Louise Minchin told viewers she will see them “somewhere on the other side” as she presented BBC Breakfast for the final time.
The 53-year-old, who first appeared on the broadcaster’s flagship morning news show in 200l, was joined by her father Patrick, husband David, celebrity friends and colleagues for her final broadcast.
Seated alongside Dan Walker, her co-presenter of the last five-and-a-half years, she thanked him, saying it was due to him that she had stayed on the programme “much longer than I actually meant to”.
She added: “We’ve been through tough stories. We’ve been through tough programmes. The one thing has been absolutely clear… you always have my back. You’ve made me laugh, you made me roll my eyes, you pass me tissues when I cried…”
Minchin, who confirmed in June that she would be leaving the programme, thanked the BBC Breakfast team and viewers.
She said: “And finally, and kind of most importantly, to everyone who’s watching. It is really, really thanks to you for watching all of these years. You are absolutely at the heart of everything that we do. And it has… I feel proud, it’s been a privilege to sit here on the red sofa and report on our shared history. You’ve made me feel welcome in your homes, welcome in your hearts.”
Before her emotional speech, Walker said a long goodbye as he admitted: “I haven’t been looking forward to this day, as I’ve told you.”
He told Minchin: “From the minute I started with you on this amazing programme we got on. And, as I said earlier, it’s hard to find someone who makes everything so comfortable, but you are that person. That’s one of your special gifts. I don’t think we’ve had a single argument in our five-and-a-half years on TV, which is incredibly rare, if anybody knows anything about TV…”
“Also, there’s been a lot to deal with on this programme, you know, both on and off the camera. But I’m really proud and I feel very privileged that we’ve done and dealt with that together. And, you know, we’ve turned to each other when we needed each other and I don’t think that will ever change.”
He finished by saying he would “genuinely really miss you every single day. I get asked all the time at the minute ‘What are you going to do without Louise?’ I don’t know. I don’t know what I’ll do without you.”
Celebrities, sport stars and former BBC colleagues all featured in a video montage to say farewell, with fellow presenter Charlie Stayt saying it “has always been an absolute joy doing BBC Breakfast with you”, while Naga Munchetty described Minchin as “brilliant”, adding: “And I think you’re going to carry on being brilliant away from here…”
Minchin’s husband and her daughters, Scarlett and Mia, also featured.
Her former BBC co-presenter Bill Turnbull ended a moving tribute saying Minchin is “most of all a warm, sunny person who will always be my friend”.
TV star Robert Rinder was revealed as one of the people sporting a Minchin mask and shared anecdotes about his friendship with her. In 2020 the pair were among a group of celebrities who took part in a Sport Relief challenge in the Namib Desert.
Former Strictly Come Dancing judge Dame Darcey Bussell also paid tribute to Minchin, saying: “I have loved watching you over the last 20 years on the BBC early in the morning and I’ve been lucky enough to sit with you a few times, you are going to be so missed…”
Minchin, a keen triathlete, was presented with a wetsuit from sporting brothers Jonny and Alistair Brownlee, and Walker gave her a cake, with a figure of her on top, created by 3D Cakes, which has previously made confections for members of the royal family.
During her tenure on the programme Minchin has covered a string of major global news stories including general elections, Brexit, the coronavirus pandemic and terror attacks.
She has also interviewed famous faces including the Duchess of Cambridge, singer Billie Eilish and naturalist Sir David Attenborough.
In 2019, she hosted the Wake Up To Menopause campaign after revealing that she suffered hot flushes while presenting live TV.
She also took up endurance sport after competing in a BBC Breakfast Christmas cycling challenge and has gone on to compete internationally for the GB triathlon team in her age group.