From the top · 19 April 2017

Football’s Steve Parish is one of two new Dragons’ Den investors

Steve Parish
Under Steve Parish, Crystal Palace FC has emerged out of administration and into the Premier League

Steve Parish and Jenny Campbell will join the panel of famous judges on Dragons’ Den when series 15 of the hit TV show airs in Britain later this year, BBC Two bosses have announced.

Following the departure from the show of investors Sarah Willingham and Nick Jenkins in February, Parish and Campbell will join existing Dragon Touker Suleyman, as well as original judges Peter Jones and Deborah Meaden.

With first-hand experience of starting and growing successful, multi-million pound businesses, it is hoped Parish and Campbell will both bring considerable firepower to the Den.

Parish is the executive chairman at Crystal Palace football club and former CEO at advertising agency Tag Worldwide – a business he grew from a small London-based company to a vast multinational, with over 3,000 employees and annual revenues of more than £180m.

Campbell, as one of the UK’s most successful former female bankers, made her name as an entrepreneur after leaving the world of corporate finance behind after 30 years in 2006. She turned around a failing cash machine business and created YourCash Europe – a £50m venture she sold in October last year.

Both Parish and Campbell have admitted to being fans of the show, and have expressed excitement about the prospect of using their unique experiences in business to spot a new generation of talented UK entrepreneurs.

“I’m thrilled to become a Dragon and really excited to meet the entrepreneurs in this series, see what ideas they bring to the Den and how I might be able to help them grow,” said Parish.

Campbell added: “I’m very excited to be taking my seat in the line-up and bringing my own unique style to the Den”.

BBC decision makers have struggled to maintain consistency on the Dragons’ Den judging panel in recent series. Ever since original investor James Caan left the show in 2010, a multitude of Dragons have come and gone, including Hilary Devey, Kelly Hoppen, Piers Linney, and most recently Willingham and Jenkins.

Another of the show’s popular original judges – health club mogul Duncan Bannatyne – made his final appearance in the Den in 2015.

Commenting on the show’s new-look judging panel, BBC Two channel controller Patrick Holland warned applicants that the next series could be the toughest yet.

“With their extensive business experience, Steve and Jenny, alongside Peter, Deborah and Touker make for a formidable line up to turn up the heat on prospective entrepreneurs brave enough to enter the den.”

“It’s fantastic to welcome two such impressive new Dragons to the team,” he added.

Filming for the new series of Dragons’ Den begins this month, with BBC bosses promising viewers the show will return to TV screens later in 2017.

Here’s every famous investor to appear on Dragons’ Den – in order of first appearance

  • Peter Jones
  • Rachel Elnaugh
  • Simon Woodroffe
  • Doug Richard
  • Duncan Bannatyne
  • Theo Paphitis
  • Deborah Meaden
  • Richard Farleigh
  • James Caan
  • Hilary Devey
  • Piers Linney
  • Kelly Hoppen
  • Touker Suleyman
  • Sarah Willingham
  • Nick Jenkins
  • Jenny Campbell
  • Steve Parish

James Caan’s seven-day startup guide: Day one – Is my idea really a business?

James Caan’s seven-day startup guide: Day two – Testing out your idea to fit customer needs

James Caan’s seven-day startup guide: Day three – Playing the numbers game

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ABOUT THE EXPERT

Fred Heritage is deputy editor at Business Advice. He has a BA in politics and international relations from the University of Kent and an MA in international conflict from Kings College London. He previously worked as a reporter at Global Trade Review magazine.

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