People in the office joke about it now and say, “it’s really hard working with someone who has principles.”
Dan Walker is the new presenter of Football Focus, the BBC’s Saturday lunchtime football show. He is fortunate that the program is aired live on a Saturdays due to his faith. Dan, a devout Christian, is a regular at the Amyand Park Chapel in Twickenham, where he lives with his wife, Sarah and his two daughters.
Walker’s first foray into broadcasting came while he was attending Sheffield University, where he and some friends set up a radio station and he has not looked back since. He has secured jobs at Sheffield’s Hallam FM, Manchester’s Key 103 station, followed by television jobs at ITV and now, the BBC.
His Christian faith means he does not work Sundays. This is an admirable decision that has been ridiculed by many, sneered at by others, and laughed at by the rest. Nonetheless, he is comfortable with the choice he has made. Walker stated, “Over my career I have seen how God has opened so many doors for me and closed others.”
“The fact that I don’t work Sundays annoys some people, some people think I’m an idiot because they believe I am limiting my career by what I am doing, I have had to turn down opportunities because of it. I wouldn’t be the person I am if I started doing it (working Sundays) and if it means that I achieve only 60 per cent of what I could have, I’m happy with that.”
“I’m enjoying the job I’m doing, I work with some fantastic people and it’s a job that I thought I would never get without working on a Sunday, yet somehow I’ve managed to get in here and I think that’s due to God’s providence and how God directs our lives,” believes Walker.
Walker feels his faith has helped him through tough times and has made him the person he is today. He uses it to guide him in his daily life. “People ask how much does my faith influence my work and it does, hugely. As a Christian, I try to glorify God in everything that I do. That’s why I put 100 percent into everything. I want each show to be the best show, not so everybody says you’re brilliant and the show’s brilliant, but I feel that’s the right way to work, to try your best in every situation.”
Walker has been fortunate that the show is aired on a Saturday and he can have his sacred Sundays off. He said with a throaty laugh, “Someone said to me, ‘this is probably one of the only jobs you can do in the BBC and get away with it.’ They might be right because Wimbledon finishes on a Sunday, the Grand Prix is on a Sunday, so is the Six Nations, and the final day of the golf. Having said that, I’ve worked on Wimbledon, as well as on the golf circuit, and the editors have been brilliant with me.”
However, it is not all rosy on the Football Focus sofa, as Walker continues, “It does make my job harder in certain aspects. I’d take the World Cup as an example, usually, the Football Focus presenter goes to the World Cup and does whatever it is out there. I’m not sure whether I’ll go yet because it is unclear how they’ll fit me into the schedule without working Sundays.”
“So, I’m not going to go to them and say, ‘you have to take me, I’m really important,’ because I know again, my choice has made that a more difficult decision for them. So, my position is, I’ll do the best job that I can do, I’ll do it to the best of my ability and if that’s good enough for me to go to the World Cup without working Sundays then great but if not, then I’ll do something else,” Walker explains matter of factly.
Unprompted, Walker explained what he prefers to do on a Sunday, “On a Sunday all I want to do are things with my family and do them a bit differently. I set it aside because I see it as a day, which God has given us not to just do whatever we want, but to act differently. For me, that involves going to church twice on a Sunday,”
Walker continues,“It’s not having the TV on all day, it’s not talking about things that I talk about on the other six days. It’s just about thinking about what really matters, such as spending time with my family, having people around the table for dinner, and talking about things of real importance. Rather than talking about someone who’s 2-0 down and comes back to draw 2-2.”
“I love football, I love sports in general. I love talking about it, I love playing it, I love watching it, but Sunday is a day that is set aside, and if you ask me, what my favourite day of the week is, it would be, Sunday.”
“My first job in local radio was in 1999,” recalls Walker. “And ten years later, I’ve somehow managed to make it here – I don’t know how.” The answer is clear, Walker’s attitude and ability have seen him recognized with countless awards as his career continues to grow from talents to strength.
By Saad Noor
Dan Walker: BBC presenter
Image Courtesy of Number 10’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License