Louise Minchin on why she's leaving the BBC

Louise Minchin

Louise Minchin - Credit: Archant

There are just a handful of specific times and dates from my journalism career that are hard-wired into my memory and 0835 on Tuesday, June 8, is now one of them.

That was the moment I told our loyal BBC Breakfast viewers that nearly 20 years after I first presented the programme, I had decided I can’t keep setting my alarm for 0340. 

It has been a decision a long time coming and one I don’t take lightly because as much as 
I might struggle with the gruelling middle-of-the-night wake-up call, it is hard to give up a job I love and feel both privileged and proud to do.

The moment of telling everyone was scary; it felt as if I was wilfully jumping over the edge of a cliff not knowing what was below me but hoping to land safely. But there are so many reasons why now is the right time to go. There is no doubt the last year, living through a global pandemic, has been part of it.

Like most of you, any holiday I have had has been mostly spent at home, and instead of doing what I normally would do – cramming my life right up to the last moment and leaving straight after a shift on BBC Breakfast – there has been no head-long rush into downtime. Instead of a long car journey or a flight into a different time zone, I could stop setting my alarm, stay asleep as long as I liked and wake up when my body decided it was morning.

People often ask me if, when I am not working, if I wake up at silly o’clock, and the truth is, I never do. If I am left to my own devices, I naturally sleep until 0915 (yup, I know it is late), which is when the programme ends. I imagine you can see the problem.

When I was on holiday, I never really thought about what time I was waking up or going to bed, but here in my own space it was different. I started to take note of what I was up to. I would find myself binge-watching box-sets beside my husband or one of the girls, always skipping straight onto the next episode rather than going to sleep; and staying up into the early hours reading, just because I could. 

READ MORE – Louise Minchin volunteers at a Covid vaccination centre in Chester 

It made me think about a comment from one of the sleep experts I spoke to on BBC Breakfast, that we all have a natural propensity to either wake up early or sleep late. From what I briefly told him about my sleep patterns he said I was essentially fighting biology by doing my job.

Most Read

Sometimes it really feels like that. There are about only six weeks in the year that I arrive at work when it is light and those are the only weeks when I find it easy from a physical point of view. After nearly two decades, the time has finally come to give up the battle with my biorhythm.

So, what’s next? A good question and so far, I only know the easy bit of the answer – I will turn off my alarm clock.
Apart from that, I am planning to write a book, which will combine my love of hearing people’s stories and exercise. 

I will also continue to write here in Cheshire Life about life after BBC Breakfast, so you can be part of the journey. And who knows where it will take me? 

Read Louise's Cheshire Life column every month. In the October issue, Louise will be looking back on her years at the BBC and the many stories she has reported on.

SUBSCRIBE: To Cheshire Life magazine's print or digital editions to discover everything that's wonderful about living in the county