Bill Turnbull ‘cheerful and healthy’ in reunion with former Breakfast co-stars

By Lucy Mapstone, PA Deputy Entertainment Editor

Bill Turnbull had a reunion with his former BBC Breakfast co-stars Naga Munchetty and Dan Walker as he appeared on the programme to talk about living with cancer.

The broadcaster appeared via a video call from his home in Suffolk, and said he was “feeling really very well” despite not being able to be in the Salford studio with his former colleagues.

Turnbull, who was diagnosed with prostate cancer in late 2017, said: “The only reason I can’t be with you is not cancer-related, I’ve had a bug that I can’t quite shake off.

“But I’ve had no aches and pains for a long time and I feel remarkably cheerful and healthy.”

He said that he has been trying to help himself with changes to his diet and his attitude, and Munchetty told him: “On a personal level, it feels like you have certainly mellowed and much more open to new ideas.”

She said that it “tickled her” to learn he had been eating vegetable broth, adding: “I know you’re a man who enjoys his meat.”

Turnbull, 63, replied: “I used to be very fond of meat and I’ve given it up largely, and I’ve given up alcohol as well, which will come as a surprise to you.

“And I feel much better for it, and you have to do those things.

“As for mellowing, not getting out of bed at half past three every morning and doing three hours of live television does make you mellow over time.”

Classic FM host Turnbull, who presented on BBC Breakfast from 2001 until 2016, was diagnosed with prostate cancer which then spread to other parts of his body, and he details his treatment in a new Channel 4 documentary called Staying Alive.

He told Munchetty and Walker that he “had a slight epiphany over the last couple of months” since filming on the programme finished, and that he came to a “realisation that things aren’t quite the way I thought they were”.

“I’m not in an adversarial relationship with my illness anymore, I just see it as, it’s a part of me, and let’s see if we can’t work together to get there.”

Asked for his current prognosis, Turnbull said: “The official prognosis would probably be that, when I started I was given 10, then 12 to 14 years, then my oncologist said he wants to get me to 80.

“But the way I look at it is, I kind of put that to one side and I think, well, I’m going to live for as long as I’m going to live for, whatever happens, happens.

“If I can make myself get better that’s great, and if I don’t, well that’s fine as well.

Bill Turnbull details his treatment in a new documentary (Pete Dadds/Channel 4)

“I’m just going to keep living as long as it seems a good thing to do.”

Signing off, Munchetty told Turnbull: “I love you Bill, miss you. Sending you a big hug.”

Walker added: “It’s so lovely to talk to you, we get asked so regularly how you are, so it’s lovely to have you on the show today for many of our Breakfast viewers to see that you’re looking well and feeling well too.”

Bill Turnbull: Staying Alive airs on Channel 4 on Thursday, October 24.