Top English Breakfast TV presenter unafraid of being unusual
BBC Breakfast and Football Focus TV presenter Dan Walker has rubbed shoulders with the world's rich and famous while standing firm on his often ridiculed beliefs.
The former host of the BBC Radio 5 Afternoon news and 17-year media veteran says these beliefs were reaffirmed while interviewing big names like Westlife to Kylie Minogue on a popular Key 103 radio sports show.
He was surprised that some of the big name people he had met were so miserable.
They often said things that were never heard or printed: loneliness, addiction, heartache, emptiness to the point of suicide, feeling worthless, or that they had no real friends in the world.
"Many of these 'super-stars' talk about a hole in their life that they cannot fill," Dan says.
"Some try to fill it with drink, drugs, nightclubs, or sex – anything but God."
Dan says the answer is Jesus: "Every one of us has a hole in our life without Jesus Christ."
"Without God our lives are empty... we are going nowhere. Without God it doesn't matter whether we are Justin Timberlake or Madonna: there is no way into heaven."
Dan has hosted Football Focus since 2009, covering soccer matches and interviewing top players and coaches.
On the BBC Sport team he has covered Wimbledon, The Open, and rugby's Six Nations tournament, and covered the 2010 and 2014 Soccer World Cups in South Africa and Brazil.
The BBC Breakfast TV gig is his biggest yet, as he speaks to six million viewers three mornings a week.
In his work Dan has free entry to any English sporting event, but on Sundays no game is big enough for him to skip focusing on God and his family. The BBC has given him this day off each week.
"My Saviour, Jesus Christ, deserves the very best of my time and energy," he explains.
"Knowing the glory of God, enjoying Him and receiving blessing from Him – go hand in hand with the idea of the Sabbath (day of rest)."
After the Key 103 role, Dan worked at ITV Granada in 2004 for six months, then joined the BBC when his ITV boss moved there and wanted him on her team.
As a youngster Dan dreamed of playing soccer professionally until, he says, a "warm and friendly" preacher one Sunday evening "switched on the lights".
"He spoke on the reality of hell, and the importance of knowing Jesus Christ as your personal Saviour," Dan remembers.
"I remember feeling the depth of my sin. I knew that I was offending God with the way I was acting and the life I was living, and the prospect of going to hell terrified me.
"I wanted to be in the presence of God thanks to the saving love of His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ."
Dan talked for hours with his parents, then "went to bed that night a different person. I knew that my sins had been forgiven."
In his first year at university, Dan says, "I'll be honest... I didn't live the Christian life as I should have done." His Bible sat on the shelf for months.
"Thankfully... I met some good people at church, grew as a Christian and the preaching of God's Word had more of an influence on me."
Dan co-hosted a regular university radio show before winning a soccer commentary competition and "much deliberation and prayer" led to the sports show gig with Key 103 radio.
Whatever pressure may come for his trust in the Bible's history of creation Dan will not back down.
"Being a man or women of faith doesn't mean you ignore science and technology," Dan commented to a Twitter follower in November 2015.
"I'm happy to admit my beliefs require a leap of faith," he added, "I just think that yours does too."
When he first decided to "take a stand about Sundays", Dan says "I wasn't sure I was in the right profession. Now I can see that God has clearly guided my steps."
Dan believes that God has placed him where he can talk with many people about his faith in Jesus.
"During interviews I've talked to David Beckham about going to church and Noel Gallagher has asked me why I don't swear," Dan says.
"Everything I have comes from God," he concludes. "I enjoy working hard and want to do my best, but I know that my current position is down to God's goodness and His plan for my life."•