Dan Walker's send-off: Louise Minchin surprises him on BBC Breakfast

Dan Walker’s big send-off: Louise Minchin surprises her former co-host during emotional return to red sofa as BBC Breakfast dedicates 30-minute tribute to presenter on his final show before leaving for Channel 5

  • Dan Walker was given an emotional 30 minute send-off on BBC Breakfast today 
  • It was the presenter’s last appearance on the show before he joins Channel 5 
  • Several people appeared on the show today, including ex-host Louise Minchin 

Louise Minchin made a surprise return to BBC Breakfast this morning as part of a half-hour tribute segment for Dan Walker’s last day.

Minchin, 53, left the show last autumn after 20 years but returned today to share a warm embrace with her co-presenter Walker, 45. 

Walker is set to join Channel 5 to become the lead anchor on 5 News, which will see him reportedly pocket £1.5million to host the channel’s nightly news programme.

He was given an emotional farewell as he made his final appearance on BBC Breakfast after six years at the helm. 

Walker’s current co-host Sally Nugent led the outpouring as the BBC aired a 30-minute tribute to him, which saw appearances from his Strictly Come Dancing partner Nadiya Bychkova and members of the Breakfast production team, as well as Minchin.

Dan Walker shared an embrace with his former BBC Breakfast co-host Louise Minchin on his final appearance on the show today

An emotional Minchin told her former co-host: ‘It’s an absolute pleasure and very emotional to be here.

‘I know lots of people watching will be very sad that you’re leaving, because you have touched the hearts of the nation over the last six years. I know people have loved watching you. I loved working with you.’

Addressing viewers at the end of the show, Walker said: ‘There aren’t many jobs where you have a chance to give other people a voice. That’s what we all love doing more than anything else.

‘Thank you for tuning in. Thank you for all the lovely messages over the years. We never ever take any of that for granted.

‘To be serious for a minute, at a time when trust and truth have never been more important, it’s great to work with a team that do everything to make sure that what we do is fair and accurate.’ 

A cake was brought to the table for Walker depicting him in a lobster costume from his Strictly dance. 

Minchin had earlier hinted at her return by posting a photo of her sitting in a makeup chair with stacks of brushes in front of her. She captioned it: ‘Good morning, I am up early any guesses where I am what I am up to?’ 

Sally Nugent said it is the ‘end of an era’ as she shared a picture of herself alongside Walker.

She tweeted: ‘End of an era. Join us on @BBCBreakfast with @mrdanwalker for the last time. One or two surprises on the way.’

Walker also revealed he only managed ‘two hours and 46 minutes’ sleep before hosting his final BBC Breakfast due to ‘travel issues’ the night before.

The minister’s son who doesn’t work Sundays … who is Dan Walker?

Dan Walker is the son of a minister and was born in Crawley, Sussex.

He was educated in the town before heading north to Sheffield, where he got a BA in history and MA in journalism from the university.

His news career started at Hallam FM in the Steel City before he moved to Manchester’s Key 103 radio.

But he dipped his toe in TV with Grenada then North West Tonight at the BBC.

He was also able to keep his love of sport alive, covering Football Focus from 2009, as well as multi football tournaments and other sports.

But he became a household name for many when he joined Breakfast in 2016, taking over from Bill Turnbull.

He had cohosted it with Louise Minchin from Monday to Wednesday until last year when she stepped down.

Walker is married to Sarah, who he met at university and with whom he has three children.

He is a practising Christian and does not work on Sundays.

As the 45-year-old took his ‘final stroll’ into the BBC studio in the early hours of Tuesday morning, he uploaded a video to his social media accounts saying he did not have the ‘best prep for the final day’.

In a previous post from the night before, Walker said he was stuck on the M4 charging his electric vehicle and joked he may not make it to the studio in time.

On Tuesday morning, he managed to get home eventually but it was late in the evening, so he only got ‘two hours and 46 minutes” sleep.

Despite that, he commented on the ‘glorious morning’ and said he was heading into his final show ‘armed with cakes for the brilliant breakfast team who have been a pleasure to work for the last six years’.

Walker, who had been a fixture on the show since 2016, announced his departure earlier this month.

He leaves the BBC to join Channel 5 to become the lead anchor on 5 News.

Walker also previously presented the BBC’s Football Focus show from 2009 to 2021.

He took part in the 2021 series of Strictly Come Dancing, revealing he signed up for the show to do something ‘fun’ and have a ‘giggle’ after reporting on difficult news stories during the pandemic.

Channel 5 said his new remit will see him presenting recently relaunched flagship news bulletin 5 News, as well as ‘fronting a range of new programming on the channel’.

Beginning his final week at the BBC, Walker said he was ‘very sad’ and posted a video on social media using a viral snapchat filter that gives people a permanent sad face.

He previously told Nugent that it would be nice to be getting slightly more sleep in his new role but that the decision to leave had also been a ‘big’ and ‘sad’ one.

‘It is nice but, as I have explained to you, it’s also quite … it was a big decision and it’s quite a sad one as well,’ he told her on the programme.

‘The other thing to say is thank you to everybody who sent so many lovely messages, and one thing I have realised, because lots of people want to chat to you, don’t they, about this programme, because it means an awful lot to an awful lot of people, it’s reminded me how special this show is and how much everybody who watches it loves it, so thank you very much to everyone who’s come up and said some lovely things.’

It was previously revealed that Walker’s replacement on the BBC’s flagship morning show will earn less than half of his salary.

Walker’s current co-host Sally Nugent led the outpouring as the BBC aired a 30-minute tribute to him, which saw appearances from his Strictly Come Dancing partner Nadiya Bychkova and members of the Breakfast production team

Dan Walker seen leaving The BBC Breakfast Studio’s at Media City for the last time on his last day carrying a cake and a huge blow up lobster with his former presenter Sally Nugent and Louise Minchin

Posting on Twitter last week, BBC Breakfast editor Richard Frediani shared the job description for a chief presenter to work alongside hosts Sally Nugent, Naga Munchetty and Charlie Stayt on the Salford-based programme.

The three-day-a-week job comes under the BBC’s F pay bracket, meaning the successful candidate will earn between £60,000 and £120,000 per year – compared to the £295,000 paid to Walker last year.

While Walker’s overall pay packet would have included a few months’ work on Football Focus before he stood down, the new anchor will also take home less than Stayt, who earned £190,000 in the year 2020/21.

Meanwhile, Ms Munchetty has a salary of £255,000, although that does include her pay for her Radio 5 Live show.

The permanent contract is for 26.5 hours per week and, while BBC sources say that it is policy to advertise jobs, eyebrows have been raised among staff that the post has still to be filled.

Walker will be the face of the revamped 5pm current affairs programme on 5 News alongside Claudia-Liza Vanderpuije.

But he will also have scope to cover non-news programmes for the channel, which he also did for the BBC with shows such as Football Focus.

The BBC’s ‘brain drain’ of top talent

Dan Walker is the latest on-air star to ditch the BBC, joining the likes of Jon Sopel, Emily Maitlis and Andrew Marr, as well as his former co-presenter Louise Minchin. 

Leading presenters Andrew Neil and Simon McCoy have also left the BBC in the past year. 

The BBC previously dismissed the ‘brain drain’ of top talent ditching the broadcaster as ‘people come, people go’.

Insiders said there was always a ‘natural point where people move on’ but there are mounting fears the Corporation will be left with a lack of experienced presenters.

A BBC source told MailOnline: ‘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.’

Media experts estimated he would rake in £350,000 a year, with a ‘golden handshake’ signing on cheque for £50,000.

One told MailOnline: ‘Let’s be honest, Channel 5 are not a channel you go to if you are still climbing your profession are they?

‘I think my TV still has problems tuning into the station.

‘They would have offered him a golden handshake, £50,000 upon signing the contract.

‘£350,000 a year, decent pension contributions. He knows he will be a bigger fish in a smaller pond now – may seem attractive too?’

Walker is the son of a minister and was born in Crawley, Sussex. He is a practising Christian so does not work on Sundays.

He was educated in the town before heading north to Sheffield, where he got a BA in history and MA in journalism from the university.

His news career started at Hallam FM in the Steel City before he moved to Manchester’s Key 103 radio.

But he first dipped his toe in television with Grenada then North West Tonight at the BBC.

He was also able to keep his love of sport alive, covering Football Focus from 2009, as well as multi football tournaments and other sports.

But he became a household name for many when he joined Breakfast in 2016, taking over from Bill Turnbull.

He had co-hosted it with Louise Minchin from Monday to Wednesday until last year when she stepped down.

Walker is married to Sarah, who he met at university and with whom he has three children.

He previously said he ‘can’t wait to get stuck into the daily news show’, adding ‘I love their ideas and creativity’.

Walker wrote on Twitter: ‘I have a little bit of news for you.

‘In the next few weeks I’m going to be leaving BBC Breakfast and moving to 5News and to Channel 5.

‘I’m really excited but this has also been a massive decision for me because I love BBC Breakfast. I love working alongside Sally and I love the team there.

‘But Channel 5 came with big ambitions, with big plans and I don’t think opportunities like this come around very often and I can’t wait.

‘I’ve also had the incredible privilege of working on some iconic programmes over the last few years, both at the BBC and elsewhere.

‘What I love about this deal is I not only get to present the news but also host a whole range of new programmes right across the channel.

‘And what an honour to step into the shoes of Sian Williams. I know how popular she is with both the team and the audience.

He said: ‘All I can say is I will do my very best to maintain her incredibly high standards.’

Walker added in a statement: ‘I can’t wait to get stuck into the daily news show, but I am also excited about making some great new TV for Channel 5.

‘I love their ideas and creativity and it’s rare to get an opportunity like this where paths and ambitions meet. The chance to do something different was too good to turn down.’

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