Broadcaster Bill Turnbull dies aged 66 - tributes to former BBC Breakfast presenter

The former BBC Breakfast presenter and Classic FM host was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2017

TV presenter Bill Turnbull has died aged 66, his family has confirmed.

The former BBC Breakfast host was living with terminal prostate cancer, and died surrounded by family on Wednesday, 31 August.

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He was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2017, and took a leave of absence from his radio show at Classic FM in October 2021, in order to focus on his health.

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    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.

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    “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.

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    “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.”

    Despite most recently working on Classic FM, Turnbull was most known for his role on BBC Breakfast from 2001 until 2016.

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    He revealed his prostate cancer diagnosis in March 2018, and confirmed he was diagnosed the previous November.

    He detailed his journey and treatment with the terminal illness in a documentary called ‘Staying Alive’ which aired on Channel 4.

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    Turnbull’s career started back in 1978, at Radio Clyde in Scotland, before moving to the BBC in the mid 80s.

    Some of his most notable work was covering the OJ Simpson trial and the Monica Lewinsky scandal.

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    BBC Breakfast shared a tribute to Bill on the official Twitter account, it said: “Former BBC Breakfast presenter Bill Turnbull has died. He was 66. He was loved by our viewers. He was loved by his colleagues.

    Bill will always be remembered for his warmth, humour and being a brilliant journalist.”

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    Former BBC Technology Correspondent, Rory Cellan-Jones, said: “Very sad to hear about Bill Turnbull. Great broadcaster, nice man.”

    Broadcaster John Simpson said: “Very sorry to hear of the death of my former colleague Bill Turnbull.  He was charming and relaxed, and managed to combine being a clever, sharp reporter with sympathetic understanding as an interviewer.  And he faced a vicious disease with great courage.”

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    BBC General director, Tim Davie said: “Bill was a much loved and respected broadcaster and journalist - not just by viewers but by all those lucky enough to have worked with him.

    He always struck the right tone, no matter what the story. Warm, wise, professional and caring, he will be much missed by us all.

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    “Our thoughts go out to his family and friends.”

    Former BBC Breakfast presenter, Dan Walker, said: “Bill Turnbull was so kind and generous when I took over from him on BBC Breakfast. He was full of brilliant advice and it was clear just how loved he was by his colleagues and the audience. It was an honour to sit on his sofa.

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    My thoughts are with his family and friends.”