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Billionaire Richard Branson, who founded the Virgin Group in the 1970s, will be the subject of a new docuseries on HBO titled Branson—featuring interviews with the man himself.
"Sixteen days before Richard Branson is scheduled to make a potentially historic flight as the first passenger to reach space in his own spacecraft in July 2021, the billionaire entrepreneur sits down for a conversation with acclaimed filmmaker Chris Smith, in light of the risk that lies ahead," HBO said in a release. "Smith ultimately takes us on an expansive and intimate 70-year journey, from Branson’s upbringing as the son of a spirited, tough-love mother in Britain, to his pursuits of extreme, personal daredevilry that serve both to grow his businesses’ brands and feed his insatiable, lifelong thirst for high-stakes adventure. With added insight from family members, business associates, and journalists, and illustrated by decades of archival and home video footage, Branson reveals the ups and downs of a man driven by risk taking in both his business and personal life, reflecting on the costs and rewards of his lifelong, relentless optimism and boundary-pushing."
The four-episode series will feature interviews with Branson, his wife, Joan, his sisters, and his children. Watch a trailer here:
How to watch Branson:
The episodes will air weekly on Thursdays on HBO in December, and simultaneously drop on HBO Max.
Here's a schedule (descriptions via HBO):
Episode 1, "Words and Music": Thursday, December 1 at 10 p.m. Eastern Time.
The series premiere explores Branson’s early years and the influence of his iconoclastic mother. As a dyslexic teenager, he leaves school at age 15 to create a magazine called Student, leading to a mail-order record business and eventually Virgin Records and Virgin megastores.
Episode 2, "Atlantic": Thursday, December 8 at 10 p.m. Eastern Time.
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.
Episode 3, "Fight or Flight," Thursday, December 15 at 10 p.m. Eastern Time.
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.
Episode 4, "Space," Thursday, December 22 at 10 p.m. Eastern Time.
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.
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