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Bill Turnbull Former BBC presenter Passed Away at 66

Bill Turnbull Former BBC presenter Passed Away at 66

Broadcaster Bill Turnbull has died at the age of 66, his representatives have confirmed.

Turnbull hosted BBC Breakfast for 15 years, in both London and later Salford, and also fronted Songs of Praise and game show Think Tank.

His family said: “Bill will be remembered by many as a remarkable broadcaster who brought warmth and humour into people’s homes”.

In 2018, he announced he had been diagnosed with prostate cancer.

After leaving the BBC in 2016, he joined Classic FM, and continued presenting shows on the network until recently.

His family added: “Following a challenging and committed fight against prostate cancer, Bill passed away peacefully at his home in Suffolk surrounded by his family on Wednesday, 31 August.”

After leaving the BBC in 2016, he joined Classic FM, and continued presenting shows on the network until recently.

His family added: “Following a challenging and committed fight against prostate cancer, Bill passed away peacefully at his home in Suffolk surrounded by his family on Wednesday, 31 August.”

They said he received his diagnosis in 2017, and praised his “outstanding medical care” from the Royal Marsden and Ipswich Hospitals, St Elizabeth Hospice and his GP.

“He was resolutely positive and was hugely buoyed by the support he received from friends, colleagues, and messages from people wishing him luck. It was a great comfort to Bill that so many more men are now testing earlier for this disease,” they said.

“Bill was a wonderful husband and father to his three children; his family and friends will miss how he always made them laugh, and the generosity and love he shared with those around him,” they said, adding he was a devoted Wycombe Wanderers fan and “an ever-aspiring beekeeper”.

Turnbull was a favourite with viewers on BBC Breakfast thanks to his gentle presenting style, which was well suited to early morning broadcasting.

Bill Turnbull

Bill Turnbull Former BBC presenter Passed Away at 66
Bill Turnbull Former BBC presenter Passed Away at 66

During his time on BBC Breakfast, he presented alongside Sian Williams, Susanna Reid, Kate Silverton, Natasha Kaplinsky and Louise Minchin.

His former colleagues Naga Munchetty and Charlie Stayt paid an emotional tribute on Thursday’s show, just after the news was announced.

Munchetty said: “His energy was amazing. He came into this programme and threw everything at it. He was funny; he was a brilliant journalist. He loved this programme and he loved serving you, the audience.”

Stayt added that Turnbull “didn’t take himself too seriously”.

On his last BBC Breakfast show, Turnbull talked about some of the moments he remembered most.

“I remember nearly getting into a fight with a ventriloquist’s dummy named Bob,” he said.

“Seriously it nearly came to blows, although that was more me than him.”

He added: “And there was a moment where I actually wore a sweater made from dog hair with a bow on the front.

It was alright but it was very, very warm and I just couldn’t get the stuff off me for weeks afterwards.”

Susannah Reid tweeted: “Bill was the kindest, funniest, most generous man in the business.

I feel lucky to have worked with him and he taught me everything.

But above all, he was devoted to his family and I am heartbroken for them. RIP Bill. We will miss you so much.”

‘Razor-sharp intellect’

BBC Radio 4’s Today programme presenter Nick Robinson described Turnbull as “a very, very dear friend and an extraordinary broadcaster.”

“There was a warmth to his broadcasting which people who watch Breakfast television every day knew,” he said. “But perhaps what they forgot was what a bloody good journalist he was.

This was a man who’d been a correspondent in Washington, who travelled 30 countries.

He’d been in Moscow, he’d covered wars, he’d reported on the troubles in Northern Ireland.”

He added: “And that combination of a razor-sharp intellect, wit, humour and humanity, came out every day when he was on Breakfast. It came out every day when he was a reporter on this programme. And listeners to Classic FM will have heard him present beautifully as well his love of music.”

Robinson also recalled how Turnbull and his wife [Sarah] had met on the Today programme.

Prior to working on the programme, Turnbull worked as a reporter on BBC Radio 4’s Today, BBC Radio 5 Live and BBC News 24, as the news channel was then known.

He appeared as a contestant on an early series of Strictly Come Dancing, finishing in sixth place with his partner Karen Hardy.

In recent years, Turnbull guest presented episodes of The One Show and reunited with Reid for several editions of ITV’s Good Morning Britain.

After his cancer diagnosis was made public, he fronted a documentary for Channel 4 called Bill Turnbull: Staying Alive, in which he explored the use of cannabis oil for medicinal purposes.

In November 2017, Turnbull took part in a celebrity edition of The Great British Bake Off – which was in aid of a charity, Stand Up to Cancer. He found out about his prostate cancer during filming.

He said inspiring men to get tested for the illness by publicly revealing his own diagnosis was the “one useful thing” he had done in his life, admitting he was “cross with myself” for the pride he had felt at not visiting a GP in four years.

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What is prostate cancer?

  • It’s the most common cancer in men in the UK – an ageing population means more men are developing and dying from the disease
  • 40,000 new cases are diagnosed and around 11,000 men die from it each year
  • It can develop slowly over years and many men have no symptoms
  • Noticeable symptoms include needing to urinate more often and weak flow
  • There is no single test for prostate cancer – a blood test, biopsies and physical examinations are all used

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