Bill Turnbull warns ‘the beast might be unleashed’ as he returns to breakfast TV

By Laura Harding, PA Senior Entertainment Correspondent

Bill Turnbull has warned that “the beast might be unleashed” when he makes his return to breakfast television after being diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2017.

The veteran presenter will be reunited with his former BBC Breakfast co-star, Susanna Reid, when he co-hosts rival programme Good Morning Britain for a special three-day run at the end of February.

He will fill in for Piers Morgan and said: “Susanna’s an old friend. I first worked with her in Washington when I was a correspondent and she was a producer, which must be 25 years ago.

“It’s great when you work with someone you like on television and it’s effortless.

“It comes really naturally and you develop a rhythm and a silent understanding of who is going to do what and you recognise each other’s patterns and it’s easy.

“When you come off air, you feel like you’ve really enjoyed it, that’s when it works well. Sometimes you come off air and your head is ready to explode because you haven’t got on so well with your on-air partner.

“But I’ve been blessed with most of mine that it’s always been good. I’m thrilled to be working with her again.”

Asked how his BBC colleagues feel about him defecting to ITV, he said: “Oh gosh! I don’t know. I hope they will be glad to see I’m still working. They are still very good friends of mine.

“I’m just back in the game, I suppose. Television Centre is where I started in television more than 30 years ago, and presenting 20 years ago.

“I never imagined I would be able to do a show from there again. It’s great Good Morning Britain is there. So, in some ways it’s like coming home.”

However, Turnbull said it “goes against my personal grain” to be more outspoken on GMB and said: “I’m so used to not spouting off on air. I’ve been working on commercial radio, so to a limited degree I’ve had more freedom.

“But who knows what might happen. It might be that the beast might be unleashed on air – you’ll have to watch and find out.”

Bill Turnbull and Susanna Reid on BBC Breakfast (Jeff Overs/BBC/PA)

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 detailed his treatment in a Channel 4 documentary called Staying Alive last year.

Discussing how his health is now, he said: “OK at the moment. When you have cancer, it’s always there. But currently I feel really good, most of the time.

“I have changed my diet considerably and in the past few months I have felt healthier than I have in a long time. The only thing I do have is, because I’m on a hormone treatment, I do get hot flushes sometimes.

“I’m a bit nervous as it could be slightly awkward in the studio. Normally what happens if I get a hot flush, I get all red in the face and I take my jacket off and cool down.

“I’m not sure I’m going to be able to do that. We may need to get a little fan.”

He added: “I think having cancer has changed my attitude to a lot of things, to death as well as life.

“If your life prospects are shortened considerably that does sharpen the mind. But I feel relaxed about it. I’ve done a lot of thinking and a lot of reading and my attitude to the world and my place in it has matured in the last year or two.”

– Bill Turnbull will fill in for Piers Morgan on February 24, 25, and 26.