Dan Walker on ‘really difficult decision' to leave BBC Breakfast
BBC Breakfast presenter Dan Walker said his decision to leave the programme and join Channel 5 was a “really difficult” one, but that his new remit will allow him to make programmes “outside of news”.
The 45-year-old presented Football Focus from 2009 to 2021 and has been a fixture on the corporation’s flagship breakfast show since 2016, and also previously fronted Breakfast with Louise Minchin, who departed in September 2021.
He will be taking over as the presenter of 5 News from Dr Sian Williams, who announced her departure earlier this month, and who said in a congratulatory message to Walker on Twitter: “I know what it’s like to move from the @BBCBreakfast sofa to @channel5_tv and you will love it”.
Speaking to his co-host Sally Nugent the morning after announcing his news, and responding to Nugent’s comment that they had been friends for 20 years but only worked on Breakfast together for six months, he said: “I know, but in all honesty you know that, as I explained to you before all the news came out, this has been a really difficult decision for me.
“Probably the hardest decision I’ve ever had to make in my career, because I love you to bits and I really love working with you, and thank you, and I love the team at BBC Breakfast, and the six years I’ve had on this sofa have been the best six years of my career by some distance.”
He added: “But I think sometimes opportunities come along and you have to grab them, don’t you?
“And I’ve never ever been motivated by money in any job that I’ve ever taken, and even though I love BBC Breakfast, everybody that works on the show, this is a fantastic opportunity to work with a brilliant team at Channel 5 and also go and make some other programmes outside of news.”
The 2020/2021 annual report for the BBC listed Walker’s salary as being between £295,000-£299,999, with programme commitments listed as Football Focus, which he has since left, and also BBC Breakfast programmes.
Details of his new salary have not been disclosed.
Walker also thanked everyone for “so many lovely messages” after he announced he was leaving, adding that he had told Nugent “I don’t think anybody will care but I’ve had so many lovely messages from BBC Breakfast viewers and loads of other people as well”.
He took part in the 2021 series of Strictly Come Dancing, saying he signed up for the show to do something “fun” and have a “giggle” after reporting on difficult news stories during the pandemic.
He was sent home from the BBC One series after his quarter-finals tango with partner Nadiya Bychkova failed to earn him a spot in the semi-final.
Cait FitzSimons, editor of 5 News, said she looked forward to working with Walker “to build on the success of our new hour-long programme and finding more ways to tell stories that touch viewers’ lives across the nation”.
Walker’s new remit will see him presenting recently re-launched flagship news bulletin 5 News, as well as “fronting a range of new programming on the channel”, Channel 5 said.
His exit from the BBC follows a string of other high profile names over the last few months, including Emily Maitlis, Jon Sopel and veteran journalist Andrew Marr.
A BBC source said: “People come, people go, but we have lots of existing talent and new and emerging stars and there is always a natural point where people move on.”