The renowned presenter Bill Turnbull, who passed away at 66 years of age, chose to depart from BBC Breakfast to prioritize spending time with his cherished family. Emotions overwhelmed him as he disclosed his prostate cancer diagnosis.
The departure of Bill Turnbull from BBC Breakfast after a remarkable 15-year stint left the show’s audience heartbroken. However, the beloved presenter had a compelling reason for his exit. Hosting the program for the last time in 2016, he had gained a massive following of viewers who began their day with him.
The immense affection for Bill was evident in the overwhelming display of sorrow following the announcement of his tragic demise on 2022. After a difficult five-year battle with prostate cancer, he passed away at the age of 66. Bill departed peacefully at his Suffolk home, where he had relocated to following his departure from BBC Breakfast.
“I agreed to come North for two years and it went so well I agreed to do another two years,” he explained.
“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.”
Bill admitted that he had been neglecting his bees and the early 3 am wake-up call was another contributing factor in his decision to move on.
He expressed that one never becomes accustomed to waking up early, but instead becomes resilient to it. Despite having done it numerous times, it never becomes any easier. Additionally, having to spend over three hours a day keeping up with current events is exhausting, with no doubt about it.
Bill and his wife Sarah McCombie had lived in Buckinghamshire for an extended period before they moved to Cheshire in 2012, when BBC Breakfast relocated to Salford.
In March of 2018, Bill announced that he had been diagnosed with prostate cancer the previous November.
When his doctor informed him of the illness, he was left in a state of tearful shock. In an effort to manage the disease and extend the amount of time he could spend with his beloved family, Bill underwent chemotherapy.
He spoke about his cancer following an episode of the Great British Bake Off, which he had recorded before his diagnosis, with the intention of urging other men to get their prostates examined.
“I’ve been blessed to have had a wonderful family who still give me joy every day,” he began in the emotional video. “To me, being a father is the most challenging and most fulfilling thing you can do.”
Bill, who has three children with wife Sarah, then revealed the heartbreaking moment he told his kids about his cancer diagnosis.
“I remember my daughter came and I said, ‘Well, I’ve got to tell you – I’ve got cancer’. And I had to tell my sons on the phone… we all cried,” he recalled.
After Bill’s passing, it was his grieving wife Sarah who issued a statement that was broadcast on BBC Breakfast.
An emotional Naga Munchetty read: “Our lovely Billy died yesterday evening. Almost five years after being diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer.
“The last week of his life was very special as the whole family was with him and they shared some wonderful moments.
His wife said that despite his frequent pain, Bill remained dignified and courageous throughout his illness, demonstrating his usual determination until the very end. He brought laughter into their lives every day, and his family is incredibly proud of him. He was the heart of their family, and it is difficult to imagine life without him.
In addition, the family expressed their admiration for Bill’s valiant battle against cancer, noting that he was diagnosed in 2017 and received excellent medical attention from the Royal Marsden and Ipswich Hospitals, St Elizabeth Hospice, and his GP.
Bill remained steadfastly optimistic and was greatly uplifted by the support he received from friends, colleagues, and well-wishers. It was a significant source of comfort to him that more men are now undergoing testing for this disease at an earlier stage.
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.