William Robert Jolyon Turnbull
25 January 1956
Guildford, Surrey, England, UK
|Alma mater||University of Edinburgh|
|Occupation||Journalist and news presenter|
|Employer||BBC, Classic FM|
Songs of Praise (2013–)
Think Tank (2016)
William Robert Jolyon Turnbull (born 25 January 1956) is a British journalist and presenter, who currently works as a presenter for the radio station Classic FM, following many years as a presenter with the BBC.
Turnbull was born in Guildford, Surrey, South East England, to an English father of Scottish ancestry and an English mother. He was educated at Eton College and the University of Edinburgh, where he edited the student newspaper. He graduated from Cardiff University in 1978.
Turnbull's career began at Scottish local station Radio Clyde in 1978, and later, he freelanced for a number of years in the USA.
Turnbull joined the BBC as a reporter for the Today programme in 1986 and Breakfast Time as a reporter in 1988, before becoming a correspondent for BBC News in 1990. He covered a wide range of domestic and international stories, reporting from over thirty countries including a four-year stint as Washington Correspondent, based in the USA. His producer for a while was Sian Williams. In this role, he reported on a number of major American stories, including the O. J. Simpson murder trial and the Monica Lewinsky scandal that rocked Bill Clinton's presidency.
In 1997, Turnbull moved back to the UK and became one of the main presenters on BBC News 24, appearing alongside Valerie Sanderson. He also presented regular programmes on Radio 5 Live, including a stint as a presenter on Weekend Breakfast.
Turnbull joined the BBC Breakfast team in 2001 as a weekend presenter, presenting with Sian Williams initially and then later with Sarah Montague, Mishal Husain and Susanna Reid. He also regularly appeared as a relief presenter on the weekday programme, with Sophie Raworth, Natasha Kaplinsky, Kate Silverton and Louise Minchin. He became the main weekday presenter of Breakfast in 2008, rejoining Williams and replacing Dermot Murnaghan. Turnbull was also an occasional relief presenter of News at Six and News at One.
As well as anchoring programmes in the studio, Turnbull regularly presented on location. In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, he was sent to New Orleans to report for BBC News, presenting both Breakfast and the News at Six live from Biloxi and Gulfport, Mississippi. In the aftermath of the 7 July 2005 London bombings, Turnbull anchored Breakfast's coverage live from King's Cross railway station. He fronted the programme's coverage of the 2008 US presidential election live from Washington, D.C. and New York, and was in Washington once again for the 2012 US presidential election.
In 2005, he was a contestant in the third series of Strictly Come Dancing, partnered with Karen Hardy. In spite of a serious ankle injury in the second week (which then flared up at various points in the series), he stayed in the competition for seven weeks, finishing sixth out of twelve contestants.
In April and May 2010, Turnbull travelled around the UK presenting and reporting for Breakfast on the general election campaign trail. In June 2010 he presented Breakfast live from Whitehaven in the aftermath of the Cumbria shootings.
He joined the presenting team of the BBC's Songs of Praise in 2013.
It was announced on 2 September 2015 that Turnbull would be leaving Breakfast early the following year, after fifteen years. He presented his last episode, with Louise Minchin, on 26 February 2016.
In July 2016, Turnbull narrated another CBBC mockumentary comedy series based on Paignton Zoo called The Zoo. The series is still in production and was to be broadcast on CBBC in 2017.
Since April 2016, he has presented his own radio show on Classic FM. The show airs from 10:00 am until 1:00 pm on Saturday and Sunday.
In March 2018, just as his cancer diagnosis was made public, BBC One aired 10 episodes of Holding Back the Years, featuring Bill Turnbull with Fiona Phillips offering information on living well in later life.
In August 2006, Turnbull agreed to take part in a polyphasic sleep experiment presented on BBC One's The One Show. In this experiment, he slept for a total of three hours per day, in six thirty-minute bursts, for ten consecutive days. The effect of this sleep pattern on his health was visible, as he presented Breakfast almost every weekday during the duration of the exercise and became increasingly sleep-deprived.
In November 2006, he appeared alongside fellow BBC News presenters in a performance for Children in Need that Jan Moir, writing for The Telegraph, described as "charisma-free", adding that although Turnbull dressed up like James Bond, he looked like a "dodgy sommelier".
In 2009, he took part in the BBC series Around the World in 80 Days with Breakfast colleague Louise Minchin for Children in Need, travelling from Mongolia, through Russia and South Korea, before crossing the Pacific on a container ship and landing in California.
In 2011, he also made an appearance on the BBC One game show Pointless Celebrities alongside Sian Williams, which they won. He also appeared alongside Lee Mack and Louie Spence on Would I Lie To You? and made a guest appearance as himself in "The Wedding of River Song", the sixth series finale of Doctor Who, with his then Breakfast co-presenter Sian Williams.
In October 2021, he was a contestant on Richard Osman's House of Games.
Turnbull married Sarah McCombie in March 1988 in the London Borough of Hackney. The couple have two sons, Henry and Will (born October 1988 and October 1989), and a daughter Flora (born August 1991). Turnbull and his wife previously lived in Buckinghamshire but relocated to Rainow, Cheshire in 2012 following the move of BBC Breakfast to Salford.[better source needed] Subsequently, he moved to Suffolk.
Turnbull is a fan of Wycombe Wanderers F.C. where he commentates on home games for online listeners. His hobbies include beekeeping, chickens and dancing. In addition, Turnbull enjoyed long-distance running, having competed in the London Marathon on a number of occasions, and the Great North Run on 5 October 2008. On 8 September 2009, Turnbull was awarded an honorary doctorate from Buckinghamshire New University in recognition of his charity work within the Buckinghamshire community.
In May 2010, he published The Bad Beekeepers Club, a comedy book about the ups and downs of beekeeping.