Deborah Meaden and her sisters

by Caroline Virr and Victoria Young on Thursday, 2 April 2009

Deborah Meaden, 50, lives with her husband in Somerset. She also has an older sister, Gail, 53

“My life has changed dramatically since Dragons’ Den, and having three sisters who can tell me when to get back in my box is helpful. Everyone tells you how brilliant you are in TV, and you can get carried away.

I really like Emma and Cass, and because of the age difference, I’ve always seen them for the people they are. We share the same strong work ethic and a wicked sense of humour.
Before we married in 1993, Paul and I temporarily split and I went travelling with Emma to Venezuela. I loved being with someone who understood me. Knowing that whatever advice she gave, she had my best interests at heart, was and still is a very confident feeling.

Paul hates the limelight, so invariably I’ll take Gail, Emma and Cass to showbiz events. They know who’s who, which can be handy!”

Filming for the new series of Dragons’ Den begins in April

Emma Meaden, 40, lives in north London

“When I was 19, I ran a fish and chip shop for Deborah – the only bright thing about it was having Deborah as my boss. Now we’re very close, and she has supported me emotionally in so many ways. When I got divorced, I called her first and stayed with her for six months. Deborah’s fantastic to talk to because she’s honest and straight talking.

Her TV success has changed her life, but she hasn’t changed at all. Deborah’s just Deborah and I love that about her.”

Cass Stainton, 36, lives in West London

“Seeing your sister become a business success is inspirational when you’re young, and it gave me real drive to achieve something. As a teenager, I worked summer jobs for Deborah when she was running the family business. As a family member, I had to go that extra mile because I would have been made an example of. As a boss, she’s firm but fair, and she employs me now to do the PR for some of her Dragons’ Den entrepreneurs.

Deborah’s TV persona is very different to her real-life one. Viewers see her as curt and abrupt, but she’s much softer in reality. She’s teetotal, but that doesn’t stop her being the life and soul at a party.”

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