• September 2017

Theo speaks to S Magazine about his favourite photo

Dragons’ Den star Theo Paphitis: My favourite photograph

FORMER Dragons’ Den star Theo, 57, recalls moving from Cyprus to the back streets of Manchester – a change that transformed his life.

By Danny Scott

Theo Paphitis

‘This photo was taken at our house in Manchester in 1966’

“This photo was taken at our house in Manchester in 1966. I was born in Cyprus, but my family moved to England when I was about six. That was a long way for a little kid and I can still remember parts of that journey like it was yesterday.In Cyprus, our house was right on the beach. I could walk out of our front door, cross a road and there was the sea. We arrived in Gorton, Manchester, and our home was like Coronation Street. No kidding. Back-to-back terraces, with the khazi at the bottom of the garden.

Both my parents had jobs, so each morning they’d give me and my brothers sixpence each and send us off to school. We finished school at about 4pm, but Mum and Dad wouldn’t be back till 7.30pm. The sixpence was for dinner – sausage and chips from the chippy – and then we’d have three hours to kill.It’s crazy when you think back; we were just little kids and we were left to our own devices. But that taught me some great life lessons – don’t moan, just get on with it. If there’s a problem and no one’s there to sort it, you sort it yourself.

A few months after we arrived, my mum announced that we were all going to have our picture taken. We hardly had any money, but, somehow, she managed to hire a photographer to come round to the house. What you see in that picture is our house in Gorton. I can still remember that lino on the floor – we could never afford carpet.

The idea of the pictures was that we’d have something to send back to the family in Cyprus. We still had lots of relatives over there and we wanted to show them, ‘Look, we’ve arrived in England. We’ve got a house and we’re doing OK.’

Fav photo

‘I was born in Cyprus, but my family moved to England when I was about six’

Can I see myself in that picture? Well, yes and no. There’s always a lot of sadness when you break away from your family, but I can also see a boy who was beginning to find his place in the world. I always look at that photo and think, ‘There’s a young man who’s master of his domain.’ At least he thinks he is.It wasn’t too long after the picture was taken that my parents split up and I moved down to London with my mum. Again, you’ve got that big jump: from Cyprus to Manchester, from Manchester to London. I thought Manchester was a big city, but London was another level.

On top of that, it was also becoming clear that I was dyslexic. It would have been easy to give up, but that’s not me. Yeah, those teenage years weren’t always easy, but so what. I’d already got that work ethic and that independence.

I was going to build a life for myself. And, more important than that, I was going to drive a nice car.

Every boy I knew back then loved cars. I used to see Triumph TR7s and E-Type Jags, and I used to think, ‘One day, I’m gonna have one of those.’ I remember seeing an E-Type and walking round it 40 or 50 times. Now, there’s one in the garage. In fact, there’s quite a few cars in the garage.

And it all started – everything that’s happened to me – with that photo. That photo was the beginning of my life. The crazy thing is, even today, it doesn’t feel real. I look at the little kid and wonder how I ended up here.

What an amazing journey.”

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