Bill Turnbull: BBC Breakfast host opens up on heartbreaking loss ‘I cried myself to sleep’

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Bill Turnbull, 64, debuted his latest venture last month, a new podcast where he speaks to fellow animal loving celebrities about their furry friends and how they’ve impacted their lives. Paws and Claws has allowed him to take his own trips down memory lane and in the latest episode, he recalled the first time he lost his beloved pet dog.

Even at 15 I cried myself to sleep that night because it was such a big deal

Bill Turnbull

In this specific edition, Bill was joined by radio presenter and dog lover Johnny Vaughan, who told him of the tales of his precious Ryder who had to be put down when he was eight-years-old and away at boarding school.

He recalled his mother had sent him a letter detailing the terrible news which left him heartbroken.

But Bill had a bone to pick: “At least she told you that, Johnny!”

The radio host admitted he’s “held it against” his mum ever since, but the BBC Breakfast stalwart had more to his own story.


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“My first dog lived until I was 15, which is amazing,” he said.

He continued to detail a time where he went to Germany for a couple of weeks when he was younger, to learn the language before taking his A-Levels.

But a shock was waiting for him when he arrived home.

“Got back [home], there’s no dog in the bed,” he remembered.

Johnny gave a sympathetic sigh because he knew what was coming next.

“There’s no dog in the bed, she didn’t tell me,” Bill explained his mum’s choice to keep the news from him so as to spare his feelings.

“And the worst thing was, I didn’t ask her!”

His guest seemed a little stumped by what appeared to be a lack of enthusiasm for his pet, until Bill’s next emotional admission.

He continued: “I just noticed the dog was gone and that was it.

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“Even at 15, I cried myself to sleep that night because it was such a big deal.”

Bill went on to note that the first pet you have is likely to be the most important.

“The first dog is maybe the most important dog and you and I have a shared experience because we both went to boarding school,” he said to Johnny.

“I think I missed the dog probably more than anyone or anything else!”


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The host recalled he used to have dreams while he was away from home about being back playing with his dog and waking up upset and disappointed that he was still away.

And that’s probably something all animal lovers can relate to.

Home is where your pet is!

Paws and Claws is available to listen to on Global Radio, Spotify and Apple Podcasts.

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