My Life In Media: BBC presenter Bill Turnbull

'Even when you've done it hundreds of times, getting up at quarter to four is never easy. The trick is not to fight it'

Bill Turnbull, 51, is the presenter of BBC Breakfast, broadcast every morning on BBC1 and BBC News 24. He has been with the BBC for 22 years and has reported from more than 30 countries, including the US where he was Washington correspondent for four years, covering the OJ Simpson trial and the Monica Lewinsky scandal. He has presented
Breakfast since 2001, broadcasting the show live from King's Cross in the aftermath of the 7/7 London bombings. He keeps chickens and bees. He lives in Buckinghamshire with his wife Sesi and their three children.

What inspired you to embark on a career in the media?

I started writing for the student paper at Edinburgh in my second term, and went on to edit it. By the time I graduated, the bug had struck. I discovered the joys of radio at the Centre for Journalism Studies, and never looked back at print.

How do you feel you influence the media?

I don't, on a personal level. I hope occasionally to inspire others to have a go, that's all.

When you were 15 years old which newspaper did your family get, and did you read it?

My parents read The Times, The FT, and The Daily Mirror. I learned a lot from The Mirror. I was really impressed by its economic but warm style, and direct approach.

And what were your favourite TV and radio programmes?

As I was locked up in boarding school at the time, I barely saw any TV. We were allowed, by special dispensation, to watch Monty Python. And John Peel on Radio 1 was a late night listen with the wireless under the pillow.

Describe your job?

I present Breakfast on BBC1, a job I've had – and loved – for six years. I sit on the sofa with a variety of delightful partners and we try to guide our audience into the day in as friendly and informative a manner as possible. Because it covers so many bases, it's the best job in news broadcasting – apart from the time of day.

What's the first media you turn to in the mornings?

On my way into work at 4.30am I tune into Radio 5Live, to catch up with the news. On days off, I listen to Today in the bedroom and watch Breakfast in the kitchen.

What is the best thing about your job?

Breakfast has great variety. We get to cover all the important issues of the day, but we can also have a lot of fun, especially with the showbiz and culture segment at the end of the programme. We get all the famous faces onto the sofa sooner or later.

And the worst?

Even when you've done it hundreds of times, waking up at a quarter to four doesn't get any easier. The important thing is not to fight it. Once you start doing that, you're lost. Pilates every morning helps me to get the blood flowing.

What's the proudest achievement in your working life?

There's no one single moment, but there have been a few along the way. Making a radio documentary single-handed about the New York City subway 25 years ago was a high. Becoming a foreign correspondent, and going to Washington during the Clinton years. And recently, helping Breakfast beat GMTV in the ratings – that's been very satisfying.

And what's your most embarrassing moment?

There are too many to mention. In thousands of hours live on air, there have been plenty of stutters, stumbles, and bungles. I'm sure you can find them on YouTube.

What would you do if you didn't work in the media?

Broadcasting is all I've ever done professionally, so I'm not qualified for anything else. I'd probably try my hand at writing. A lot of former journalists go into "consultancy". I could try that, if only I knew what it was.

Do you consult any media sources during the day?

Lots. Apart from the obvious – TV, radio, newspapers and BBC Online – I like to check out the Country Channel, about all things rural. I'm the beekeeping correspondent (honest). As a Wycombe Wanderers fan I also have to get my daily dose of gossip from the club's and fans' websites.

Name the one career ambition you want to realise before you retire?

The novel. It's in there somewhere, but don't ask me what it's about.

What is your Sunday paper? And do you have a favourite magazine?

The Sunday Times and The Observer. I find The Week is really useful for catching everything that matters. And I enjoy some of the writing in The Spectator.

Who in the media do you most admire and why?

When I was a reporter I was lucky enough to work alongside Martin Bell a couple of times. He had everything a TV correspondent needed: great courage and integrity, a generous spirit, and a magical ability to make a news script read like a poem. Amazingly, he never wrote a word of it down.

The CV

1978 - Joins Radio Clyde in Glasgow as a trainee, before freelancing for radio stations in London and New York

1986 - Becomes a reporter for Today on Radio 4

1988 - Joins the BBC's Breakfast programme as a reporter, covering the Lockerbie air disaster and the Romanian revolution of 1989

1990 - Becomes a reporter for BBC News, covering the disintegration of the USSR and the Troubles in Northern Ireland.

1994 - Is made the BBC's Washington correspondent, covering the O J Simpson murder trial and the Monica Lewinsky scandal

1998 - Moves back to the UK to become a presenter for BBC News 24. Also hosts the Weekend Breakfast show on Radio 5 Live.

2001- Becomes a presenter on Breakfast. Presents News 24's coverage from King's Cross after the 7/7 bombings.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Voices
Homeless Veterans charity auction: Cook with Angela Hartnett and Neil Borthwick at Merchants Tavern
charity appealTime is running out to secure your favourite lot as our auction closes at 2pm tomorrow
Arts and Entertainment
J Jefferson Farjeon at home in 1953
booksBooksellers say readers are turning away from modern thrillers and back to golden age of crime writing
Sport
Amir Khan is engaged in a broader battle than attempting to win a fight with Floyd Mayweather
boxing Exclusive: Amir Khan reveals plans to travel to Pakistan
News
Stacey Dooley was the only woman to be nominated in last month’s Grierson awards
mediaClare Balding and Davina McCall among those overlooked for Grierson awards
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Voices
Joseph Kynaston Reeves arguing with Russell Brand outside the RBS’s London offices on Friday
voicesDJ Taylor: The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a worker's rant to Russell Brand
News
Twitchers see things differently, depending on their gender
scienceNew study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Caroline Flack became the tenth winner of Strictly Come Dancing
tvReview: 'Absolutely phenomenal' Xtra Factor presenter wins Strictly Come Dancing final
Life and Style
A still from the 1939 film version of Margaret Mitchell's 'Gone with the Wind'
life
News
Xander van der Burgt, at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
scienceA Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
Arts and Entertainment
British actor Idris Elba is also a DJ and rapper who played Ibiza last summer
film
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Ashdown Group: (PHP / Python) - Global Media firm

£50000 per annum + 26 days holiday,pension: Ashdown Group: A highly successful...

Ashdown Group: Analyst Programmer (Filemaker Pro/ SQL) - Global Media firm

£50000 per annum + 26 days, pension, private medical : Ashdown Group: A highly...

Ashdown Group: IT Support Analyst - Chessington

£25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Service Desk Analyst - Chessington, Surrey...

Charter Selection: Graphic Designer, Guildford

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Charter Selection: This renowned and well establish...

Day In a Page

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'
Marian Keyes: The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment

Marian Keyes

The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef creates an Italian-inspired fish feast for Christmas Eve

Bill Granger's Christmas Eve fish feast

Bill's Italian friends introduced him to the Roman Catholic custom of a lavish fish supper on Christmas Eve. Here, he gives the tradition his own spin…
Liverpool vs Arsenal: Brendan Rodgers is fighting for his reputation

Rodgers fights for his reputation

Liverpool manager tries to stay on his feet despite waves of criticism
Amir Khan: 'The Taliban can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'

Amir Khan attacks the Taliban

'They can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'
Michael Calvin: Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick