Deborah Meaden

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Deborah Meaden
Deborah meaden theo pahitis patrick van der vorst.jpg
Meaden (left) with Patrick van der Vorst (middle) and Theo Paphitis (right) after a BBC's Dragons' Den appearance
Born (1959-02-11) 11 February 1959 (age 63)
Taunton, Somerset, England
EducationTrowbridge High School
Alma materBrighton Technical College
Known forDragons' Den
Strictly Come Dancing

Deborah Sonia Meaden (born 11 February 1959)[1][2] is a British businesswoman and TV personality who ran a multimillion-pound family holiday business, before completing a management buyout. She is best known for her appearances as a 'Dragon' on the BBC business programme Dragons' Den.[3]

Early life[edit]

Meaden was born in Taunton, Somerset.[2] Her parents divorced when she was young, and her mother moved Deborah and her older sister Gail to Brightlingsea in Essex. Meaden went to the Godolphin School, Salisbury, for a brief period and then to Trowbridge High School for Girls (now The John of Gaunt School)[citation needed] which she left at the age of 16.


On leaving school, Meaden studied business at Brighton Technical College, after which she worked as a sales-room model in a fashion house.[4] After graduation, she moved to Italy at 19 and set up a glass and ceramics export agency, which sold products to retailers including Harvey Nichols.[4] The company failed after 18 months.[citation needed]

Meaden and a partner bought one of the first Stefanel textile franchises in the UK, which was based in the West Country; she sold out two years later to her partner for £10,000.[citation needed] She then had several successful leisure and retail businesses, including a spell operating a Prize Bingo at Butlins in Minehead.

In 1988, Meaden joined her family's business to run its amusement arcade operations and in 1992, joined Weststar Holidays, a family holiday park operator based in Exeter, Devon, with its major sites in South West England. In 1999, she led a management buyout and acquired the majority shareholding. By the time she sold the company six years later, Weststar was providing holidays for more than 150,000 people each year with an EBITDA in excess of £11 million. In 2005, she made a partial exit when Weststar was sold in a deal worth £33 million to Phoenix Equity Partners,[5] and, in August 2007, her remaining stake of 23%[6] in Weststar Holidays was liquidated when the firm was sold to Alchemy Partners for £83 million, valuing her stake at about £19 million.[7]

In 2009, Meaden acquired Fox Brothers (a West Country textile mill established in 1772 and still based in Wellington, Somerset) along with fellow shareholder, Douglas Cordeaux, former design director at Pepe Jeans London.[8] She was also involved in a collaboration with BBC conductor Charles Hazlewood, 'Play the Field', a weekend of classical music on Charles's farm in Somerset over the August bank holiday weekend 2009.[9] In October 2011, Meaden launched 'The Merchant Fox', an online store selling British-made luxury goods with provenance.

In 2009, a planning inspector criticised Meaden's evidence to his enquiry as "implausible" in a dispute over the granting of village green status to a field on which Mudstone LLP, a firm in which she is a partner, wished to build 48 homes.[10][11]


Dragons' Den[edit]

Meaden is known for her appearances as an investor ('dragon') on the BBC Two series Dragons' Den,[12] where she took over from Rachel Elnaugh in the third series in August 2006. Like Elnaugh, Meaden was the only female investor, although this changed in subsequent seasons with the arrival of Hilary Devey to replace James Caan. As of 2021, she has agreed investments through this route in 63 businesses to a value of over £3.3 million.[13][failed verification]

Strictly Come Dancing[edit]

Meaden took part in the eleventh series of the BBC One dancing show Strictly Come Dancing, which began on 7 September 2013 and was partnered with professional dancer Robin Windsor.[14][15][16][17] She was eliminated from the show on 26 October.

Week # Dance/Song Judges' scores Result
Craig Revel Horwood Darcey Bussell Len Goodman Bruno Tonioli Total
1 Tango / "Money, Money, Money" 6 6 6 6 24 Safe
2 Cha-Cha-Cha / "Respect" 5 7 6 6 24 Safe
3 Quickstep / "(Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher and Higher" 7 7 7 7 28 Safe
4 Jive / "Making Your Mind Up" 5 6 6 6 23 Safe
5 Viennese Waltz / "It's a Man's Man's Man's World" 6 7 7 7 27 Eliminated

Other appearances[edit]


Meaden published Common Sense Rules (Random House) in the UK in May 2009. She used a ghostwriting service known as Professional Ghost to complete this project.[20]

Other work[edit]

In November 2009, Meaden featured in a short film to promote Somerset to businesses, commissioned by Into Somerset,[21] having previously recorded two other short films for the inward investment agency in February 2009.[22]

Meaden is a member of the Council of Ambassadors of the World Wildlife Fund.[23]

She does a lot of work with the Dogs Trust charity and is an ambassador for the Marine Conservation Society.[24]

In March 2022, she started her own podcast called The Big Green Money Show. In it, she aims to find out what are big and small companies doing to reduce their impact on the planet.

Personal life[edit]

Meaden met her husband in summer 1985, while he worked at Weststar during his university break. They separated, but after she took a trip to Venezuela, she returned to London and they married in 1993. The couple have no children and live in a period property near Langport in Somerset with numerous animals. Meaden bought the property in 2006 after selling her Weststar Holidays business for £33 million. Since then, the house has undergone extensive renovations using period accurate materials.[25]

She is an atheist.[26][27] Meaden has listed her favourite film as The Shawshank Redemption, her favourite holiday destination as Central and South America and her favourite sport as rugby union.[28] In October 2020, Meaden adopted a plant-based diet.[29]

In August 2022, Meaden revealed that she had been diagnosed with squamous cell carcinoma, a type of skin cancer, in 2015, after her makeup artist noticed a suspicious small spot on her face around six weeks prior to her diagnosis.[30]


In July 2010, Meaden was awarded an honorary degree from the University of Exeter Business School.[31] She also received an honorary degree from Staffordshire University in the same month.[32] She was given an honorary degree at Keele University in July 2013.[33] In July 2014, Meaden was awarded an honorary degree from Bath Spa University.


  1. ^ Deborah Meaden [@deborahmeaden] (11 February 2021). "... it has indeed been (in reply to a Happy Birthday message)" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  2. ^ a b Hasan, Mehdi (6 January 2011). "The NS Interview: Deborah Meaden, Dragons' Den panellist". New Statesman. Archived from the original on 17 September 2018. Retrieved 17 September 2018.
  3. ^ "My Bottom Line: entrepreneur Deborah Meaden". BBC News. Archived from the original on 7 October 2014. Retrieved 13 October 2015.
  4. ^ a b "Vicky Frost Meets Deborah Meaden". The Guardian. London. 28 August 2006. Archived from the original on 4 December 2021. Retrieved 18 August 2008.
  5. ^ "Deborah Meaden – profile". BBC Dragons' Den. Archived from the original on 7 March 2008. Retrieved 18 August 2008.
  6. ^ "Deborah Meaden – WWF UK". Archived from the original on 31 October 2013. Retrieved 31 May 2014.
  7. ^ "Deborah Meaden and family". Sunday Times Rich List 2008. London: The Sunday Times. 27 April 2008. Archived from the original on 12 June 2011. Retrieved 18 August 2008.
  8. ^ Keens, Emma (16 January 2010). "I'm in: Dragon Meaden buys Fox Brothers". The Times. Archived from the original on 11 June 2011. Retrieved 15 October 2010.
  9. ^ "Play the field site". Archived from the original on 4 July 2011. Retrieved 4 December 2021.
  10. ^ Dragons' Den star in planning row Archived 4 December 2021 at the Wayback Machine. BBC News (4 September 2009). Retrieved on 4 January 2012.
  11. ^ Planning inspector blasts TV Dragon Meaden Archived 5 August 2010 at the Wayback Machine. (4 September 2009). Retrieved on 4 January 2012.
  12. ^ "Question time with Hannah Pool: Dragons' Den's Deborah Meaden on why she can't stand bullshit". The Guardian. London. 22 November 2007. Retrieved 18 August 2008.
  13. ^ "Deborah Meaden Dragons' Den investor official website". Archived from the original on 5 May 2021. Retrieved 29 April 2021.
  14. ^ Plunkett, John (2 September 2013). "Strictly Come Dancing 2013 contestants unveiled | Television & radio". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 3 September 2013. Retrieved 28 September 2013.
  15. ^ "Strictly Come Dancing 2013 full lineup: Sophie Ellis-Bextor, Ben Cohen – Strictly Come Dancing News – Reality TV". Digital Spy. 2 September 2013. Archived from the original on 6 October 2013. Retrieved 28 September 2013.
  16. ^ "Strictly Come Dancing Deborah Meaden: 'Criticism must be constructive' – Strictly Come Dancing News – Reality TV". Digital Spy. 2 September 2013. Archived from the original on 4 December 2021. Retrieved 28 September 2013.
  17. ^ "BBC One – Strictly Come Dancing – Deborah Meaden". 1 January 1970. Archived from the original on 5 September 2013. Retrieved 28 September 2013.
  18. ^ Grace, Steve. "BBC – The Speaker – Conviction: How to deliver a speech with conviction". Archived from the original on 27 November 2018. Retrieved 30 September 2018.
  19. ^ "Kevin Pietersen: Beast of Man, Episode 8, Champagne". Archived from the original on 4 December 2021. Retrieved 17 June 2019.
  20. ^ "Previous Work and Testimonials". Professional Ghost. Archived from the original on 24 August 2014. Retrieved 12 May 2015.
  21. ^ "Credit Crunch". BBC. Archived from the original on 10 July 2013. Retrieved 13 October 2015.
  22. ^ Into Somerset video gallery Archived 13 August 2009 at the Wayback Machine – Into Somerset website
  23. ^ "Deborah Meaden". Archived from the original on 16 July 2011. Retrieved 1 February 2010.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)
  24. ^ "Marine-conservation-society". Archived from the original on 30 September 2018. Retrieved 30 September 2018.
  25. ^ McBride, Lorraine (12 January 2014). "Deborah Meaden: 'I was selling flowers at the age of seven'". The Telegraph. Archived from the original on 4 November 2014. Retrieved 3 November 2014.
  26. ^ "Inside Deborah Meaden's money-making businesses and family life". 6 January 2022.
  27. ^ "Deborah Meaden". Michelle Ogundehin. ELLE Decoration UK. August 2012. Archived from the original on 5 September 2018. Retrieved 4 September 2018.
  28. ^ "BBC – BBC Two Programmes – Dragons' Den – Deborah Meaden". Archived from the original on 29 August 2018. Retrieved 30 September 2018.
  29. ^ @DeborahMeaden (18 October 2020). "And as if by magic... ta da !! I have..." (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  30. ^ Adejobi, Alicia (8 August 2022). "Dragons' Den legend Deborah Meaden reveals that she "ignored" white spot before being diagnosed with skin cancer and urges others to take signs seriously". Metro. Retrieved 31 August 2022.
  31. ^ "Honorary graduates 2010–11 Deborah Meaden (LLD)". University of Exeter. Archived from the original on 6 September 2015. Retrieved 13 October 2015.
  32. ^ Staffordshire University announces 2010 honours list Archived 28 July 2010 at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved on 4 January 2012.
  33. ^ "Keele Honorary Degrees Summer 2013". Keele University. Archived from the original on 15 January 2015. Retrieved 4 March 2015.

External links[edit]