Quickfire with entrepreneur Sir Richard Branson

From budgies to banking: read all about Sir Richard Branson in his new autobiography.
From budgies to banking: read all about Sir Richard Branson in his new autobiography

Guilty pleasure? Fruit and nut chocolate.

Where is home? The British Virgin Islands.

Career plan B? A writer.

Who would play you in a movie of your life? Eddie Redmayne – he’s a wonderful British actor and a very nice guy who also likes tennis.

Biggest bugbear? That progress in striving for equal rights globally is too slow.

As a child you wanted to be… An explorer.

Earliest memory? When I was four, my mother insisted that I get out of the car and find my own way home. Although I got lost, I made it home eventually. It taught me the value of independence at an early age.

Your best quality? I love to listen and look for the best in people.

And your worst? I have trouble saying no – it’s got me into many precarious situations in my life, but I wouldn’t change a thing.

Last meal on earth? My wife’s apple crumble.

Dream dinner-party guests? Am I only allowed one party? Sir Winston Churchill, Ada Lovelace, Elvis Presley, Nelson Mandela, Amelia Earhart, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Elizabeth Taylor, Andrew Carnegie, Neil Armstrong and Malala Yousafzai.

Advice to teenage self? If your dreams don’t scare you, they’re not big enough.

Secret skill? I can sabre a bottle of champagne with a sword. Not a very practical skill, but fun at parties.

What do you see when you look in the mirror? A proud husband, father and grand-dude.

Starstruck moment? Meeting Mick Jagger to interview him at his house when I was a young teen.

Career highlight? I think that the best is yet to come.

Big break? Signing Mike Oldfield to Virgin Records and releasing Tubular Bells.

Favourite tipple? Tea, white, no sugar and often.

Hangover cure? Exercise – tennis, kitesurfing, walking, swimming, you name it.

What did you have for breakfast today? Fruit salad and muesli.

Top of your bucket list? To go to space with Virgin Galactic.

Biggest inspiration? My mother, Eve Branson.

One thing that would make your life better? Combating climate change, so that I know my grandchildren and future generations will be able to enjoy this beautiful planet as much as I do.

Philosophy? Screw it, let’s do it.

Your idea of a perfect day? Spent with family and friends on Necker Island.

Worst job you’ve ever done? Breeding budgies – they multiplied faster than we could sell them.

Last film that made you cry? Okja.

Where would you time travel to? The heyday of Sir Ernest Henry Shackleton, so that I could join him on his epic adventures.

First record you bought? Sir Cliff Richard’s ‘Bachelor Boy’. I can still sing all the lyrics.

Favourite book? Peter Pan by J M Barrie.

Biggest extravagance? Travel.

Biggest regret? I don’t have any regrets.

Style icon? I don’t dress to be like anyone else, I dress for comfort, which is great for productivity.

Celebrity crush? Jane Fonda.

Happiness is… Finding the time to be, not do.

Richard’s new autobiography, Finding My Virginity, is published by Virgin Books, price £25. To order a copy for £20 until 31 December, go to you-bookshop.co.uk or call 0844 571 0640. Free p&p on orders over £15. 

By Miranda Thompson