Louise Minchin co-presents her final BBC Breakfast

Dan Walker and Louise Minchin

Celebrities, sport stars and former BBC colleagues have paid tribute to TV star Louise Minchin as she co-presented her last BBC Breakfast show on BBC One.

Her co-host Dan Walker said she had been “a fierce campaigner, a brilliant journalist and a really good friend” over her 20 years on the programme.

Minchin was surprised by a crowd of colleagues wearing masks of her face before her final sign-off on Wednesday.

She thanked the viewers for making her “feel welcome in your home and hearts”.

Earlier she revealed her BBC pass had not worked as she arrived for her final day at the corporation’s Salford studios.

Dan Walker and Louise Minchin

Minchin was applauded into the newsroom as she began her last shift, which included a surprise appearance from Judge Robert Rinder.

Rinder described her as a “resilient and powerful bad-ass” who had become “part of the tapestry of people’s lives”.

The pair took part in a Sport Relief trek across the Namibian desert last year and later reunited to run a virtual London marathon.

Michael Ball, Dame Darcey Bussell and actor Stephen Graham were among other stars to pay tribute during a montage of her career highlights.

Dame Sarah Storey, Rebecca Adlington and Adam Peaty were among the sports personalities to send equally appreciative messages.

BBC Breakfast hosts past and present, among them Naga Munchetty and Bill Turnbull, also had warm words for their colleague.

Charlie Stayt said it “has always been an absolute joy doing BBC Breakfast with you”, while Munchetty described Minchin as “brilliant”, adding: “And I think you’re going to carry on being brilliant away from here.”

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”.

Louise Minchin's farewell cake

Turnbull, who departed BBC Breakfast himself in 2016, said she was “a warm and sunny person who’ll always be my friend”.

Minchin battled with tears throughout her final programme but retained her composure during her farewell address.

She said the show’s viewers had been “at the heart of everything we do” as she prepared to “leap off this sofa into the great unknown”.

“Goodbye, have a great day and I’ll see you somewhere on the other side,” she said from a makeshift open-air studio outside the BBC’s buildings in Salford.

She had earlier posted a final “sofa selfie” with Walker on Twitter in which thanked her followers “for all your love, support and messages”.

Good morning and thank you for all your love support and messages xxxx last #sofaselfie #BBCBreakfast pic.twitter.com/YebfU2K4QE

— Louise Minchin (@louiseminchin) September 15, 2021

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites.View original tweet on Twitter

Minchin first presented the BBC One morning programme in 2001 and became one of its lead presenters in 2012 when production moved to Salford.

During her tenure she has covered major global news stories including the last three general elections, Brexit and the Covid-19 pandemic.

In an interview with the Daily Mirror this week, the presenter said her decision to leave had been “a long time in coming”.

She said she was looking forward to having “shared experiences” with her husband David and their daughters Mia and Scarlett.

“I find the early morning really difficult and another winter of the dark mornings was not what I wanted to do anymore,” she told the paper.

She also revealed that taking time off in December to have an ankle operation had made her appreciate “family stuff” she had previously missed out on.

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