It is a much-loved part of many people’s mornings and can be seen on our screens 365 days a year.

Today BBC Breakfast celebrates 20 years on air – after beginning life as a merging of breakfast programmes on BBC One and BBC News 24.

During its two decades the show has been fronted by familiar faces such as Jeremy Bowen and Sophie Raworth, and changed home several times.

Most recently it moved from London’s Television Centre up to Salford in 2012.

Presenters Louise Minchin and Dan Walker spill the beans on working on the show and what they envy about fellow hosts Naga Munchetty and Charlie Stayt.

Work in lockdown

Dan: “The job has become a bit more intense. We’re under a lot more scrutiny.

“Some huge stories have happened in the last few years.

“ Brexit followed ­immediately by the general election and followed ­immediately by coronavirus.

“The whole population have been talking about what we’re talking about.”

Our very own Mark Jefferies joins Dan Walker and Louise Minchin

Louise: “One of my r­ecurring work nightmares used to be that our lovely make-up artists were not in when I got in.

“That came to pass. I’m probably a little bit better at it than I used to be. You know what I look like in my normal life. Do I wear anything? No, I don’t wear make-up.”

Hosting show

Dan: “When I started, if you had said to me, ‘You’ll be doing this job in five years,’ I’d have gone, ‘No chance’.

“Football Focus I’ve done for a long time, but that job changes all the time, so it feels very different.

“But mostly I’ve only really been places 18 months, and then I’ve moved on. It’s a great gig, and I love it. And from day one Louise made the job really easy.

“I wouldn’t have done it for as long and enjoyed it for this long without being able to sit next to somebody like her. I’ve learned an awful lot from her.

“My contract is continuing, so I’m not going yet.”

Louise Minchin swears on BBC Breakfast
Jeremy Bowen and Sophie Raworth when the show began in 2000

Louise: “We have an incredibly loyal audience. Many of them will have been with us for that 20 years. So I feel like it’s a big achievement for us, and something that we should celebrate.

“Often people ask, ‘What other job would you like to do?’ Well do you know what? I love this job. Should I make you a promise? I won’t do another 20 years [after doing 19]!”

Asking right questions

Dan: “It’s not our job to shout to the Government and get on their back. It’s our job to ask the right questions at the right time, to ask them why they’re doing things... and you’re not doing that? To be able to speak to, for example, the Health ­Secretary and say: ‘Tell us about testing,’ and to ask him again about testing, and to make sure we try our best to get to the bottom of why they’ve made those ­decisions, it’s a strange sort of privilege, but also quite a big responsibility.”

Tony Blair speaking on BBC Breakfast back in 2004

Louise: “We’re in a unique position to inform the audience. And when we’ve got a government minister on, a lot of it is just about fact-finding.

“What does this mean? What is the evidence behind it? We’ve had a government minister pretty much every day since March 23.

“That is great for the programme, and it’s really great for the audience. Our job, especially when we work for the BBC, is to be impartial.

“So you can ask the questions, and you can ask them three times, and the audience can make the judgments. That’s not for us to make.”

Twitter trolls

Dan: “I am getting better. I just really care about the programme and the people I work with.

“I don’t like it when people have gotten the wrong idea, or accuse Louise or somebody who works on the programme of not doing their job properly or pandering to somebody or not doing their research.

Dan Walker and Louise Minchin have had to deal with Twitter trolls

“Because I see firsthand how hard people work. I see the amount of effort that goes in and the hours people put in, how late they stay here working through the nights to make sure the programme is as good as it can be.

“So when we get accused of ­something sometimes I’ll go back and have a little nibble.

“I think it’s important to defend the programme.”

Naga and Charlie

Louise: “I’d say we’re a tight team, and also, more importantly, we’ve got each other’s back. We’d back each other up. We really would. We work as a unit. I’m envious of Naga’s shoes.”

Naga Munchetty and Mike Bushell on BBC Breakfast throwing a dodgeball

Dan: “Naga has great shoes, doesn’t she? Naga’s shoe cupboard is ­remarkable. I’m very envious of ­Charlie’s hair. Best hair on TV. We’re four very different people. We all come at things from different angles, and we all bring different things to the table. We all know how important the job is.

“The one time we get together is probably the Christmas party. We did some singing a few years ago. Louise is still mentally scarred by it. But we get on really well. We have great respect for each other.”

On early alarms

Dan: “I’ve still got the same four alarms. My first one goes off at 3.11, then 3.14, 3.18 and 3.21. I’ve never got to the third one.

“One thing has changed. I do realise Louise gets more sleep than me because once I woke her up.

“It was about a year ago, and I hadn’t got the briefs through to say who was on the programme.

“I texted Louise about half three and said, ‘Have you got the stuff? Can you send it through to me?’

“She sent back, ‘I was still asleep’. The only time I’ve slept through was when I was working the day before in Manchester really late, so I stayed
in a hotel.

“Louise rang me at 4.45am and said, ‘Are you coming in or what?’.”

Dan Walker backstage on BBC Breakfast

Louise: “Having done this for 19 years, I think: ‘You’d think I’d get used to these hours’. I still find them really hard, but obviously I do get on with these hours because how could I possibly have done it for so long.

“Sometimes when I’m naughty I get up at 3.45am. You do have a very set routine. So I know if Dan’s not here by 5.03am and 30 seconds, something is up. And the same with Charlie as well.

“I came in the other day, and I was like, ‘Where’s Charlie?’ They were like, ‘He’s on his way.’ I was like, ‘Nah. He should be here. We’ve got to call him.’ He was asleep.”

BBC Breakfast celebrates its 20th birthday today and is on BBC One daily from 6am.