Dan Walker, the host of BBC Breakfast, has announced that he will be leaving the show after six years to become a news anchor for Channel 5. He expressed his gratitude to viewers and said it had been “a real privilege” being part of this successful program.
“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, the former co-host of the show, made a surprise comeback 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.”
In a touching display, Salford Breakfast studio honored Walker with an entire wall-to-wall showing of Walker from childhood to the present day. In addition, the last half hour of the show is dedicated 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.
Following their chance encounter with Walker, Foulds’ story was revealed to the world. Moreover, there are recorded farewells from prominent personalities such as Olympic champions Jessica Ennis-Hill and Adam Peaty and former rugby league star Rob Burrows – whose battle against motor neuron disease has been 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 video greeting from his Strictly Come Dancing partner Nadia Bychkova, who said he had been “the best student; we had such an amazing time.” There were also messages from judges and dancers on the show, such as Shirley Ballas or 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 a Football Focus presenter for over ten years – from 2009 to 2021 – and he passed the reins onto Alex Scott after that.
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.”