BBC removes Dragons’ Den episode off iPlayer to review concerns about ME product

Credit: BBC

The BBC has taken an episode of Dragons’ Den off iPlayer after concerns were raised about a myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME) product.

Campaigners said businesswoman Giselle Boxer made “unfounded claims” on the show after she was shown in series 21 securing an investment from entrepreneur and podcaster Steven Bartlett.

On Thursday, a BBC spokesperson told ITV news: “We’re taking the concerns raised seriously, so we are reviewing the episode and therefore it’s currently not available on iPlayer.”

The broadcaster had earlier defended the programme, saying it “features products from entrepreneurs and is not an endorsement of them” and Ms Boxer is sharing a “personal experience that led to a business creation”.

In the episode, which aired last week, Ms Boxer said she had used “diet, acupuncture, Chinese herbs and ear seeds” to aid her recovery from ME, and had turned the latter idea into the brand Acu Seeds.

What is ME?

ME, also known as chronic fatigue syndrome, is described by the NHS as a "long-term condition with a wide range of symptoms".

The ME Association adds that ME is a "multi-system disease that can have a devastating impact on functional ability and quality of life".

Women are more likely to develop ME, but the condition can affect anyone, including children.

ME can make it hard for people to carry out everyday tasks by causing symptoms, such as extreme tiredness, muscle or joint pain and headaches.

An open letter, organised by Action for ME, to the chairs of two House of Commons select committees said it was “very concerned” about the way in which her pitch was presented.

The charity also said on X, formerly Twitter, that its chief executive, Sonya Chowdhury, has written to BBC director-general Tim Davie to voice “concerns over the episode”.

Ms Boxer's pitch to the Dragons produced a historic moment for the show as all six put in an offer for her Acu Seeds product, which is described as a “DIY needle-free ear acupuncture for anxiety, migraines, hormonal issues, insomnia, weight loss and more”.

After hearing their offers, she decided to pick Bartlett to invest in her business.

Following the episode, a joint letter signed by ME campaign groups was sent to Culture, Media and Sport Committee chairwoman Dame Caroline Dinenage and Health and Social Care Committee chairman Steve Brine.

The groups said that, as the episode was aired in prime time on BBC One, they were concerned that a larger audience would have heard the pitch which they alleged “amounts to an unfounded claim that this form of alternative medicine can cure ME”.

It added: “Sadly, there is currently no known effective treatment for ME. There has been a distinct paucity of research into this disease, compared to other long-term conditions, which means that ME is still without a cure.

“As a result, we remind people to only take medical advice from appropriately qualified healthcare professionals and to ensure that any treatment decisions are evidence-based and fully informed.”

The letter also said broadcasters must make “every effort to ensure that content is accurate and does not contain misleading and potentially dangerous information”.

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