Dan Walker, who has presented BBC Breakfast for six years, is leaving the show to host other programs on Channel 5. He says it was “a real privilege” to be part of the BBC.
“It’s always been my dream to do a job like this. It feels a bit surreal I won’t be sitting on the sofa anymore,” Walker revealed on Tuesday’s episode.
Louis Minchin, who was once a co-host for the show, made an unexpected return to wave him off.
“It’s very emotional to be here. You have touched the hearts of the nation. I loved working with you, and we had such fun times,” said Minchin to Walker. “He’s never going to let you down … when things were going wrong, he’d look you in the eye and say: ‘You got this.’ You give people confidence, and that’s a beautiful thing.”
There were pictures of Walker displayed from childhood until the present day, with a large percentage being shown in dedication to his send-off.
A “best bits” montage showing messages from fans, funny moments – such as the time strongman Eddie Hall raised him into the air, and poignant ones – including the fly-past for Tony Foulds, a man who has catered a memorial to 10 US airmen for decades.
The campaign for fly-past started following Walker’s encounter with Foulds by chance and revealed his story. Furthermore, there were recorded farewells from prominent personalities such as Olympic champions Jessica Ennis-Hill and Adam Peaty, as well as former rugby league star Rob Burrows – whose battle against motor neuron disease has been closely followed by BBC Breakfast.
“I’ve had so many incredible memories. Thank you for tuning in,” said Walker. “Things change. Change can be tough sometimes, but it’s also good. Keep watching, and thank you for having me.
“I love doing this job, and I always find it amazing that other people enjoy watching you do something that you love.”
Walker received a greeting through the video link from his Strictly Come Dancing partner, who said he was “the best student; we had such an amazing time.” There were also messages of support and congratulations sent by Strictly judges and dancers Shirley Ballas and Anton du Beke.
“Thank you for making me laugh my legs off, for being funny and kind, thank you for being my friend,” said co-presenter Sally Nugent.
Walker tweeted his sentiments about his final show – that he had two hours and 46 minutes of sleep before this last episode, joking it was “not the best prep for the final day.”
He’s been the presenter of BBC’s Football Focus for years – from 2009 to 2021, and he passed those reins onto Alex Scott last year.
He will now replace Sian Williams as the Channel 5 news anchor. Williams announced her departure from the channel earlier this year. Like Walker, she was also from the BBC Breakfast sofa and went to Channel 5 in 2016.
Walker announced his departure in a video posted on Twitter last month, captioning that it was a “massive decision” to bow out of the BBC, but “I don’t think opportunities like this come around very often.”
Opinions expressed by Artist Weekly contributors are their own.