but the creator of our modern image of the Tudors. Close your eyes and conjure up Henry VIII and it’s likely you’ll see something very close  to Holbein’s c1540 portrait.

Holbein's iconic Henry VIII shaped our perspective of the king (Getty)

Sadly, 18 years of presenting cheekily provocative arts documentaries seems to have taken its toll on Januszczak’s vocal delivery. He landed on random syllables and reverberated wildly with no apparent care for what part of the sentence he was emphasising. If you could ignore that mildly annoying tic, however, you were treated to an informative biography, plus a passionate explanation of the “sense of actuality” that was Holbein’s genius.

“These first English portraits of Holbein’s make Doctor Whos of us all,” said Januszczak, ever keen to make art accessible. “Tardising us back in time to meet a Tudor cast that feels astonishingly present. Just there, right in front of us.”

This time-travelling quality is of particular interest, now that the BBC’s Wolf Hall adaptation threatens to replace Holbein’s paintings as our go-to source on the personalities of the period. Was Thomas More a demented religious bigot? Was Thomas Cromwell an admirable man of principle? Or is this revisionism just the invention of fiction? Holbein (and Januszczak) were Team More all the way.