An emotional Louise Minchin was applauded into the newsroom as she hosted BBC Breakfast for the final time.
The 53-year-old presenter first appeared on the broadcaster’s flagship morning news show in 2001 and joked that she was leaving to escape the gruelling early starts.
On Wednesday’s show, Minchin revealed that her BBC pass had already been deactivated and she was locked out of the office.
Viewers were shown a video of her walking through the newsroom and being applauded by her colleagues, before co-presenter Dan Walker shared tributes from those watching at home.
Minchin said she was “embarrassed and humbled and tearful” by the messages.
Addressing viewers, she said: “Thank you so much for your huge support, I think particularly over the last two years as well. It’s been really tough, hasn’t it, and I’ve felt we’re all part of a story together, a shared history, and it’s been amazing to be here.”
She added: “Some people have literally grown up watching me, as they say.
“And I feel really privileged to have been in that position and have worked here all those years.
“There have been tough days, there have been tough stories. But it’s been amazing and I’m really, genuinely touched by all those things that people have said.”
Minchin confirmed in June that she would be leaving the programme.
Speaking to the Mirror this week about her decision, Minchin said: “I find the early morning really difficult and another winter of the dark mornings was not what I wanted to do anymore.
“I just thought ‘I can’t face another winter’, because I’ve worked out over the last 20 years there’s about six weeks in the year when I go to work and it’s light, and those are the six weeks that I find the easiest.”
Minchin has covered a string of major global news stories during her time on BBC Breakfast, 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.