Kelly is the latest Dragon lured into the Den
When you're named one of the new Dragons on Dragons' Den, it's not going to be long before well-meant mickey-taking begins, as design industry icon Kelly Hoppen discovered.
It was recently announced that she, along with cloud computing pioneer Piers Linney, was joining the show's stalwarts Duncan Bannatyne, Peter Jones and Deborah Meaden.
"Sienna [Miller, Kelly's stepdaughter from a previous marriage] calls me her 'Little Dragon' and, of course, I've had all the jokes. The boyfriend says, 'I sleep with the Dragon', my daughter Natasha goes, 'My mother the Dragon', and so it goes on..."
Kelly, looking striking in a fitted black dress and with an abundance of coiffured blonde curls, couldn't be happier to be joining the show, which opens its doors for an 11th series.
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"I don't know anyone who doesn't like Dragons' Den," says the luminous 54-year-old in a low, polished voice. "It's an iconic show and I'm flattered to be involved in it."
When we meet, the Dragons are in the last week of filming at the BBC studios in Salford.
"It's been fantastic, but it's full-on," says Kelly. "We've done about 76 pitches so far and some last an hour, 90 minutes, but it's fascinating.
For the most part, she's used her woman's intuition when choosing who to invest in. "And then something will happen and you'll think, 'Was I right, was I wrong?'" she adds.
Kelly isn't going to ruin the surprise and divulge who she's gone into business with, but she does reveal they're not creative ventures.
"I've invested in things I know about and am interested in, but have nothing to do with lampshades," she says, laughing.
As tough as the Dragons are with each other on screen, she reveals that the other Dragons couldn't have been more welcoming.
"I know Peter and Duncan from before and Deborah's fantastic, as is Piers. It's like one big family living together, essentially."
Through publicising her various business ventures over the years, Kelly's become accustomed to television cameras, so didn't feel nervous on her first day.
"I was excited and had adrenaline," she says. "I asked the other Dragons how I came across and they said I just fell into it. That was great, because you want to ease your way into a very famous show. You don't want to stand out."
Unlike her predecessor, perhaps, the shoulder-padded, husky-voiced Hilary Devey, who, along with Theo Paphitis, bid adieu to the show at the end of series ten.
It's not just the Dragons that have changed – so has the Den. Now the top floor is only accessible via a lift, meaning the budding entrepreneurs sweat it out like never before on their way to pitch their businesses – and viewers get to watch every painful moment.
If she's learnt anything over weeks of filming, it's that she's drawn to young entrepreneurs, she reveals.
"I love working with young people starting up," says Kelly, who's an ambassador for The Prince's Trust.
Born in Cape Town, Kelly moved to London with her family when she was two years old. At school, she was bullied for her dyslexia, but that didn't deter her. In fact, it spurred her on, and at 16 she embarked on her own business. Almost 40 years later, she's an author, presenter, award-winning designer with high-profile clientele including the Beckhams, and the founder of the Kelly Hoppen Design School. In 2009 she was awarded an MBE in the New Year Honours List.
She thought about going into the Den with a game plan. "But," she says, "that goes out the window after the first five minutes, and you're just very much yourself."
The new series of Dragons' Den begins on BBC Two tomorrow night.