BBC Radio 2 DJ Johnnie Walker told to ‘prepare to die at any moment’ by doctors

‘I only have a finite amount of time left here before I pass over,’ DJ revealed

Jacob Stolworthy
Wednesday 12 June 2024 10:26 BST
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Johnnie Walker opens up about terminal illness

Veteran BBC DJ Johnnie Walker has been told to “prepare to die at any moment” after being diagnosed with a terminal illness.

Walker, who has worked at the BBC since 1969, began his career at Radio 1 before moving to Radio 2 in 1998, where he currently hosts Sounds of the 70s and The Radio 2 Rock Show.

Since he was diagnosed with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, an inflation of the lungs, he has been presenting his radio shows from his home in Dorset.

Walker needs round-the-clock care and is being looked after, full-time, by his wife, Tiggy.

The couple have opened up about Walker’s terminal illness on BBC Sounds podcast, Walker and Walker: Johnnie and Tiggy, in honour of Carers Week.

In the special, the DJ opened up about having “only a finite amount of time left here in the physical before I pass over”, calling it “a very reflective time for us”.

Walker, who was previously cared for by Tiggy when he was diagnosed with cancer shortly after their marriage in 2006, told his wife: “Here we are at the end of my life when you’re having to care for me all over again.”

He said of Tiggy: “You definitely saved my life when I went through cancer. I’m positive I wouldn’t have made it without you. Your love was just so sustaining, it gave me so much to look forward to. And your caring for me now makes my life so much better.”

Johnnie Walker is being cared full-time by his wife Tiggy
Johnnie Walker is being cared full-time by his wife Tiggy (Mike Webster/Shutterstock)

Tiggy said she has required help in “grieving” the life they had together, stating: “It’s only by going to the doctors and going on antidepressants that I have kept going because I was crying every single day and I was overwhelmed.”

She recalled how the couple were told by a consultant that Johnny should “prepare to go at any moment”, before adding: “Equally, you might be around for six months.”

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Tiggy said she “internally thought, ‘Oh my goodness, how can I keep up this level of caring for six months?’ Because it’s just about my own energy. Caring is hard”.

BBC DJ Johnnie Walker at work in 1971
BBC DJ Johnnie Walker at work in 1971 (Getty Images)

Walker said that at night Tiggy “very lovingly helps me get into bed and gives me a nice kiss good night, and then she has to wonder whether I’m still going to be alive in the morning, which must be pretty hard for her”.

Walker worked at Radio 1 from 1969 until 1976, when he had a dispute with his managers after describing successful group The Bay City Rollers as “musical garbage”.

He left the station for 11 years before returning to host his Saturday afternoon show The Stereo Sequence.

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