Bill Turnbull: I'm quitting BBC Breakfast to spend more time with my bees
BBC Breakfast anchor Bill Turnbull is leaving the show after 15 years - admitting he wants to spend more time with his wife and his “neglected” bees.
The 59-year-old will walk away from the show early in 2016, in a move which will sadden millions of viewers who wake up with him on the popular show.
He confirmed the news on the show this morning - but yesterday he told the Mirror: “I agreed to come North for two years and it went so well I agreed to do another two years.
“That is coming to an end - by that time I will have been doing the show for nearly 15 years which is more than enough for me and the audience.
“So it is a good time to call it a day and do something else. It was a long term decision.
“I could see this coming up, and it was always the plan. I’ll leave early next year.
“There is some sadness, but no regrets.”
Bill, who will continue to work on TV and radio, admits he wants to enjoy his life away from the small screen now with wife Sarah, with plans for 2016 including moving house and being reunited with his beloved bees.
Bill said: “I have been neglecting my bees for far too long. They are on a farm, they were going to come up here to the Lakes where we live but it was too windy.
“They are down in Buckinghamshire, I don’t see them very often but they don’t seem to mind!
“I haven’t been able to keep chickens for a few years, so all these things will take up time.
“We are going to move to Suffolk with a bit of luck, it is where we have got family and friends, we have got to know Suffolk quite well in the last year and we like it so we are planning to move there.”
The presenter told the Mirror there was no ‘one moment’ which had made him convinced now was the right time to go.
But father-of-three Bill admitted his 3am alarm call was partly to blame for his decision to quit.
He said: “The early starts you never get used to. You get hardened to it and I have done it thousands of times and it still never gets any easier.
"Doing that in combination with more than three hours of current affairs a day is tiring. There is no two ways about it.
“I have noticed the past few weeks I am waking up at half past four or five every single day when I am not on.
"Normally I get up at half past three. When the alarm doesn’t go off I still wake up at four or five, still early and that is because it is ingrained. I will have to train myself out of it.
“My wife is consulted in all the big decisions and she is perfectly happy.
“We will manage to get rid of the 9.30 curfew which will be nice. It will be fun.”
Bill first joined Breakfast as a reporter in 1988, with his first segment being on wild flowers.
However, he went on to cover more memorable stories including the Lockerbie disaster and the Romanian Revolution of 1989.
He became a host in 2001 and admits he will struggle to hold back the tears when he says goodbye to the show which has seen him conduct thousands of interviews and anchor the show with over a dozen female co-hosts, including Sian Williams andSusanna Reid.
He said: “Certainly I am not looking forward to the last day cos it will be a very emotional occasion.
"I am already trying to work out an anti-blubbing defence because that would be really awful to spill tears. But I know it will be a big day.”
Asked for his highlights, Bill picked out presenting the show from the Olympic Park during London 2012 and also interviewing Bobby Charlton with the World Cup on the desk between them.
Aside from sport, the Wycombe Wanderers fan also has enjoyed the music segments on the show.
He said: “The ones I remember are people I really admire, David Byrne from Talking Heads, Eric Burdon (from band The Animals), I even got to touch Jimi Hendrix’s guitar.”
Bill won’t be drawn on who should replace him as the main anchor on the sofa, but he is convinced he is leaving the show in good shape, ahead of ITV rival Good Morning Britain.
He said: “I can’t remember the exact viewing figures when I joined in 2001 but it is now nearly double what it was.
"At the time we were lagging behind the competition, now we are ahead. I think the programme is going from strength to strength.”