ENTREPRENEUR Duncan Bannatyne has revealed he came close to considering suicide following the breakdown of his first marriage.

The revelation came during the 61-year-old’s candid interview on BBC Radio 4’s Desert Island Discs yesterday.

Asked about the failure of his first marriage, Mr Bannatyne, whose health and leisure businesses are based in Darlington, said: “I would get in my car and drive to work, stop in a layby and just start crying. I came very close to considering suicide.”

During the interview, Mr Bannatyne also spoke about the painful death of his elder sister, Helen, and the experience of being thrown out of the Royal Navy following a scuffle with his commanding officer.

But he said that despite his turbulent past, he had finally found true happiness with second wife Joanne. “She’s very good at keeping me in check,” he said. “Women have a good way of doing that. She knows how to handle me.”

Mr Bannatyne was born into poverty in Glasgow. His first taste of business was building up a paper round while at school, to afford a bike.

He joined the Royal Navy at 15, but told interviewer Kirsty Young he had repeatedly clashed with his seniors. It culminated in the incident with his commanding officer that lead to his eventual expulsion.

He said: “I think he’d had a couple of drinks and was showing off in front of his girlfriend. I had a couple of words with him, there was an altercation, and I ended up trying to push him off the side of an aircraft carrier.”

Mr Bannatyne said he had set up a trust fund for his children, but that they would not be allowed access to the money if they started smoking, or had been caught drinkdriving.

And despite going on to amass a fortune of hundreds of millions of pounds, Mr Bannatyne said he was not driven by money. “Loving your business is more important than loving the money it creates,” he said.

Bannatyne’s Desert Island Discs

■ Rod Stewart – Maggie May.

Reason: “To hear a Scottish voice.”

■ The Human League – Don’t You Want Me.

Reason: The band performed at wife Joanne’s 40th birthday party.

■ Tom Jones – Green, Green Grass of Home.

Reason: “Reminds me of going home.”

■ Dawn – Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Ole Oak Tree.

Reason: The record evokes memories of meeting a girl on the platform of Paddington Station.

■ Michael Ball – Love Changes Everything.

Reason: “I took Joanne to see the musical Aspects of Love. This song will always stick with us.”

■ Beverley Knight – Shoulda Woulda Coulda.

Reason: Beverley Knight performed the song at his 60th birthday party.

■ Chesney Hawkes – The One and Only.

Reason: With tongue in cheek, “I think this record was written for me.”

■ The Plastic Ono Band – Give Peace a Chance.

Reason: “All politicians, every Sunday, should be made to listen to this.”