Bill Turnbull steps back from Classic FM show ‘for health reasons’

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Bill Turnbull said he was taking a leave of absence from Classic FM 'with great regret', but added: 'I will be back, just as soon as I can be' - Classic FM/PA
Bill Turnbull said he was taking a leave of absence from Classic FM 'with great regret', but added: 'I will be back, just as soon as I can be' - Classic FM/PA

Bill Turnbull, the presenter who has documented his treatment for prostate cancer, has stepped back from his Classic FM radio show on health grounds.

Mr Turnbull was diagnosed in 2017 and went on to make a film, Staying Alive, which followed his treatment.

In a statement on Twitter, he said: “With great regret, I am taking a leave of absence from my show, for health reasons.

“The road has been a bit bumpy recently, and I need to take some time to focus on getting better.

“I’m sorry to do this, as I absolutely love doing the programme, and have hugely enjoyed the past five years.

“I am very grateful to friends and colleagues for the love and support they have shown me. And I will be back, just as soon as I can be.”

Mr Turnbull, who presented BBC Breakfast from 2001 to 2016, went public with his diagnosis in March 2018.

At first, he had put his aches and pains down to “old age” and said his diagnosis came as a deep shock.

The presenter said he hoped to raise awareness of prostate cancer, and urged men to visit their GP regularly. The disease had spread to Mr Turnbull’s bones by the time of his diagnosis.

“Maybe if I’d got it earlier and stopped it at the prostate, I’d be in a much better state,” he said in 2018.

“If one man gets tested who might not otherwise have gone to their doctor, it’s worthwhile.”

Presenter helps to raise awareness of prostate cancer

Mr Turnbull underwent nine rounds of chemotherapy and in one of his most recent interviews said he was receiving hormone therapy and radium injections.

He said last November that living with cancer meant that “every moment of life is a joy”.

He added: “The things you thought were important aren’t, really. You do see things more intensely and start to look at things you might not have done otherwise, because you realise there’s more to life than rushing from A to B to C.”

In 2020, prostate cancer became the most commonly diagnosed form of the disease. Experts cited Mr Turnbull as one of the reasons, saying that people in the public eye had helped to raise awareness of the symptoms.

A Classic FM spokesman said: “Bill is a hugely valued and loved member of the Classic FM and Global family.

“We wish him all the very best as he takes time away from his programmes to concentrate on getting better. Along with our listeners, we look forward to welcoming him back on air as soon as he can be.”

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