Duncan Bannatyne

BBC Dragon, the Gruff Scottish Dragon with a good heart!


Known for his role as an investor on the popular TV show, Dragons' Den.

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About Duncan Bannatyne


Duncan Bannatyne has an honest and open approach to speaking. He has had an intriguing career and his stories serve as inspiration to those looking to set up their own businesses. Despite the fact he speaks his mind, his inner warmth and humour are apparent.

He is a successful businessman and is one of the stars of the popular BBC TV series Dragons Den. He has a chain of well-known health clubs and is involved in multiple other businesses, with his main areas of business interest being property, hotels, media, transport and stage schools. Despite the fact Duncan is now a successful multimillionaire, he came from humble beginnings and is a true example of entrepreneurial spirit overcoming adversity.

Early Life

Bannatyne was born in Clydebank on February 2nd 1949. He started showing an interest in earning money at a young age; when his mother told him she could not afford to buy him the bicycle he wanted, he went out and arranged a job as a paper boy for himself. Needless to say, he had soon saved up and purchased the bike he wanted.

The Navy

When Duncan was 15, he applied to join the Royal Navy as a junior 2nd class engineering mechanic stoker. At the time he felt that this would be a good opportunity to lay the foundations of a career and he began work based at RNTE Shotley near Ipswich. Having signed up for twelve years of service, Duncan ended up leaving at the age of 20 having been dishonourably discharged for threatening to push an officer off a jetty. Duncan has explained that this incident was caused by a couple of factors, one being his perception of the attitude of the officer towards the men and the other being that he was growing increasingly dissatisfied with Navy life. After spending several months in a military detention centre, Duncan was free to pursue a new career.

From Ship to Ice Cream Van

When Duncan settled in Stockton-On-Tees after a short time in Jersey, he started his first business off by buying an ice cream van. His ice creams soon became popular locally and he was soon able to expand his business and invest in more vans. He eventually sold the ice cream business and used his profits to start up in the care home industry.

From Ice Cream to Fitness Empire

Since his ice cream success, there has been no stopping Duncan. He has run and then sold a successful nursery chain as well as care homes. He currently owns Bannatynes, which is the largest independent health club chain in the UK. He works in the bar, hotel and property industries and opened the luxury Bannatyne Spa Hotel in Hastings in October 2008, yet another mark of his success in what were troubled financial times for some.

Personal and Charitable Interests

Duncan enjoys sports and spends his spare time water skiing, scuba diving, climbing and running. He has worked with UNICEF and Scottish International Relief for many years and has even set up a hospice in Romania for children with HIV and AIDS. He was awarded an OBE in 2004 in recognition of his services to charity. He is a steadfast anti-smoking campaigner.

Speaking Topics


  • Anyone Can Do It
  • Dragon's Den
  • Being a serial entrepreneur

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Books By Duncan Bannatyne


  • Dragons' Den: Success, From Pitch to Profit, 2007 (with Deborah Meaden, Peter Jones and Richard Farleigh)
  • Dragons' Den: Your Road to Success (Quick Reads), 2009 (with Deborah Meaden, Peter Jones and Theo Paphitis)
  • How To Be Smart With Your Time: Expert Advice from the Star of Dragons' Den, 2010
  • 43 Mistakes Businesses Make...and How to Avoid Them: Your Expert Guide to Better Business, 2011
  • Wake Up and Change Your Life, 2008
  • 37 Questions Every Business Should Be Able to Answer, 2012
  • Anyone Can Do It: My Story, 2006

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