HAMPSHIRE’S Itchen Valley Brewery has been rescued from the brink of collapse after winning the backing of celebrity businessman Sir Gerry Robinson.

The management guru chose to invest in the New Alresford business in the first episode of new Channel Four series Gerry’s Big Decision.

The brewery, owned by Malcolm Gray, 65, and his partner Jane Fuller, 50, had almost folded after being unable to meet the rising cost of raw materials and energy bills used in producing its award-winning ales, such as Godfather and Pure Gold beers.

Sir Gerry arrived to find the brewery’s staff sniping at one another, claiming boss Malcom had run out of ideas and lacked the skills needed to run the business.

Daily Echo: Click below to see a video of today's headlines in sixty seconds

The former boss of Granada Television concluded Malcolm was “totally incapable of running it properly” and put girlfriend Jane, a university administrator, in charge for a week.

Her “capacity to make things happen and see things in a straight forward way”

won over Sir Gerry who had described the business as a “total shambles”.

He told the couple: “Against my better judgement in lots of ways I have decided to help”.

Now with a boost of up to £150,000 of Sir Gerry’s own cash the couple say they are back up and running and more positive about surviving the recession.

The investment has allowed them to carry on making beer as well as saving six full time jobs.

“It was good to have an outside pair of eyes just come into the business and point out things which we could be doing better,” said Jane, who has become the brewery’s managing director.

“Sir Gerry was really nice and we have been able to start producing beer again.

We have also seen our bottled beers really become popular and fly off the shelves.”

Jane said the financial boost had allowed the team to concentrate on doing what it does best – “brewing superb real ales”.

“Everybody is working hard and there is a real buzz about the team,” she said.

“There is still a lot of work to be done and Itchen Valley is not out of the woods yet but daylight is now visible.”

As part of the new series, two businesses have to persuade Sir Gerry to invest his money into their company and he can choose to help one of them, both of them, or neither of them.

The Itchen Valley firm was competing against O’Hanlon’s brewery in Devon for Sir Gerry’s help. In the end Sir Gerry chose to help both struggling businesses.

Filming for the show took place in February.