Dragons' Den: The real reason why Duncan Bannatyne, Tej Lalvani and more left

Several investors have come and gone over the years...

We love sitting down to watch new episodes of Dragons' Den, which has recently returned to screens with a new series.

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Having been on screens for 17 years, the show has seen several fearsome investors come and go over the years with Peter Jones remaining the last original Dragon from series one. So why have the likes of Duncan Bannatyne, Kelly Hoppen and Tej Lalvani left the show? Get the lowdown here…

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Tej Lalvani

Tej Lalvani is the latest Dragon to quit the show. The entrepreneur confirmed in early 2021 that the 18th series would be his final stint on the investing show after four years. In a heartfelt statement posted to Twitter, he revealed that he was leaving to focus on his vitamin business Vitabiotics which his father, professor Kartar Lalvani, founded back in 1971.

He wrote: "As my own business, @vitabiotics, continues to expand, and my portfolio of investments grows, I am no longer able to dedicate the necessary time and attention to the show.

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Duncan Bannatyne

Scottish businessman Duncan Bannatyne bowed out of the show in 2015 after ten years, making him the second-longest serving original dragon. The health club mogul cited "business commitments" as the reason for his departure but also admitted that he just didn't want to invest in any new entrepreneurs anymore.

"I do not plan to make any further investments on the programme so thought it fair to offer my seat to someone else," he said at the time.

Theo Paphitis

Retail giant Theo Paphitis stepped down from his role on the show in 2013, telling the BBC: "The time felt right to give up my seat, stop breathing fire and allow someone else to enjoy the wonderful experience of being a Dragon."

However, viewers will have seen him as recently as last year when he sat in for Peter Jones, who sadly had to miss out on a couple of episodes due to Covid-19. 

Sarah Willingham

Sarah Willingham's time on the show was short but sweet. The businesswoman, best known for her management of high-street restaurants such as Planet Hollywood and Pizza Express, joined the show in 2015 but decided to leave in 2017. She revealed exclusively to HELLO! that she decided to quit the hit show after her husband suffered a life-threatening cancer scare.

She said: "We had made this promise to ourselves, to each other and to the kids, that we would take a year to go off and see the world together and make the most amazing memories. As much as I love Dragons' Den, I love my family more."

Jenny Campbell

Banker-turned-entrepreneur Jenny Campbell is another dragon who only lasted for two series in the Den. She announced in 2019 that she was departing the show to support her sons in their entrepreneurial businesses and focus on charity work.

Nick Jenkins

Moonpig founder Nick Jenkins joined the Den in 2015 but again left just two years later to spend more time on his current portfolio of businesses.

In a statement shared at the time, he explained: "I have thoroughly enjoyed making Dragons' Den but I want to focus more on my portfolio of educational technology businesses and that would make it difficult to take on any more investments from the Den."

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Kelly Hoppen

The 'Queen of Taupe', British interior designer Kelly Hoppen became a dragon in 2013. However, just two years later, she announced she was quitting citing that she was too busy to commit time to the filming schedule, but added she had "thoroughly enjoyed" her time on the show.

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