The former BBC Breakfast host is reuniting with co-star Susanna Reid.
Bill Turnbull departed BBC Breakfast in 2016.
“When Bill came into GMB, he joked about filling in for Piers – and now he is! It will be lovely to work alongside him again. I expect Bill presenting a breakfast show again will be like a duck taking to water – if the early alarm call isn’t too much of a shock.”- Susannah Reid
[pullquote]“It might be that the beast might be unleashed on air, you’ll have to watch and find out.” – Bill Turnbull[/pullquote]
Susanna Reid and her old presenting partner, Bill Turnbull, are set to be reunited to co-host Good Morning Britain for a special three-day run at the end of the month, on February 24th, 25th and 26th.
The veteran broadcaster, who worked alongside Susanna on the rival Beeb breakfast show, admitted he was “thrilled” to be back working with her.
In a candid interview Bill opened up about the secrets behind the perfect TV partnership, filling in for Piers Morgan and his 2017 diagnosis with prostate cancer.
Bill and Susanna on the set of BBC Breakfast, broadcast from the Beeb’s Salford Quays site.
Are you looking forward to coming onto GMB to host with Susanna?
Susanna’s an old friend. I first worked with her in Washington when I was a correspondent and she was a producer, which must be 25 years ago. It’s great when you work with someone you like on television and it’s effortless.
It comes really naturally and you develop a rhythm and a silent understanding of who is going to do what and you recognise each other’s patterns and it’s easy. When you come off air, you feel like you’ve really enjoyed it, that’s when it works well. Sometimes you come off air and your head is ready to explode because you haven’t got on so well with your on air partner. But I’ve been blessed with most of mine that it’s always been good. I’m thrilled to be working with her again.
What would your colleagues think of you defecting to ITV and the rival show?
Oh gosh! I don’t know. I hope they will be glad to see I’m still working. They are still very good friends of mine. I’m just back in the game, I suppose. Television Centre is where I started in television more than 30 years ago, and presenting 20 years ago. I never imagined I would be able to do a show from there again. It’s great Good Morning Britain is there. So, in some ways it’s like coming home.
How are you going to find those early starts again?
I’m in two minds about the early mornings! On the one hand, it’s great to be back doing live television. The other part of me thinks, ‘What on earth am I doing?’, having sworn never to do breakfast television again! But here I am doing it and it’s only in the short term, I’m in for three mornings.
How is your presenting style different to Piers’?
Answering that would put me on thin ice, on deep water! But I can say, I don’t have such strong opinions as Piers has and I don’t voice them as much as he likes to. There are quite a few differences between us.
Tell us about TV chemistry and finding a perfect on screen partnership…
Chemistry in television is an alchemy and sometimes you end up with pure TV gold and sometimes you end up with sulphuric acid. It just depends on how the two of you gel.
When we went to Salford, Susanna was absolutely determined to make it work. She had to really work hard at it as she was still living in London and travelling. So she put her heart and soul into it. She was having to do twice as much as I was and I admired her hugely for that.
What’s it like being more outspoken on GMB?
It goes against my personal grain really as I’m so used to not spouting off on air. I’ve been working on commercial radio, so to a limited degree I’ve had more freedom. But who knows what might happen. It might be that the beast might be unleashed on air, you’ll have to watch and find out.
Bill teamed up with former ITV breakfast/GMTV host Fiona Phillips for Holding Back The Years in 2018 for BBC One.
How is your health at the moment, Bill?
Ok at the moment. When you have cancer, it’s always there. But currently I feel really good, most of the time. I have changed my diet considerably and in the past few months I have felt healthier than I have in a long time. The only thing I do have is, because I’m on a hormone treatment, I do get hot flushes sometimes. I’m a bit nervous as it could be slightly awkward in the studio. Normally what happens if I get a hot flush, I get all red in the face and I take my jacket off and cool down. I’m not sure I’m going to be able to do that. We may need to get a little fan.
How has being ill changed your outlook on life and work?
On a work front, I measure it more because of my age than my illness because I can’t run around as much as I did at 30 or 40. I make sure I don’t overdo it. Occasionally, I turn things down, if it means a lot of travel and work. But I think having cancer has changed my attitude to a lot of things, to death as well as life.
If your life prospects are shortened considerably that does sharpen the mind. But I feel relaxed about it. I’ve done a lot of thinking and a lot of reading and my attitude to the world and my place in it has matured in the last year or two. What’s going on in your mind can have a big effect on what’s going on in your body. I’ve learnt a lot about that.
Doctors tell you to think positively but it’s hard to do that sometimes. I’ve been lucky most of the time, 90 per cent of the time I can stay positive. There are two ways to have cancer, either it gets on top of you or you get on top of it. I know which way round I need to be.
How has your wife’s support made such a difference?
I don’t know how I would carry on without her to be honest. She is there for me morning, noon and night. If I feel slightly under the weather she is always there to make sure I’m ok and I think psychologically her support is hugely important. When I have down days, like most people with cancer do and which I do occasionally, she’s there to lift me up and that’s really important.
You must be pleased that so many men have spoken to their GPs about symptoms of prostate cancer following the ‘Bill Bounce’?
It’s hugely gratifying. It makes a lot of difference. In an odd way, I’ve been able to help people because of what I’ve said and what particularly Stephen Fry has said. It’s a big consolation. It lifts you knowing that other people are getting treatment and living longer lives because we shared our experience. It’s hugely important to shine a light on it. The more light we shine on it the more strength and more power we have over the disease. We have got to talk about it so that people can share their experience and their knowledge.
Who would be your perfect interviewee to have sat on the sofa?
My ideal interview would be The Queen. That ain’t going to happen! But can you imagine what that would be like? It would be lovely. We would have to go and do an OB (Outside broadcast) from Buckingham Palace. I have met her briefly a couple of times and it would be utterly fascinating. That’s the interview to get. But it’s my idea, so I get to do it!
Good Morning Britain on ITV weekdays from 6am to 9am.