Deborah Meaden on Dragons' Den and inset on horseback for B&B on the Sea

Dragons’ Den star Deborah Meaden has a husband who handles all chores while she is ‘incompetent’ in the kitchen

The entrepreneur currently stars in season 21 of the hit BBC show

Dragons’ Den star Deborah Meaden is known for being an exceptional businesswoman, but her husband handles all the chores.

The star made a fortune with family holiday business Weststar Holidays, where she also met her husband. In 2024, they are still happily together, but Deborah’s definitely not in charge of cooking or cleaning in their Somerset home.

Here’s everything you need to know about Dragons’ Den star Deborah Meaden‘s prolific career and her relationship with her husband.

Dragons' Den star Deborah Meaden in her 2024 season 21 promotional shot
Deborah Meaden ready for a hard day of grilling entrepreneurs (Credit: BBC Studios/Simon Pantling)

Who is Dragons’ Den star Deborah Meaden?

Deborah Meaden is a British businesswoman and investor on BBC One‘s Dragons’ Den.

She ran a multi-million-pound family holiday business, before completing a management buyout.

She’s best known for her appearances on the BBC business programme Dragons’ Den.

Super-savvy Deborah joined the show in August 2006, taking over from Rachel Elnaugh in the third series.

On Twitter, Deborah describes herself as “star of Dragons’ Den, Strictly Come Dancing contestant and Murder in Successville sidekick, and just a bit of business… actually quite a lot”.

She’s known for championing sustainability, and is an outspoken animal lover and vegan.

How old is Deborah Meaden?

Deborah Sonia Meaden was born on February 11, 1959. At the time of writing, she is 64 years old.

Deborah was born in Taunton, Somerset, but moved to Brightlingsea in Essex after her parents divorced.

She went to the Godolphin School, Salisbury and Trowbridge High School for Girls. After leaving school at 16, she studied Business at Brighton Technical College.

And she obviously learnt a thing or two!

Deborah Meaden carefully considering an investment
Deborah Meaden on Dragons’ Den carefully considering an investment (Credit: BBC)

How did Deborah Meaden make her money?

From a very early age, Deborah knew she wanted her own business.

After studying business at college, Deborah moved to Italy at the age of 19 where she set up a glass and ceramics export agency, which sold products to retailers including Harvey Nichols.

After this, Deborah embarked on a number of other business ventures including a franchise for Italian clothing company Stefanel and a prize bingo concession at Butlin’s.

She later 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.

Deborah then had several successful leisure and retail businesses, including a spell operating a Prize Bingo at Butlin’s in Minehead.

In 1988, Deborah 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.

In 1999, she led a management buyout and acquired the majority shareholding.

When she was managing director of Weststar Holidays, she sold the company in a deal worth £33 million while retaining a 23 per cent share.

Showing her entrepreneurial flair, she gave the business a makeover and sold her remaining stake for a further £83million.

She has since bought Fox Brothers and, in October 2011,  launched The Merchant Fox, an online store selling British-made luxury goods with provenance.

Dragons’ Den has enabled her to invest in all manner of businesses, from a wool manufacturer to a company producing baby products, an online antique valuation service and a recipe website.

Did Deborah Meaden have cancer?

In August 2022, Deborah Meaden revealed that she had been diagnosed with squamous cell carcinoma, a type of skin cancer.

She was diagnosed in 2015, after her makeup artist on Dragons’ Den noticed a suspicious small spot on her face around six weeks prior to her diagnosis.

Squamous cell carcinoma is the second most common form of skin cancer.

Deborah explained how she was incredibly lucky to have caught the cancer early.

The TV star says she now has to take greater care when she’s outside in the sunshine and always wears Factor 50.

She now urges people to seek medical help if they are concerned.

Deborah Meaden at the Chelsea Flower Show in 2022
Deborah, who champions the natural world, seen here at the Chelsea Flower Show in 2022 (Credit: John Rainford/Cover Images)

Did Dragons’ Den star Deborah Meaden appear on Strictly?

Deborah took part in the 11th series of Strictly Come Dancing in 2013.

She was partnered with professional dancer Robin Windsor.

She was eliminated from the show on October 26 2013 in week five.

Abbey Clancy went on to win the series.

Does Deborah Meaden have a husband and kids?

Deborah Meaden has been married to husband Paul Farmer for 30 years. They met in the summer of 1985, when he worked at Weststar during his university break.

They briefly separated when she took a trip to Venezuela, but reunited when she returned to London and married in 1993.

Deborah has revealed Paul is in charge of domestic chores including cooking and cleaning. She told The Telegraph in 2011 that she didn’t do any domestic chores at all, leaving it all to Paul.

She said: “I hate cleaning so as a student I used to work in a bar at night in order to pay someone to clean my flat. I’ve never told anyone that. I still don’t do any domestic chores; my husband Paul is in charge. It sounds terrible, doesn’t it?”

In 2023’s B&B by the Sea, Deborah admitted she was “incompetent as a chef” and her kitchen at home was built around Paul. She further proved her case with a disastrous showing in Celebrity Bake Off in 2023.

Deborah and Paul live together in a Somerset farmhouse, where they house a vast array of animals! These include two cats, three dogs, six horses, three pigs, four sheep, numerous birds and “three very angry geese”.

The pair have do not have children.

Dragons' Den star Deborah Meaden on horseback for B&B on the Sea
Deborah Meaden horsing around for B&B on the Sea (Credit: BBC Northern Ireland)

Is Deborah Meaden vegan?

Dragons’ Den star Deborah Meaden is indeed vegan. She completed Veganuary in 2020 and the change stuck.

She told The Mirror: “I decided to do Veganuary two years ago and thought, ‘I like this and don’t want to eat meat’. I feel fitter and better in my soul because I’ve reduced the impact on the planet.”

However, she admits she misses one particular dairy product. In fact, she’s even willing to fund a vegan alternative!

She continued: “I miss cheese. If anyone can come up with a vegan stilton I’ll throw money at them!”

How rich is Deborah Meaden? How much is she worth?

She’s definitely got the cash to spend on a vegan cheese venture!

According to reports, Deborah has a net worth of £50 million.

Her net worth puts her roughly in the middle of the Dragons’ Den rich list. Her co-star Peter Jones is the richest of the Dragons, with a net worth of more than a billion pounds. Sara Davies, in comparison, has a paltry 38 million.

Read more: Dragons’ Den controversies – ‘Fakery’ row, sexist pitch and offering to buy a baby

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Dragons’ Den continues on Thursdays on BBC One at 8pm.

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Helen Fear
TV Editor