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Duncan Bannatyne

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Duncan Bannatyne
Duncan Bannatyne in Felixstowe 2009.jpg
Bannatyne judging at a Bathing Beauty contest in Felixstowe, Suffolk
Born (1949-02-02) 2 February 1949 (age 68)
Clydebank, Scotland
Occupation Entrepreneur, investor, television presenter
Known for Dragons' Den
Net worth Increase GB£220 million
Spouse(s) Nigora Whitehorn (m. 2017)
Joanne McCue (m. 2006-2012)
Gail Brodie (m. 1983)
Children 6

Duncan Walker Bannatyne, OBE (born 2 February 1949),[1] is a Scottish entrepreneur, philanthropist and author. His business interests include hotels, health clubs, spas, media, TV, stage schools, property and transport. He is most famous for his appearance as a business angel on the BBC programme Dragons' Den. He was appointed an OBE for his contribution to charity. He has written seven books.

In May 2013, it was reported that Bannatyne was £122m in debt, however he said this is a company debt and the company has assets of £230m.[2]

Early life

Bannatyne was born in Dalmuir west of Glasgow. His father Bill had served in the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders in World War II and worked on the Burma Railway after being captured by the Japanese following the Fall of Singapore, he then worked in the foundry at the Clydebank Singer plant. As a child Duncan lived in one room with his parents and siblings in a large house shared with 6 other families. He attended Dalmuir Primary School where he displayed a talent for arithmetic and won a place at Clydebank High School after passing the Eleven plus exam. Most pupils owned a bicycle so he resolved to earn the money to buy one for himself. The local newsagent was not interested in employing him so she challenged him to find 100 new customers in return for a paper round. He called her bluff by returning with 100 names, but later reflected that it would have been more entrepreneurial to have sold the list. He only enjoyed PE and woodwork at the High School and left at 15 without any qualifications.[3]

In 1964 after a few weeks working for a local cabinet-maker he joined the Royal Navy, initially enlisting for twelve years as a junior second class engineering mechanic (stoker) at RNTE Shotley near Ipswich, better known as the boys' training establishment HMS Ganges. He served in the Navy for several years including a spell on the aircraft carrier HMS Eagle, before throwing an officer off a boat landing jetty in Scotland and receiving a dishonourable discharge. In his autobiography he claims this was in part a reaction to this officer's abuse of his authority, in part a dare by his shipmates and in part a way of getting out of the Navy, with which he had become disillusioned. Bannatyne was nineteen years old when this happened. After the incident he had to serve nine months in Colchester military detention centre before being discharged aged 20.[3] He later spent ten days in Glasgow's Barlinnie prison for not paying a £10 fine in relation to a charge of breach of the peace and resisting arrest.[4][5]


Bannatyne spent his twenties moving from one job to another. Upon his return to Clydebank he trained as an agricultural vehicle fitter and then travelled around the country repairing tractors. He lived on the island of Jersey for four years from 1974 where he gained an HGV licence and earned a living through several jobs including deckchair attendant, ice cream seller and hospital porter. He also surfed, partied and met his first wife on the island. With Jersey's difficult business climate for outsiders, at age 29 Bannatyne and his wife moved to Stockton-on-Tees in North East England. He has stated that he was poor and did not have a bank account until the age of 30.[6]

His business career began almost immediately after his move to Stockton-on-Tees with an ice cream van purchased for £450.[7] He soon expanded by buying more vans during the period of the Glasgow Ice Cream Wars about which he made comment in a newspaper interview "I got by using the CB radio. It was mainly bluster, but someone did get hospitalised."[8] He eventually sold the business for £28,000, founding a nursing home business called Quality Care Homes which he then sold for £26 million[7] in 1997 and children's nursery chain Just Learning for £12 million.[9] The Just Learning chief executive during the 1992–97 period was Conservative MP Michael Fallon.[10]

Bannatyne has since expanded into health clubs, with Bannatyne's Health Clubs chain to his name, and also bars, hotels and property. He acquired 26 health clubs from Hilton Hotels in August 2006 at a price of £92 million.[7] Bannatyne's is now the largest independent chain of health clubs in the United Kingdom. In May 2010, he added the Charlton House Hotel and Spa in Somerset to the portfolio, with the view to adding more spa facilities and treatment rooms.[11]

In October 2008, he opened the £12 million "Bannatyne Spa Hotel" in Hastings.[7]

In December 2009, Bannatyne joined the UK's largest monthly business magazine Business Matters as a monthly columnist alongside former Apprentice winner Michelle Dewberry.[12]

His wealth as of 2011 was estimated at £430 million by the Sunday Times Rich List.[13] In 2012, the Sunday Times Rich List listed him as equal 869th with a worth of £85 million. His net worth dropped because of divorce and a drop in property values at his Bannatyne Fitness chain, which made a £16.2 million loss in 2011 after exceptional one off write downs. His wealth as of 2016 was estimated at £200 million by the Sunday Times Rich List.

In 2016 Bannatyne created controversy when he appeared to have exploited Sir Terry Wogan's death to promote his health clubs.[14]

Bannatyne has written seven books: Anyone Can Do It, Wake Up and Change Your Life, How to be Smart With Your Money, How to be Smart With Your Time, 43 Mistakes Businesses Make, 37 Questions Everyone in Business Needs to Answer, and Riding The Storm.


From 2005 until 2015, Duncan was a Dragon on the BBC television series Dragons' Den. During his time on the show he invested in 36 businesses.

In 2015, Bannatyne took part in the fifteenth series of I'm a Celebrity...Get Me Out of Here!. His fee for taking part in the show was donated to the Operation Smile charity.

Charity works

Bannatyne received his OBE partly in recognition for his work with charities such as Mary's meals.[15] He has funded several projects over a ten-year period in Romania, notably Casa Bannatyne in Târgu-Mureş, a hospice for orphans with HIV and AIDS in which he invested £80,000. In March 2008, he established the Bannatyne Charitable Foundation with a personal injection of £1,000,000.[16]

On 19 May 2008, Bannatyne added his support to the launch of the Geared for Giving Campaign at the House of Commons to encourage UK business leaders to set up and promote a Workplace Giving scheme to benefit UK registered charities with tax effective donations through employees' pay. He then helped to promote Clydesdale Bank's and Yorkshire Bank's efforts to promote the programme through ATM (Automated Teller Machine) rolls. "They are really going for it, over 20 per cent of their employees are giving money through this system," Bannatyne says.[17]

On 29 August 2008, Bannatyne appeared on television programme Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?, raising £20,000 for charity NCH.

He became President of the charity No Smoking Day in October 2008. The charity runs the annual health awareness campaign – helping people who want to stop smoking.[18]

Bannatyne is a trustee of Comic Relief and in November 2008 he travelled to Ethiopia with other trustees of Comic Relief.[citation needed]

In August 2010, he agreed to become Patron of PC David Rathband's Blue Lamp Foundation, a charity established by the Northumbria Police Constable David Rathband, who was blinded by gunshot wounds in the 2010 Northumbria Police manhunt.[19]


Bannatyne has previously supported the Conservative Party under Margaret Thatcher, then switched to support the Labour Party under Tony Blair and Gordon Brown. This is evidenced in a 2008 promotional video supporting Brown.[20]

On appearing on the Question Time panel on 7 February 2008, he revealed having been a donor to the Labour Party under Blair. He also voiced his support for Brown, but criticised the Cabinet for what he described as "petty squabbles based on personal ambition".[21] In March 2011, Bannatyne appeared to switch political affiliations again, by backing certain measures imposed in Chancellor George Osborne's budget even though he criticised the government a few months earlier.[22]

In April 2015, only a week after signing a letter to The Daily Telegraph supporting the Conservative Party in the 2015 General Election, he reversed his position, and pledged his vote to Labour, praising leader Ed Miliband's "courage" in pledging to scrap non-domiciled tax status.[23]

Personal life

Bannatyne proposed to Nigora Whitehorn in Monaco in March 2016.[24] The couple married in Portugal on 3 June 2017.[25] Bannatyne has four children by his first wife, Gail (m. 1983[26]): Hollie, Abigail, Jennifer and Eve; two with his second wife, Joanne (m. 2006): Emily (b. 1999)[27] and Thomas (b. 2002).[28] He also has two grandchildren, Ava and Austin, from his eldest daughter.[29] Bannatyne met Joanne McCue when she worked for him as a junior nurse at Quality Care Homes in 1992; proposed to her in Barbados in early March 2006, and married her on 11 November 2006 at St Mary's Church in Norton.[30] Celebrities at the wedding ceremony included Anna Ryder Richardson, Cherie Lunghi, Gary McCausland, Dragons' Den presenter Evan Davis and fellow Dragons Theo Paphitis, Richard Farleigh, Simon Woodroffe and Deborah Meaden. Pop star Marc Almond then performed for 200 guests in the warehouse next to his company's head office. Joanne filed for divorce in 2010, and divorce proceedings were finalized in January 2013.[31][32]

Bannatyne owns a house in Wynyard Park, in the northeast of England[33] and a holiday villa in Mougins, near Cannes.[34] He currently lives in Portugal.[citation needed] Bannatyne was awarded an honorary Doctorate of Science (D.Sc.) by Glasgow Caledonian University on 5 July 2006 for services to business and charity. He was also awarded an honorary Doctorate of Business Administration (DBA) from Teesside University, on 6 February 2009.

His 60th birthday was celebrated at Murano's in London, with celebrities such as David Coulthard, James Caan, Theo Paphitis and Anna Ryder Richardson. A second party was held in the North East and was headlined by UK soul singer Beverley Knight and featured Chesney Hawkes, with the festivities occurring in a converted warehouse in Darlington, County Durham.[35][36] He openly discussed having had cosmetic surgery under his eyes on The Graham Norton Show;[37] had an acting role in the Tyne Tees Television comedy pilot Girl's Club where amongst other actors, he performed alongside the actress Georgia Taylor.[38] In 2011, he revealed that he suffers from prosopagnosia.[39] On 1 October 2012, Bannatyne was taken to hospital after a suspected heart attack.[40]


  1. ^ Barber, Lynn (18 February 2007). "Duncan Bannatyne interview". The Observer. London. Retrieved 10 November 2008. 
  2. ^ Kay, Richard (14 May 2013). "Dragons' Den star Duncan Bannatyne sees £430m health club fortune vanish from the Rich List as debts hit £122m". Daily Mail. London. 
  3. ^ a b Duncan Bannatyne (3 September 2007). Anyone Can Do It:My Story. Orion Publishing Group. ISBN 0-7528-8189-2. 
  4. ^ "In the Dragons' Den with God". Sunday Herald. 6 September 2008. Archived from the original on 6 December 2008. Retrieved 23 March 2010. 
  5. ^ "Would I Lie To You Series 1 Episode 1". 
  6. ^ Direct quote from Bannatyne from Dragon's Den, 14 July 2010. BBC. Retrieved on 28 March 2012.
  7. ^ a b c d About Duncan - The Bannatyne Group
  8. ^ "Business profile: Duncan is ready for his close-up". The Daily Telegraph. London. 28 November 2004. Retrieved 3 August 2011. 
  9. ^ "Driven Restless And A Bit Arrogant But Definitely Not The Retiring Kind". Darlington and Stockton Times. 4 November 2006. Retrieved 23 March 2010. 
  10. ^ Holland, Tiffany (14 September 2012). "Profile: Michael Fallon, Minister for business". Retrieved 10 October 2012. 
  11. ^ "Duncan Bannatyne invests in Somerset". 13 May 2010. Retrieved 13 May 2010. 
  12. ^ "Bannatyne & Dewberry join Business Matters". Business Matters. 17 November 2009. Retrieved 17 November 2009. 
  13. ^ Coxon, Ian (20 May 2011). "The wealthiest in film and TV". London: Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 1 November 2011. 
  14. ^
  15. ^ Mary's Meals charity 'feeding 500,000 children a day' - 5 February 2011
  16. ^ Morris, Sylvia (23 April 2008). "Duncan Bannatyne: Me & my money". Retrieved 12 October 2012. 
  17. ^ Mills, David (16 December 2010). "A charitable dragon: Why Duncan Bannatyne is geared for giving". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 12 October 2012. 
  18. ^ "Smokers can use Facebook to quit". The Daily Telegraph. London. 10 March 2010. Retrieved 12 October 2012. 
  19. ^ Salisbury-Jones, Daniel (1 July 2012). "TV Dragon Duncan Bannatyne Plays Blind Football For PC Rathband's Blue Lamp Foundation". Archived from the original on 3 July 2012. Retrieved 10 October 2012. 
  20. ^ "Dragon Bannatyne backs Brown". BBC News. 26 September 2008. Retrieved 23 March 2010. 
  21. ^ "This Week's Panel, BBC News' Question Time website". BBC News. 6 February 2008. Retrieved 23 March 2010. 
  22. ^ "Budget 2011: Dragons' Den star backs Osborne". BBC News. 24 March 2011. 
  23. ^ Stone, Jon (8 April 2015). "Duncan Bannatyne is voting for Ed Miliband because of his pledge to take on non-dom tax status". The Independent. Retrieved 2015-04-08. Dragon’s Den star Duncan Bannatyne has said he will vote Labour because of Ed Miliband’s “courage” in pledging to scrap non-domiciled tax status. 
  24. ^ "PICTURED: The moment Duncan Bannatyne proposes to Nigora Whitehead". Mail Online. 
  25. ^, Sarah Robertson for (4 June 2017). "Former Dragon's Den star Duncan Bannatyne weds Nigora Whitehorn". Metro. 
  26. ^ Genes Reunited from UK official records, Retrieved 30 June 2013
  27. ^ Genes Reunited from UK official records, Retrieved 30 June 2013
  28. ^ Genes Reunited from UK official records, Retrieved 30 June 2013
  29. ^ "Duncan Bannatyne: The life of me". London: GoldenMap. 20 August 2011. 
  30. ^ "Driven Restless And A Bit Arrogant But Definitely Not The Retiring Kind (from Darlington and Stockton Times)". 4 November 2006. Retrieved 23 March 2010. 
  31. ^ Walker, Andy (8 February 2013). "Joanne McCue has plans to operate from Darlington Mowden Park's new home". Darlington and Stockton Times. Retrieved 30 June 2013. 
  32. ^ Walker, Tim (8 March 2012). "Dragons' Den star Duncan Bannatyne says 'I'm out' after divorce". The Daily Telegraph. London. Retrieved 2 October 2012. 
  33. ^ "Celebrity Homes for Sale". The Daily Telegraph. London. 24 May 2013. 
  34. ^ White, Richard (20 August 2009). "Have a hol in Britain while I'm in.. France". The Sun. London. 
  35. ^ Bannatyne tells birthday guests: I will never retire Monday 9 February 2009. The Northern Echo (9 February 2009). Retrieved on 28 March 2012.
  36. ^ Impact Technical: Case Studies – Duncan Bannatyne's 60th Birthday Celebrations, 7 February 2009 – Darlington Archived 26 August 2014 at the Wayback Machine.
  37. ^ The Graham Norton Show, 7 May 2009.
  38. ^ Georgia Taylor website: Liz (Georgia) and Julie (Lucy Blackie) pitch their night club idea to Dragon Duncan Bannatyne. (downloadable clip) Archived 2 August 2012 at Retrieved on 28 March 2012.
  39. ^ Tobin, Lucy (20 June 2011). "Researchers explore problems of 'face blindness'". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 23 July 2012. 
  40. ^ "Duncan Bannatyne: Dragons' Den star 'suffers heart scare'". BBC News. 1 October 2012. Retrieved 1 October 2012. 

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