Veteran BBC Radio 2 DJ told he could 'die at any moment' following four-year health battle

Johnnie Walker

Johnnie Walker was diagnosed with a terminal illness in 2020

BBC
Lauren Williams

By Lauren Williams


Published: 12/06/2024

- 18:07

Johnnie Walker currently hosts Sounds of the 70s and The Radio 2 Rock Show

Veteran BBC Radio 2 DJ Johnnie Walker recently opened up about his terminal illness and admitted he was advised by doctors that he could "die at any moment".

In 2019, Walker underwent a triple heart bypass after suffering a heart attack, before his Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis diagnosis a year later, leaving him with an inflation on the lungs.


Since his health struggles, Walker has been presenting his radio shows from his home in Dorset and needs round-the-clock care, being looked after full-time, by his wife, Tiggy.

Walker and his wife have been open about his diagnosis and recently spoke about the struggles on their BBC Sounds podcast, Walker and Walker: Johnnie and Tiggy, in honour of Carers Week.

In the special episode, Walker admitted to having “only a finite amount of time left here in the physical before I pass over”, calling it “a very reflective time for us”.

Walker was also diagnosed with cancer shortly after their marriage in 2006 and told his wife on the show: "Here we are at the end of my life when you’re having to care for me all over again.”

Johnnie Walker

Johnnie joined the BBC in 1969

BBC

"You definitely saved my life when I went through cancer. I’m positive I wouldn’t have made it without you. Your love was just so sustaining, it gave me so much to look forward to. And your caring for me now makes my life so much better."

Tiggy admitted that she required help in "grieving" the life they had together, and added: "It’s only by going to the doctors and going on antidepressants that I have kept going because I was crying every single day and I was overwhelmed."

She recalled how they were told by a consultant that Walker should "prepare to go at any moment", before adding: "Equally, you might be around for six months."

The 63-year-old added that she "internally thought, 'Oh my goodness, how can I keep up this level of caring for six months?' Because it’s just about my own energy. Caring is hard".

Johnnie Walker

Johnnie has been told that he could "die at any moment"

ITV

Praising his wife, Walker added she "very lovingly helps me get into bed and gives me a nice kiss good night, and then she has to wonder whether I’m still going to be alive in the morning, which must be pretty hard for her".

Walker knows how hard his wife's life is as a carer, as the roles were reversed in 2013 when she was diagnosed with breast cancer.

She previously told the Daily Express: "The idea of chemotherapy simply horrified me because I’d seen how it devastated Johnnie. For nine months after his diagnosis with non-Hodgkin lymphoma I was needed 100 per cent.

"Being a carer is far harder than being a cancer patient because you have to stay strong but you’re so incredibly isolated."

Johnny Walker and wife Tiggy

Johnnie is cared for around the clock by his wife Tiggy

INSTAGRAM

Walker worked at Radio 1 from 1969 until 1976, when he had a dispute with his managers after describing successful group The Bay City Rollers as “musical garbage”.

He left the station for 11 years before returning to host his Saturday afternoon show The Stereo Sequence.

You may like

{% if context.post.roar_specific_data and context.post.roar_specific_data.affiliate_post %} {% elif %} {% endfor %}