Caan’s war of words as Baylis attacks ‘Demeaning’ Dragon’s Den

But
in a letter to the Daily Telegraph, one of the programme’s five
Dragons, said that
if it wasn’t for them, most would simply remain in the “dank garages”.

James Caan, who started out in the
textiles industry, suggested that Mr Baylis was behind the times.

“This
drama doesn’t take place in dark, dank garages: it takes place in
living rooms all across the nation, where people are inspired into
action, learn how to ‘pitch’ and get a taste for how ruthlessly
competitive being an inventor-entrepreneur can be,” he wrote.

“Of course, it’s ‘reality compressed’ into 50 minutes; but it is reality, nonetheless.”

Mr
Baylis, 72, was awarded an OBE for his wind-up radio, which has sold
millions around the world and helped to transform the lives of people
in the Third World.

He said the inventors should be treated
with “due deference and respect” but instead, producers saw them as
“game-show contestants” and used them to make light entertainment.

“I
could not disagree more,” Mr Caan wrote in response. “I would also go
as far to say that his resentment is perhaps misplaced. Dragons’ Den is
after all, a product of the television era, not the radio age. While
the radio remains relevant, television is riveting.

“I have the
greatest respect for Trevor and his achievements. It must be said
however, that a seismic, generational and cultural shift has occurred
since he gave the world the clockwork radio.

“Firstly,
technology (namely, the Internet) has evolved in such a way that people
now have quicker, easier access to information and resources that allow
them to make the initial, bold leap into inventor-hood.

“Second,
anybody – and I do mean anybody – with a shred of ambition and
ingenuity can invent. This is not about social class, formal education
or training: the ability to make something useful and take it to market
has become a much more democratic process.

“Lastly and most
importantly, people today want to take their ‘journey’ to the masses
and learn something valuable in the process. And what is a more
compelling and democratic platform than the television to do this?”

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