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Britain pays tribute as Wycombe fan and former BBC Breakfast presenter dies age 66

Britain pays tribute as passionate Wycombe Wanderers fan and former BBC Breakfast presenter Bill Turnbull dies age 66 peacefully at his home.

A statement from his family said “Following a challenging and committed fight against prostate cancer, Bill passed away peacefully at his home in Suffolk surrounded by his family on Wednesday, 31st August.

“Bill was diagnosed in 2017 and has had outstanding medical care from the Royal Marsden and Ipswich Hospitals, St Elizabeth Hospice and his GP.

“He was resolutely positive and was hugely buoyed by the support he received from friends, colleagues, and messages from people wishing him luck. It was a great comfort to Bill that so many more men are now testing earlier for this disease.

“Bill will be remembered by many as a remarkable broadcaster who brought warmth and humour into people’s homes on BBC Breakfast and Classic FM.

“He was also a devoted Wycombe Wanderers fan and an ever-aspiring beekeeper. Bill was a wonderful husband and father to his three children; his family and friends will miss how he always made them laugh, and the generosity and love he shared with those around him.”

“Bill was a wonderful husband and father to his three children; his family and friends will miss how he always made them laugh, and the generosity and love he shared with those around him.”

The presenter sadly confirmed he had prostate cancer in March 2018, saying he was diagnosed the previous November, and he detailed his treatment in a Channel 4 documentary called Staying Alive.

In October 2022, he announced he was taking a leave of absence from his show on Classic FM for health reasons.

He started his broadcast career at Scotland’s Radio Clyde in 1978, the joined the BBC as a reporter for the Today programme in 1986 before becoming a reporter for BBC’s Breakfast Time two years later.

In 1990, Turnbull became a correspondent for BBC News and reported from over 30 countries, with notable stories he covered including the Monica Lewinsky scandal and the OJ Simpson trial.

After moving back to the UK, he became one of the main presenters on BBC News 24, going on to work for BBC Radio 5 Live, including presenting Weekend Breakfast.

He joined BBC Breakfast in 2001 as a presenter alongside Sian Williams and they worked together until 2012 when she departed after the programme moved from London to Salford.

The presenter co-anchored alongside Susanna Reid, with the pair presenting together until 2014, when Reid left the show to join ITV, and Turnbull’s other co-hosts included Louise Minchin and a number of others.

Recalling his most memorable moments from his breakfast career as left the BBC Breakfast show in February 2016, he recalled “nearly getting into a fight with a ventriloquist’s dummy called Bob” and wearing a jumper made of dog hair.

“It was all right, it was just very warm and I couldn’t get the stuff off me for weeks,” he said.

He made several television appearances outside of BBC Breakfast, including as the presenter on BBC One’s Songs Of Praise.

In 2005, he was a contestant on Strictly Come Dancing partnered with Karen Hardy, and was the 7th celebrity voted off the show.

Other TV appearances include ITV’s Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? and Through The Keyhole; the BBC’s Celebrity Mastermind, Would I Lie To You?, Pointless Celebrities and Room 101, and he appeared in the dictionary corner for Channel 4’s Countdown.

In 2011, he appeared in the Doctor Who episode The Wedding Of River Song in which he played himself.

Bill Turnbull shared his story of following League One side Wycombe Wanderers.

This appeared in the club’s matchday programme ‘Parklife’, published on 26th November 2016.

Where do you sit/stand?
Usually in the press box, sitting next to Phil Catchpole in the commentary position. It’s got a great view of the away end. The Valley End is harder to see – especially in the dark!

Who do you come to games with?
In the early days I used to come with my two sons and a friend, and we sat in the Woodlands. Now I tend to come on my own.

How long have you been a supporter?
The boys used to go to football camps run by WWFC at a local school. Since 2001, enticed by the magical FA Cup run. So we were glory hangers to a certain extent; and after two promotions, three relegations, a League Cup semi and a trip to Wembley, I’m still hanging on.

What made you first start coming to matches?
That Cup run.

What was your first match as a fan?
In order to get tickets to the famous tie against Wimbledon, we had to attend another game first – so it was at home against Brentford, as I recall. A nil-all draw; not much to remember.

What has been your favourite moment supporting the club?
Hard to decide, there have been some great times. The happiest afternoon was the day we went up decisively in 2011 on the last day, beating Southend 3-1 after conceding first. LJ (Leon Johnson) sprayed beer all over me in the tunnel afterwards.

Who’s the best player you’ve seen during your time as a fan?
In the quarters? Tough to choose. I’ve always admired the great ball players – Darren Currie, Kevin Betsy, and Sergio Torres. The best striker though was Nathan Tyson. On his day, with his pace he was a class above.

Who’s been your favourite player to wear the quarters and why?
Brownie. For sheer spirit, style, and humour.

Tell us a funny story from your time supporting the club?
MK Dons away, 2008. Left home in a hurry, left the tickets on the table. At the stadium, bought tickets for a second time – and got crapped on by a pigeon. Got to the bar just in time to find it closed. To cap it all, Wanderers conceded an equaliser deep in stoppage time. Laughed all the way home that day.

What does the club mean to you?
With so many memories over the years, it’s a bit like a home from home – especially now that I live 140 miles away. I’ve always said supporting a smaller team means so much more than following the big timers. You have more of a share in what’s going on, a much greater connection with the club. Players and managers come and go. But through good times and bad, it feels like being part of a family.

Describe Wycombe Wanderers in three words:
Resilient. Surviving. Mighty!

As mentioned, Britain pays tribute as Wycombe fan and former BBC Breakfast presenter Bill Turnbull dies age 66…

@jack_denn1s006: Words can’t described how shocked I am, rest in peace Bill 💙💙

@MB_GB_4: Fantastic bloke, very sad.

@Bevmeister: Incredibly sad day. My thoughts are with his family and friends at this time. Xx

@KarenO20071970: The world is a sadder place now he is no longer with us. What a great man. He did so much to highlight prostate cancer awareness, encouraging many to get tested…RIP Bill, much love to your family and friends.

@liamoace35: Absolute legend. Having a family member going through similar things I know all to well the impact it has on his family. RIP BILL

@JohnDWFC: A very sad day. I remember listening to the play off final at Wembley during the pandemic on the radio. All you could hear was Bill shouting ‘chairboys, chairboys’. It was a lovely sound.

@Jonnyraythrash: RIP Bill someone who loved the wanderers and gave so much to the club despite his busy work life. Truly sad and thoughts go out to all his family and friends.

@jasonpidge: Very sad news, all my commiserations to his family. I often saw him at games home and away and will never forget his sheer joy at us winning the playoff final when so few of us could attend due to the pandemic. He conveyed perfectly how we all felt! RIP

@GVP44: So incredibly sad. His legendary commentary will go down in the folklore of Wycombe. His accurate and funny comments about refs in nearly every match was refreshing and will be forever remembered RIP Bill.

@will__sp: RIP Ballroom Bill – his passion for the club always came through his commentary and his commendable efforts to get the club a name check at every opportunity during his broadcasting career. He’ll be sadly missed throughout the country, but especially in our corner of South Bucks.

@howardjacobson: Had the enormous pleasure of meeting and chatting to Bill and was kind enough to do a jingle for my Hospital Radio Show. Such a gentleman and will be sorely missed RIP

@trevor_stroud: It is an honour to have known him. His “unbiased” commentaries were a delight. RIP Bill.

@Alky007: A genuinely great man. Had time for everyone. Maybe the media room or press area could be named after him.

@RussWWFC: Sad news, a top guy. Scum cancer murders another victim. Taken far too soon. RIP.

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