Classic FM to broadcast special programme in tribute to Bill Turnbull

The show will feature some of his favourite classical music and tributes from friends and colleagues.

Classic FM will broadcast a special tribute programme in honour of its presenter Bill Turnbull this weekend.

The show, Remembering Bill Turnbull, will air on Saturday from 10am to 1pm in what would have been his usual time slot.

Hosted by fellow Classic FM presenter Aled Jones, the programme will feature on-air highlights from Turnbull, who died aged 66 on Wednesday after what his family said was a “challenging and committed fight against prostate cancer”.

The three-hour programme will feature a selection of his favourite classical music, including William Lloyd Webber’s Serenade For Strings, The Humming Chorus by Puccini, Mozart’s Cosi Fan Tutte and The Armed Man by Sir Karl Jenkins.

A number of his most loved film and television themes, such as Band Of Brothers, Inspector Morse, Brideshead Revisited and Thunderbirds, will also be played.

The show will be interspersed with tributes from other broadcasters who knew Turnbull best, as well as messages from his fellow Classic FM presenters and his many listeners.

Classic FM also hopes to continue his legacy by using the show to raise further awareness of prostate cancer and encourage more men to get themselves checked.

Turnbull joined Classic FM in 2016, where he hosted Saturday and Sunday programmes, and also launched and presented Classic FM’s Pet Classics, to help keep pets and their owners relaxed during fireworks season.

He was diagnosed with prostate cancer in November 2017 and later fronted the Channel 4 documentary Bill Turnbull: Staying Alive.

On Friday, many of Turnbull’s former BBC Breakfast colleagues appeared on the show to celebrate his “life and legacy”.

Susanna Reid, who worked alongside him on the BBC show before she moved to ITV, described him as the “perfect gentleman” and “incredibly generous”.

She also recounted how he had helped one of her children overcome their fear of dogs, saying her former colleague was like “the dog whisperer”.

Another of Turnbull’s co-presenters, Sian Williams, also shared her memories of working with him for more than a decade.

Williams left BBC Breakfast in 2012.

In 2016 she disclosed for the first time that she had had a double mastectomy after being diagnosed with breast cancer. She told Woman And Home magazine that she had been diagnosed a week after her 50th birthday in 2014.

She said of Turnbull: “He was a very loyal friend, and a very supportive friend. When I was diagnosed with breast cancer, he was one of the first to reach out and say he was thinking of me and connected with me in that way.

“Then when he was diagnosed with prostate cancer, we did an interview together for the Radio Times where he talked really openly about having things going on in his body, with his bones aching and not quite knowing what was going on, and wishing that he had gone to see the doctor sooner.

“Being that honest about his cancer just meant so many people got themselves checked.”

Turnbull had a passion for beekeeping, leading to the 2011 publication of his book The Bad Beekeepers Club, a humorous account of the ups and downs of an apiarist.

He was also an avid supporter of Wycombe Wanderers, and the players will wear black armbands in his memory this weekend before holding a celebration of his life on September 10.

Bill Turnbull and colleagues
Bill Turnbull and colleagues at the Television and Radio Industries Club Annual Awards in 2010 (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

Turnbull’s family praised the treatment he received at the Royal Marsden and Ipswich hospitals, St Elizabeth Hospice and from his GP, and said in a statement: “He was resolutely positive and was hugely buoyed by the support he received from friends, colleagues and messages from people wishing him luck.

“It was a great comfort to Bill that so many more men are now testing earlier for this disease.

“Bill will be remembered by many as a remarkable broadcaster who brought warmth and humour into people’s homes on BBC Breakfast and Classic FM.”

He is survived by his wife Sesi, who he married in March 1988, and their three children.

Following news of his death, Prostate Cancer UK chief executive Laura Kerby said Turnbull had saved lives and encouraged “thousands and thousands” of men to come forward for testing through his campaigning.