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Daily Mirror
Daily Mirror
Mark Jefferies

Dan Walker's horror near-death bike crash gave him 'new perspective on living life'

It could have been a crash landing joining channel Five from the safety of the BBC Breakfast sofa and 13 years of hosting other shows for the corporation.

But, aside from an actual bike acciden t in February on his way to work, things have gone rather smoothly for Dan Walker. Even the crash gave him some new perspective on life with his family in Sheffield.

A year on from his debut fronting the 5 News at 5, ratings are up 30% and Dan says: "It has been an eventful year. We've had some big interviews and so many people ask me about the bike crash.

"It's probably the shock of seeing my face, it was quite badly damaged, wasn't it? I remember lying on the tarmac and coming round after 20 minutes or so, and I saw the faces of the two ambulance guys and the police officer. And I remember the first thing I did was I shook my arms, shook my legs, and I sort of moved my back, and thought, 'It hurts a bit and it aches and I can feel sort of blood in my mouth, I can feel wetness in my mouth, but I don't think I've broken anything'.

Dan miraculously escaped with cuts and bruises after the horror crash (danwalker/Instagram)
He said he was 'glad to be alive' (Dan Walker - Twitter)

"And then in the days after that, I think you do have a bit of self-reflection and you do think about your priorities and things you've said or things you haven't said and things you want to do.

"And when you're told you're 50 centimetres away from having your head run over and you think, okay, there's a time to reset and take stock and think about what you want to do.

"I had my head and back scanned, went through a concussion protocol and was back at work within a fortnight and back on a bike a week after that.

"The first roundabout I came to was a bit hairy, but I don’t even think about it now. I am really thankful I was wearing a helmet, thankful I didn’t break anything and thankful that I’m still around.

Dan shared bloody photos on social media to keep his followers updated (danwalker/Instagram)
He said the crash has given him a new perspective (danwalker/Instagram)

"So I think that is quite a big thing to go through and then come out the other side of and get back on a bike and enjoy it again. That's where I'm at."

Father-of-three Dan, who married wife Sarah in 2001, was persuaded to join the channel by the Director of Programmes Ben Frow, who also set him the target of boosting ratings for the 5pm news show by 20 percent. Grinning, Dan tells me in April the numbers were up 30 percent and he thinks that is down to making the show "really conversational, very distinctive" and with "a real identity to it".

This is all great, but surely after being at the BBC so long he must miss working there, a place where he fronted huge shows like Football Focus and even appeared on Strictly Come Dancing.

"I miss the people, but I don't miss the BBC," says Dan.

Dan left BBC Breakfast last year (BBC)

"I did all the things that I'd ever dreamed of doing. I had my own football programme. I had my own radio show. I was a host on Breakfast. I did quiz shows. I did Strictly. I did Match of the Day. I did all the things that I would ever dream of as a kid.

"And then Channel 5 came along and said, 'Hey, we quite like you. We think you're really good. Would you like to come here and have a new challenge, and you can make the news and do loads of fun telly?' I was like, 'Okay, let's do that'. I felt settled within 24 hours, really. Genuinely.

"I still love the BBC. I watch it and I'm still a passionate defender of what it does. And I think a media landscape without the BBC would be much bleeker. Do things need to change about the BBC? Yes. Do they need to be a bit more up to date in the way they do things? Probably.

But it's stitched into the fabric of this country. And if you were creating it from scratch, you probably wouldn't create it as it is now, but there are so many brilliant programs that it does. I've always been a viewer, and it's nice to just be a viewer who has no attachment to it now, other than the people that I know that work there."

One person Dan used to work closely with was Gary Lineker. In April, the Match Of The Day host was suspended over an impartiality row about comments he made criticising the government's new asylum policy. The story broke whilst Dan was on air and he found himself reading out texts from Gary from his phone to stay ahead of the pack on what the latest news was.

Lineker was eventually reinstated following a backlash from fellow BBC staff and viewers, a decision Dan agrees with.

"I know Gary well, and I've always thought that the audience is clever enough to see the difference between the guy who sits on Match of the Day and the opinions that he has on social media. And I think if you feel that you can't watch Match of the Day because you disagree with his political stance, I think that says a lot more about you than it does about him.

"And I'm glad they sorted it out, because it needed to be sorted out. I think often in these situations, you get a big overreaction to a story, it becomes much bigger than it should have been in the first place. And you think, "Why didn't you just deal with it like this before it snowballed into this?"

Dan is now at the helm of Channel Five's primetime news show (Press Enquiries: NOTE: Paramount images are for the use of Press outlets only. Any blogs requesting access to these images are required to seek approval from Paramount directly. Contact While we will continue to send out the weekly PI booklet every Friday, we have now launched the ViacomCBS Media Hub. This is an all-encompassing press centre where you can find the latest PI, press releases and other relevant information.)

It was a weird sort of 48 hours wasn't it? But in the end, I think they got to the right decision.

I think Gary never had a news contract and he always said that. And there is a difference there. "Everybody in presenting has those conversations with their bosses at some stage about where that line is and trying not to cross it. But I think that his line in the sand is very different to somebody like Huw Edwards, because Huw's impartiality is sort of ingrained in the news, or it should be anyway, and I think Gary's a sports presenter and it's different."

Aside from the news, Dan has also had success front an hour long special interview with the husband of Nicola Bulley,

After this the channel followed up with a series called Vanished, which Dan fronted, trying to find missing people. The series was a success and will be back later this year.

From this week Dan's also working on a new show with friend Helen Skelton.

Dan and Helen have been friends for years (James Veysey/REX/Shutterstock)
They're now working together on a new show (John Peters)

Dan & Helen’s Pennine Adventure will see the pair explore Britain’s oldest and most iconic hiking trail, The Pennine Way.

But for the most part the coming year will see him continue to work on news, and Dan hopes people will continue to watch his show and other mainstream shows to get their information. He doesn't name names, but in a clear dig at some streaming news channels that have popped up in recent years, Dan ends the interview and says: "I see the way some news is done at the minute and it's a bit more in an American style. And I think we just need to be really upfront about it. For me, impartiality and trust and integrity are always at the centre of what we do, and I think that's really important.

"I've got elderly parents, sometimes I would speak to my mum and she's like, 'Oh, have you seen this?' Okay, but where's that come from, and what's the reason that it's been written in that way or presented in that way? I think we've just got to be very careful about the place that we news from. Not in a sort of authoritarian way anything, but just be aware of where your news comes from and don't listen to the noise sometimes that tells you that you can't trust the mainstream media."

  • 5 News at 5 airs on weekdays on Channel 5

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