Good morning and goodnight from Bill
Journalist Bill Turnbull is leaving his role as anchor of the BBC Breakfast news programme. MARK JEFFRIES talks to the Buckinghamshire resident about his future plans.
BBC Breakfast anchor (and Bucks beekeeper) Bill Turnbull is leaving the show after 15 years – admitting he wants to spend more time with his wife and his ‘neglected’ bees.
Sadly, it appears that the avid Wycombe Wanderers fan, who has several beehives in Jordans, will also be leaving Bucks to settle in Suffolk.
The 59-year-old will walk away from the Beeb early in 2016, in a move which will sadden millions of viewers who wake up with him broadcasting the latest news on the popular show.
Turnbull confirmed the news on the show yesterday (Wednesday). He said: “I agreed to come north for two years and it went so well I agreed to do another two years.
“That is coming to an end – by that time I will have been doing the show for nearly 15 years, which is more than enough for me and the audience.
“So it is a good time to call it a day and do something else. It was a long-term decision.
“I could see this coming up and it was always the plan. I’ll leave early next year.
“There is some sadness, but no regrets.”
The presenter said there was no ‘one moment’ which had made him convinced now was the right time to go. But father-of-three Bill admitted his 3am alarm call was partly to blame for his decision to quit.
He said: “The early starts you never get used to. You get hardened to it and I have done it thousands of times, but it still never gets any easier.
“Doing that in combination with more than three hours of current affairs a day is tiring. There are no two ways about it.
“I have noticed the past few weeks I am waking up at half past four or five every single day when I am not on.
“Normally I get up at half past three. When the alarm doesn’t go off I still wake up at four or five and that is because it is ingrained. I will have to train myself out of it.
“My wife is consulted in all the big decisions and she is perfectly happy.
“We will manage to get rid of the 9.30pm curfew, which will be nice. It will be fun.”
Bill, who will continue to work on TV and radio, admits he wants to enjoy his life away from BBC breakfast with wife Sarah, with plans for 2016 including moving house and being reunited with his beloved bees.
Bill said: “I have been neglecting my bees for far too long. They are on a farm – they were going to come up here to the Lakes where we live, but it was too windy.
“They are in Buckinghamshire. I don’t see them very often but they don’t seem to mind!
“I haven’t been able to keep chickens for a few years, so all these things will take up time.
“We are going to move to Suffolk with a bit of luck – it is where we have got family and friends. We have got to know Suffolk quite well in the last year and we like it so we are planning to move there.”
Bill first joined BBC Breakfast as a reporter in
SAYING GOODBYE: BBC Breakfast anchor Bill Turnbull, who has beehives in Jordans, is leaving the show; (below left) Bill with co-presenters and crew from BBC Breakfast; (below right) Bill visiting Jordans School in 2014 1988, with his first segment being on wild flowers.
However, he went on to cover more memorable stories including the Lockerbie disaster and the Romanian Revolution of 1989.
He became a host in 2001 and admits he will struggle to hold back the tears when he says goodbye to the show which has seen him conduct thousands of interviews and anchor the show with more than a dozen female co-hosts, including Sian Williams and Susanna Reid.
He said: “Certainly I am not looking forward to the last day because it will be a very emotional occasion. I am already trying to work out an anti-blubbing defence because that would be really awful to spill tears, but I know it will be a big day.”
Asked for his highlights, Bill picked out presenting the show from the Olympic Park during London 2012 and also interviewing Bobby Charlton with the World Cup on the desk between them.
Aside from sport, the Wycombe Wanderers fan also has enjoyed the musical segments on the show.
He said: “The ones I remember are people I really admire – David Byrne from Talking Heads, Eric Burdon (from The Animals) – I even got to touch Jimi Hendrix’s guitar.”
Bill will not be drawn on who should replace him as the main anchor on the sofa, but he is convinced he is leaving the show in good shape, ahead of ITV rival Good Morning Britain.
He said: “I can’t remember the exact viewing figures when I joined in 2001, but it is now nearly double what it was.
“At the time we were lagging behind the competition, now we are ahead.
“I think the programme is going from strength to strength.”