Dragons, we've moved your chairs ...
Editor's Note: Sam Lewens is Executive Producer of Dragons' Den. Here he writes about the programme's move to Salford.
Well no one said it would be easy! We've been talking about trying to bring the Den up to the North West for well over a year now.
The thing is, that of the nine month production period, only 18 (very long) days are spent each year filming down at Pinewood Studios. So to be able to announce that we will be making the whole programme from up here feels like closure for a process that started many years ago, after we first took over the series in 2006.
Of course big thanks need to go to all the Dragons who were very generous and flexible with their diaries to try and make the logistics work for everyone. When one of the dailies printed a story about two of the Dragons threatening to pull out if filming was moved up here, it was obviously not the best of mornings! But it was a rumour quickly dispelled, and I¹m pleased to say that all five are raring to go, and keen to build on the success of the latest series.
The Den is truly a magical place, as anyone who has passed through it will testify. From the outside, it may sometimes feel like the Willy Wonka Factory of the business world.
But witness the excitement and nerves of budding entrepreneurs, desperate to convince the multi-millionaires that theirs is the business plan most deserving of investment, and all skepticism is set aside. I know it sounds misty eyed, but I really do like the idea of knowing that the Den will be nearby. It is the heart of the production, and yet for years it has been 200 miles away. Dozens of entrepreneurs from all over the country will now be travelling to Salford. And for a lucky few, this is the place where their business dreams will come true.
I personally won't miss the 80s-style hotel in Beaconsfield where we camped out during our weeks down south. I did go to one of their fortnightly Friday night discos but it was way too surreal an experience for me. In my head, I was transported back to being my awkward fourteen year old former self, but my actual 40-odd year old current self was now in a room full of grown ups all still desperately trying to make sure they had someone to dance with when Careless Whisper was played at the end of the night!
A sad goodbye though to Pinewood, who have been brilliant partners for us for the last five years, and an even sadder goodbye to those showbiz moments where we would accidently bump into Johnny Depp or Daniel Craig.
But then an exciting hello to the chance to have pre-production, production and post-production in one space, and where of course we can always look forward to accidently bumping into Misters Tumble and Bloom (my kids will be much more impressed!).
And 2012, among other things, is the Year of the Dragon. And it feels good to say for definite, that it will be the year of the Dragons here in Salford.
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