Branson examines the life and adventures of businessman Richard Branson sixteen days before his historic first flight into space. Blending insights from family members, business associates, and journalists with decades of archival and home video footage, the series unveils the man behind the many ventures and adventures.
June 25, 2021. With 16 days to go before Richard Branson flies into space, the entrepreneur reflects on his early years and the influence of his iconoclasic mother. As a dyslexic teenager, Branson left school to create a magazine called Student, which led to a mail-order record business and, eventually, Virgin Records and Virgin megastores.
The episode tracks the launch of Virgin Atlantic and Branson's efforts to attract media attention to his brand, including an attempt to break the trans-Atlantic speed record in a boat, and his death-defying balloon adventure across the Atlantic in 1986.
The episode chronicles Virgin Atlantic's battle with British Airways, ending in a libel suit win for Branson. From outsider to wealthy capitalist, Branson continues to push for world records and promotional attention for his company, setting off on a nail-biting Pacific Ocean balloon voyage. He announces plans to develop a spaceflight company to take commercial passengers into space, beginning a decade long pursuit.
The series finale tracks the arduous history of Virgin Galactic, from conception to test flights, and the controversial bid from Virgin Atlantic to obtain government support for the airline during the Covid-19 pandemic. As the first passenger flight of Virgin Galactic approaches, Branson defends the benefits of privately funded space exploration and the paradoxes around Virgin's eco-messaging. Set for July 11, 2021, the launch day follows 17 years of research, testing, accidents, and setbacks, culminating in a successful flight in which Branson realizes his ultimate dream.