Entertainment & Arts

Sian Williams looks back on her BBC Breakfast career

Image caption Sian Williams paid tribute to Breakfast co-host and long-time colleague Bill Turnbull

The BBC's Sian Williams has presented her last edition of Breakfast before the programme moves to its new studios in Salford.

Here the popular early morning host recalls moments from her 11-year career on the programme's famous sofa.

"Don't be nice," I said to Bill. "I won't," he said.

"I'm not even going to look at you for most of the programme and if I do happen to catch your eye, I'll throw you a glance of complete disdain."

"Good," I said. Pause.

"But, just so we're prepared," he adds. "What's our anti-blubbing strategy?" Ah.

Let me take you into my strange routine for more than 11 years on BBC Breakfast.

Up at 4am. Hot shower, then icy cold one, dither in front of the wardrobe, select clothes, gulp tea, grab two pots of still warm porridge, then a dash out of the front door.

Read the papers and briefing notes on interviews in the car on the way in. Arrive at Television Centre, talk to the team, head to make-up.

At 5.56am, Bill and I plop onto the sofa, fiddle around with earpieces and microphones and curse a lot. The countdown to the start of BBC Breakfast begins and, with 15 seconds to go, we raise our arms and wiggle them about, frantically. It's just a thing.

We have coffee on a Wednesday and Thursday, but never on a Monday or Tuesday. I know it's weird but if we don't follow the exact routine, every day, we think things would fall apart.

Once that red light goes on, though, it's never routine and rarely the same. News stories emerge and change. Interviews pop up one after the other. One minute you'll be interviewing the prime minister, the next it's Joan Collins or Will Smith or The Stranglers.

I've reported from political party conferences, presented from outside Parliament and Westminster Abbey, been sent to Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Thailand to cover an earthquake and a tsunami. It has been the most extraordinarily varied job, and I've been very privileged to have it for so long.

'My top lip began to quiver'

The people behind what you see on the screen are hard-working and dedicated, they are the ones up all night, trying to get more than three hours of great, live television together.

And the audience, who are loyal, clever and passionate, engage with the programme as soon as we are on air. I've been overwhelmed by the affection and support for the show and those who work on it.

So, after presenting nearly 2,000 editions of BBC Breakfast, to the last day and that promise by Bill and I to hold it all together in the final few minutes. We've known each other for more than 20 years, when we first worked together in the US, he as a reporter, I as a producer.

We can make each other laugh, or cry, in an instant. We have no "anti-blubbing" strategy.

I was fine as well. We got through the programme telling each other it was "business as usual". We had an important job to do and we couldn't be distracted by anything. Until we got the the very last half hour.

Carol Kirkwood said some wonderful things and started welling up, I grabbed the box of tissues and then former Poet Laureate Andrew Motion arrived on the sofa.

All was going OK until the end of the interview, when he read me a poem that he'd written for me. That started it off. Mary Portas then said something lovely.

And finally, Bill introduced a montage of moments from January 2001 to the present day, and my top lip began to quiver. As did his. I stuttered out something about how much I appreciated the team, the Breakfast family and Bill. Then I thanked the audience, and the programme came to an end.

Goodbye and good luck BBC Breakfast. I've been privileged to be part of your success.

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