Last month, Sir Terry Wogan, long-serving and legendary BBC Radio 2 and Children in Need presenter, had passed away at the age of 77. Yet another high-profile death due to cancer this year, Terry Wogan’s death was a sad loss for the millions of fans he accumulated over a career spanning five decades.
The son of a grocery manager, young Terry Wogan first pursued a career in banking before giving it up to become a newsreader. After being turned down for a job at the BBC aged 27 on the grounds that they already had an Irish presenter, his first breakthrough with the BBC came when he provided holiday cover for another broadcaster in 1969. It wasn’t long after that when he was given his own breakfast show, a slot he dutifully and charismatically entertained millions on for the next 27 years.
Aside from all his other achievements, Terry Wogan will be remembered by me, and many others for his outstanding work on BBC Radio 2. Hailed the ‘King of the Airwaves’, it was his natural style that set him apart from so many others. In 2005, audience figures to Wake up to Wogan surpassed eight million; Radio 2 had become the biggest radio station in the country, the start of a new era of which Terry Wogan was the star. In presenter Graham Norton’s words, “he made it seem effortless and for a young boy in Ireland, he made it seem possible.” TV, too, was just another means through which Terry Wogan’s star quality could shine. It was his witty asides on the Eurovision song contest that changed the image of the show; his dry humour made what would otherwise be a several hour cheese-fest watchable, a style continued by Graham Norton today. From his quiz show, Blankety Blank, to his famous interviews on Wogan, Sir Terry always handled himself with a professionalism and humour that made him so accessible to the masses.
For many of our generation, however, Terry Wogan is inseparable from Children in Need, an event he has hosted from its start 35 years ago, and has helped to raise a staggering £600 million pounds for. The most recent show last December was the first he had ever missed.
Pudsey Bear has been reimaged in mourning since Terry Wogan’s sad passing in January, so inseparable is the man from the cause. A renowned family man, Sir Terry’s loved ones believe the veteran broadcaster would be embarrassed by all the attention his death was receiving. His legacy is one to be celebrated. From a Limerick-born boy to a broadcasting legend, Terry Wogan was a national treasure, and it is the happiness he brought that will define his memory in the end.