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Dragons Den - Teddy Bear's Picnic

BBC2 18th August 2019. Series 17, Episode 2

Earlier this year I received an email asking us if we would like to be considered to go on Dragons Den. There was absolutely no hesitation, so I phoned them up with a massive YES! I have been a massive fan of the programme long before I was a Grain Surgeon to The Great British Porridge Co. Can you believe my first thought was ‘what shall I wear’? Typical!

It was an incredible experience and I thought I’d share it with you.

Lots of emails whizzed back and forth for a few weeks and I was then invited with my business partner, Matt, to go for an audition. It started to feel real and quite scary. “Remember your numbers” was all I heard from my husband leading up to it. Matt and I were invited to audition at BBC in London. It was so exciting to be going to the BBC television centre. We were taken to a room and introduced to a couple of lovely, welcoming people who tried their best to put us at ease. Matt and I had both agreed to try and enjoy it as much as possible and just hope they liked us, as we felt that was half the battle. We did have fun, and as we were filmed, we ended up laughing at our mistakes with those at BBC!  I knew it was going well when they tried the porridge and declared how good it was! We must have done something right as we made it through to the next round!

Lots and lots more emails and information whizzed back and forth, lots of phone calls and lots of brainstorming trying to come up with ideas to make us memorable…..and we certainly managed that! We decided to go with 3 bears dancing and eating bowls of porridge. This was Matt’s idea - I wanted the Spice Girls lookalikes but got outvoted. We managed to ‘recruit’ three bears from family and friends, and rehearsals began. We decided the bears needed brightening up a bit so I dug out my sewing machine, popped to Hobbycraft and came back with metres of Union Jack fabric. By the next rehearsals the bears were dressed in a Union Jack nappy, kipper tie and a big oversized hair bow.

Matt and I were living and breathing figures and were determined to remember them, though trying to memorise our pitch was hard enough.

The big day came and we were just packing the car up ready to head off to Manchester for the filming when we received a phonemail to say Touker had been taken ill and the filming was being postponed. The adrenaline had really been working over time in the anticipation of the filming so to get this news was hard to handle but we totally understood as Toukers health was most important.

We were given a new date a few weeks away, which was fine, as it gave us more time to go through everything. We lost one of the people who was going to be a bear as they couldn’t make the new date, so we quickly recruited another, my son! Rehearsals began again, training up our new bear.

The time flew and once again we prepared for our trip to the studios in Manchester. We were booked into a hotel there and Matt and I had dinner with the bears. It was good - we had a few laughs and cracked a few bear jokes. I think it was way better than just staying in the hotel room worrying about the next day and whether we would remember our numbers.

Early start the next morning….though to be honest I don’t think any of us actually slept. We were collected in a mini bus and taken to the studio to get there by 6.30am. Straight away we we were whizzed round to where the filming actually takes place to set up our props and check that the director was happy with them. It soon became apparent we were going to be the first ones to pitch out of everyone. This was good though, as it didn’t give us time to start worrying. We were then taken away and had our hair and makeup done, while being told to help ourselves to breakfast. I tried a pot of porridge…..and it totally reiterated why I started The Great British Porridge Co….it was so bland! I picked a different one up that was too sweet, and when I looked saw that it had refined sugar in it. Everyone started eating our porridge that we had put out.

We certainly caused a hit with our bears and all the production staff kept coming back in asking to try the bears’ heads, as well as taking photos.

Time to go…….we were taken through to the filming area and did lots of pre interviews. Our poor bears were getting very hot under those outfits. It was time to go into the lift, watching the lift numbers count down was so tense, I’m sure I could feel my heart beating. The doors opened, into the lifts, a big bear hug and we were off onto our amazing Dragons’ Den adventure…..

As soon as the doors opened and our bears went out dancing the first thing I could see was the dragons smiling and I just thought…hooray, phew, the Dragons like them, such a relief

Matt and I scooted out behind them quite nervously and delivered our pitch. I made up some porridge for the Dragons to try and I could have cried with happiness when they announced it ‘delicious and the best porridge they had tasted’.

Then it started, all nice at first, lots of compliments and questions about how it all began. Slowly the questions were getting more serious and I started feeling the pressure. The nerves were kicking in and I my mind was going blank, I fought hard to stay focused. Of course the inevitable happened, we got confused and forgot some of our numbers. It doesn’t matter how much time you take to learn them - it all goes out the window when the cameras roll, the Dragons start their questions, and the lights are shining at you.

Thankfully, we managed to receive an offer from every dragon, a total of FIVE, a rarity known as a ‘full house’

Note: This episode was watched by circa 2.5 million people and generated over 1,200 online orders straight after the show!!

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