Lights, camera, lockdown: Behind the scenes at BBC Breakfast with Dan Walker

BBC Breakfast presenter Dan Walker has shared some insights into his working day during the coronavirus.

Walker took up his position on the famous red sofa in February 2016 following the departure of Bill Turnbull.

He and co-presenter Louise Minchin are among the news anchors who have had to adapt to working safely during lockdown and implementing social distancing within a busy TV studio.

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BBC Breakfast presenters Mike Bushell, Louise Minchin, Dan Walker, Naga Munchetty, Carol Kirkwood and Sally Nugent attending the National Television Awards 2017 held at the O2, London. Photo credit should read: Doug Peters/EMPICS Entertainment
BBC handout photo dated 17/1/2008 of BBCBreakfast presenter Bill Turnbull (right), who is leaving the show after 15 years, with other presenters past and present during celebrations to mark the programme's 25th anniversary, including (left to right) Angela Rippon, Francis Wilson, Chris Hollins, Glyn Christian, Selena Scott, Sue Cook, Sian Williams and Mike Smith.
Naga Munchetty attending the BAFTA Craft Awards at the Brewery in London.
BBC Breakfast presenter Naga Munchetty
BBC Breakfast's Mike Bushell during the Mens BBC Breakfast v U23 60m final during the Muller Indoor Grand Prix at Arena Birmingham.
Presenter Mike Bushell during the British Swimming Awards 2018 at the Point, Lancashire County Cricket Club, Manchester
Mike Bushell attends ITV Palooza!, Royal Festival Hall, Southbank, London. Tuesday October 16th, 2018.
BBC Breakfast presenter Louise Minchin
File photo dated 26/9/2014 of former BBC Breakfast presenter Sian Williams who has become the new face of Channel 5's flagship evening news programme, 5 News at 5.
BBC Breakfast presenters (left to right) Sally Nugent, Bill Turnbull and Louise Minchin attend the TRIC Awards at Grosvenor House, Park Lane, London.
BBC Breakfast Weather Presenter Carol Kirkwood, smiles as she arrives at West Newton Village Hall, in Norfolk where she is the guest speaker at the Sandringham Women's Institute, attended by the Queen Elizabeth II.
BBC Breakfast's sports presenter Chris Hollins during the BMW PGA Pro-Am at Wentworth Golf Club, Surrey.
Undated BBC handout photo of BBC Breakfast presenters past and present celebrating the programme's 25th Anniversary, including (Left to Right) Francis Wilson, Mike Smith and Sue Cook.
BBC Breakfast presenter Natasha Kaplinsky arrives for the UK Gala Premiere of Being Julia at the Apollo West End in central London. The film, based on W. Somerset Maugham's 'Theatre' and directed by Istvan Szabo is hotly tipped for the Academy Awards.
Sally Nugent, Dan Walker and Steph McGovern attending the TRIC Awards 2019 50th Birthday Celebration held at the Grosvenor House Hotel, London.
Steph McGovern (left), Dan Walker and Louise Minchin attending the 2018 TRIC Awards at the Grosvenor House Hotel in London. Photo credit should read: Doug Peters/EMPICS Entertainment
Dan Walker during the Pro-Am at Wentworth Golf Club, Surrey.
Louise Minchin, Dan Walker and Sally Nugent attending the 2017 TRIC Awards, held at the Grosvenor House Hotel, London. Picture date Tuesday March 14, 2017. Picture credit should read Doug Peters/ EMPICS Entertainment
BBC Breakfast presenter Charlie Stayt (centre), Louis Minchin (left) and Naga Munchetty (right)
(left to right) Jim Kriegshauser, nephew of John Kriegshauser, Megan Leo, cousin of airmen George Williams (who both died in the Mi Amigo crash), Tony Foulds, with BBC presenters Charlie Stayt and Steph McGovern as they watch from Endcliffe Park in Sheffield, as warplanes from Britain and the United States stage a flypast tribute to ten US airmen 75 years after the crash that killed them.
Naga Munchetty at The TRIC Awards (Television and Radio Industries Club Awards) at Grosvenor House, Park Lane (Photo by Keith Mayhew / SOPA Images/Sipa USA)

Here is what the 43-year-old had to say about working for the BBC during the pandemic:

When does your day start?

"I get up at 11 minutes past three. I don't know why it's not 10 past three, it probably seems a bit early, 11 minutes past three seems like a I get a bit of a lie in. Last week I sent Louise a text at 3.25am saying 'have you got his piece of information we need for the programme?' I forgot that she doesn't get up until about 3.40am so I woke her up. She wasn't best pleased with that".

You go to bed at?

"This is where Louise and I are very different. When Bill Turnbull left Breakfast after 15 years the one piece of advice he told me, he said I'm sure you'll be alright but the one thing you need to do is manage your sleep, and I've spectacularly ignored him. I've done it for four years, but I just go to bed about 10.30-10.45am. I think Louise goes to bed about nine. So I don't really understand how I function on occasions... I tend to be a bit strange in the head by Wednesday!".

A typical working day looks like?

Dan Walker and Louise Minchin behind the scenes at BBC Breakfast (BBC/PA)

"I tend to read through everything that we need for the programme at home, so I read all of that until about 10 to four. I get to work at about 10 to five and then we have a meeting about five o'clock with Louise and the senior editorial team, which is greatly reduced to what it was pre-virus.

"To give you an idea numbers-wise, we have two shifts, so one shift starts from 9 at night and then you finish at the end of Breakfast at 9 in the morning. And then another shift, we call the day shift, from 9am until 9 that night. The day shift for a normal programme there'd be 25-30 people working in the office. At the moment we've got four or five.

You're doing your own hair and make-up?

Dan Walker shares a picture from behind the scenes at BBC Breakfast (BBC/PA)

"My kids find it hilarious. When I do Football Focus I have to do it at home, just put like a light bit on at home and my kids were coming up the stairs the other day and I'm staring in the mirror at the top of the stairs putting some anti-shine on my forehead thinking 'What has happened?'. It's a good skill to have up your sleeve. The first week I think I looked like an Oompa Loompa on a couple of occasions, but I think it's alright now".

Describe working for the BBC at a time like this

"You realise that whenever things go wrong people do turn to the BBC. I remember vividly the morning of the Manchester bomb, two years ago when again Louise and I were working together, she was down at the scene and I was in the studio. I remember that morning, I think our audience figures were three times what they would normally be. And certainly at the start of the coronavirus people were tuning in in their millions to watch and to know what was going on.

"And obviously you've got lots more people not working, and that's a real sort of, position of responsibility and trust to be in people's homes, particularly that time of the morning when they are having their breakfast or getting ready for home school or sitting with their children, it's quite a responsibility to be in that position and also to bring quite a few days of a mix of very sad and serious news, about death tolls and the spread of the virus and what's happening in other countries.

"What we've really tried to do on Breakfast is to find that nice mix between telling people what is happening and sharing the facts of how this virus is affecting us all but also trying to bring those uplifting, life-changing stories of people who have survived".

What are you looking forward to doing when life gets back to normal?

The BBC Breakfast studio (Dan Walker/PA)

"It's something I just discussed with my kids two days ago. We were out on our sanctioned dog walk for the day and I said right come on, let's all come up with three things we'd love to do once this is all over. And theirs basically, all of them wanted to see their friends.

"All of them wanted a – I know this is bad – massive burger, one wanted some McNuggets. From my own perspective, my three things would be: I'm missing people: I'm missing that interactivity with family and friends; there's only so many zoom quizzes you can do.

"I miss the closeness of life, being able to hug somebody who is sad or upset, or somebody that you love. I think having that absent from life makes you realise how important that is.

"Also I'd just love to go to a cafe or a restaurant and have some nice food, that is something which is hugely undervalued.

"I think what sort of has come through this is our appreciation of the jobs other people do. I vastly appreciate the jobs that teachers do after struggling with home schooling.

"I have an incredible appreciation for make-up artists and those in the hairdressing profession.

"And my admiration – my sister is a nurse in Derby who works currently in an intensive care unit – and my admiration for health care professionals and key workers is just, I mean I've always thought they were amazing but to see the job that she and many others are doing at the moment in really trying circumstances, some of the decisions they are having to make, if one thing comes out of this that the NHS is better looked after, that will be a huge positive".

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