How Sophie Dahl sparked fury after asking for £500k to save Roald Dahls hut

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The author and former model, 44, has followed in the footsteps of the legendary British author. Like her grandfather, Sophie has penned a string of popular children’s books, the latest of which was published last month. The Worst Sleepover in the World’, a picture book about a child’s chaotic night at her friend’s house, is illustrated by Luciano Lozano. This morning Sophie will be getting into the festive spirit as she appears on ‘Saturday Kitchen’ on BBC One.

The cooking show’s regular host Matt Tebbutt welcomes fellow chefs Jane Baxter and Tommy Banks, as well as wine expert Olly Smith who joins via video link.

Sophie has previously spoken of her fondness for her grandfather and his amazing literary legacy.

The writer even once put out a call to the public to help conserve the shed where Roald wrote his books.

However, her appeal back in 2011 for people to help stump up £500,000, did not go as well as she had hoped.

The writer took to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme to ask fans of her grandfather to dig into their pockets, drawing a major backlash.

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The huge sum of money was necessary, she said, to conserve the hut where Roald’s magic happened.

Sophie wanted to shift the shed from the family’s back garden, where it was rotting, into the Roald Dahl Museum and Story Centre.

The anger at Sophie’s appeal was highlighted by the journalist Hugo Gye in an article for the Daily Mail.

He wrote: “Perhaps she should have realised that in tough economic times, it doesn’t look too good to go asking the public for money.”

The public’s fury, he said, rested on the huge wealth that Sophie’s family had access to multiple income streams.

The Dahls still earn royalties from Roald’s much-loved books, which include classics like ‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory’ and ‘James and the Giant Peach’.

Sophie and her musician husband Jamie Cullum were also estimated to be worth around £5million each at the time.

Many people vented their fury at Sophie’s call for cash on social media, highlighting her apparent wealth.

On Twitter, the actor and director Nicholas Pegg wrote: “Top model (& Jamie Cullum’s wife) Sophie Dahl wants us to raise £0.5 million to save her bestselling grandpa’s shed. Am I missing something?”

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He later added: “A preposterously wealthy family pleading for cash for its legacy? It sounds like a lost Dahl story!”

Amelia Foster, director of the Dahl Museum, defended the family, saying they had already sunk a significant amount of cash into conserving the shed.

She told the BBC: “We want to make sure that Roald Dahl fans in the future are able to see the hut and to do that we really need to put the work and the time in now.”

The interior of the shed, which Roald referred to as “my little nest, my womb”, was eventually reconstructed at the museum.

The hut was conserved along with the mementoes that Roald kept in the small building to inspire his writing.

‘Saturday Kitchen’ is on BBC One from 10am-11:30am today.

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