It was a tough decision, and there will never be another Bill Turnbull on breakfast TV. But based on first impressions and public reaction, the BBC seem to have made an excellent decision in giving Bill’s job to Football Focus host Dan Walker.
Bill’s last day is on 26th February and I suspect there will be tears shed on screen and behind-the-scenes, as he is easy to work with, occasionally cheeky, and always very dependable.
Saying he is a safe pair of hands does not do his 15 years on the show justice, he is consistently brilliant and very popular too. For that reason, BBC Breakfast remains well on top in terms of ratings.
Bosses could have looked at the recent arrival of Piers Morgan on Good Morning Britain over at ITV and felt they needed a big personality to replace Bill, so they could make lots of noise.
They could have picked someone who would get huge publicity, the tactic Top Gear bosses seem to be adopting at present.
Thankfully this hasn’t happened.
If anything, Dan Walker is the complete opposite of Piers Morgan.
Quiet off screen, Dan doesn’t like swearing, won’t work on Sundays because of his strong religious beliefs and is a bit of a Star Wars geek.
Whilst Piers is arrogant, unforgiving and loves a row on Twitter, Dan wrote on one church website in 2010 how he is still upset with himself for “doing things I regret” in his first year at university, even though it was a decade earlier!
So the signs are good that Dan won’t upset many people on screen or rock the BBC Breakfast boat. And at 38, if he settles in, there is nothing to stop him notching up a decade on the sofa.
Bill presented Songs of Praise whilst doing BBC Breakfast and is a big football fan himself, so there are some similarities between the pair. BBC colleagues speak highly of Bill and Dan.
They are both family men with three children each, too, and appear to want to stay at the BBC for life.
BBC execs will be hoping they have a young Bill Turnbull on Breakfast, not a new Piers Morgan.
Mark Jefferies is Showbiz Editor at the Daily Mirror
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