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Bill Turnbull on life after BBC Breakfast: "It's a real pleasure not to be governed by the alarm clock"

The BBC favourite is enjoying late mornings in East Anglia, but still keeps an eye on who has replaced him on the Breakfast sofa

Published: Sunday, 21st August 2016 at 9:00 am

Still enjoying post-Breakfast lie-ins, ignoring the alarm clock and walking your dogs?


Yes, it’s a real pleasure not to be governed by the alarm clock. I used to have two, now I only need one. I’ve got two black labradors. They’re lying beside me now. In their bed beside me, not with me. They don’t sleep in my bed.

You’ve just moved to East Anglia – set up your TV room yet?

Embarrassingly, no. There’s no TV aerial in the kitchen, the TV is three rooms away and we haven’t settled in because of builders. I saw Euro 2016, The People v OJ Simpson and the Storyville about Lance Armstrong, but we’re not watching much TV. There is a sofa, but it doesn’t get sat on much.

Is it very different from your old BBC Breakfast sofa?

Any sofa is different from that. I complained that the old sofa gave me a bad back, so they measured me for a new tailor-made one.

Bespoke sofas for the stars? Typical BBC waste...

It wasn’t wasted – none of us took any time off with bad backs and the audience kept going up. It was ergonomic with a little backrest to lean against so you didn’t slouch. It was the perfect height for me, so I’m not sure how it’s going to be for everybody else now I’ve gone.
I have a quick look occasionally and they seem to be doing all right.

When you stood down you said you wanted to spend more time with your wife and your bees.

It’s working out very well, my wife seems happy to have me around, and I’m more than happy to be here. I’m not tangling up her feet.

And the bees?

I haven’t moved them from the farm in Buckinghamshire where I keep them but, usually, if you leave bees in their natural environment, they just get on with it. The farmer down there lets me know if there’s been a disaster.

Have you taken up any other hobbies, like home brewing?

No need, my daughter’s boyfriend is just setting up a microbrewery, and he brings me samples. I try to be constructive in my criticism. Though I might need a couple more pints before I can be sure.

Many retirees take to the bottle...

I do like beer, wine and bourbon but I haven’t become a complete soak. It’s drinking in moderation. There’s a pub with good guest beers within walking distance from home. Fortunately the path to the pub is across fields, and there’s only about 80 yards of pavement.

Moderate drinking aside,
how do you relax?

I can feel my blood pressure going down when I listen to classical music. I like Estonian composer Arvo Part and I’m very fond of Benjamin Britten. Which is good, as we’re living near Snape Maltings, where he did his work. When we lived in the north, I went to the Albert Hall in Manchester to see Guy Garvey and one of my favourite bands, I Am Kloot.

How did you feel when BBC Breakfast moved to Manchester?

It was a shock and huge upheaval for so many, so it wasn’t surprising that some were reluctant, and then resentful because they felt it had been forced on them. But I thought it was great – regionalisation has helped put the British back into the BBC. Taking three hours of news and current affairs programming out of London was a risk, but we made it work. People were waiting for it to fail and it didn’t.


Bill Turnbull hosts Think Tank, Monday to Friday on BBC1, and a weekend show on Classic FM


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