Bill Turnbull dies aged 66 after lengthy cancer battle

Former BBC Breakfast host Bill Turnbull has died at the age of 66, his family has said

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Turnbull, who appeared on BBC Breakfast from 2001 until 2016, was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2017.

He made numerous television appearances outside of BBC Breakfast, including as the presenter on BBC One’s Songs Of Praise.

In 2005, he competed as a contestant on Strictly Come Dancing partnered with Karen Hardy, and was the seventh celebrity voted off the show.

Other TV appearances include ITV’s Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? and Through The Keyhole; the BBC’s Celebrity Mastermind, Would I Lie To You?, Pointless Celebrities and Room 101, and he appeared in the dictionary corner for Channel 4′s Countdown.

Bill Turnbull presented BBC Breakfast with Susanna Reid
Bill Turnbull presented BBC Breakfast with Susanna Reid
Bill Turnbull with Sian Williams
Bill Turnbull with Sian Williams

A statement from his family said: “Following a challenging and committed fight against prostate cancer, Bill passed away peacefully at his home in Suffolk surrounded by his family on Wednesday, 31st August.

“Bill was diagnosed in 2017 and has had 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.

“Bill will be remembered by many as a remarkable broadcaster who brought warmth and humour into people’s homes on BBC Breakfast and Classic FM.

“He was also a devoted Wycombe Wanderers fan and an ever-aspiring beekeeper. 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.

“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.”

Bill Turnbull with Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall
Bill Turnbull with Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall

The presenter revealed his prostate cancer diagnosis in March 2018, saying he was diagnosed the previous November, and he detailed his treatment in a Channel 4 documentary called Staying Alive.

In October last year he announced he was taking a leave of absence from his show on Classic FM for health reasons.

Announcing the news on social media, Turnbull said he was taking “a leave of absence” from his weekend programme, which he had fronted for five years.

He started his broadcast career at Scotland’s Radio Clyde in 1978, joining the BBC as a reporter for the Today programme in 1986 before becoming a reporter for BBC’s Breakfast Time two years later.

In 1990, Turnbull became a correspondent for BBC News and reported from more than 30 countries, with notable stories he covered including the Monica Lewinsky scandal and the OJ Simpson trial.

Turnbull also worked for BBC Radio 5 Live, including presenting Weekend Breakfast.

He joined BBC Breakfast in 2001 as a presenter alongside Sian Williams and they worked together until 2012, when she departed after the programme moved from London to Salford.