COVER story Sir Terry Wogan Remembered
As the BBC celebrates the late Terry Wogan’s 50-year career, his radio colleague Jeremy Vine (left) shares his memories of the legendary broadcaster
The accolade ‘national treasure’ may get bandied about too easily nowadays, but in
Sir Terry Wogan’s case, there’s no dispute that it’s more than deserved.
The Limerick-born presenter – who died in January, aged 77, following a short battle with cancer – graced our TV screens and airwaves for 50 years.
During that time, Terry won a loyal legion of fans for the warmth and wry wit he effortlessly brought to programmes including Blankety Blank, The Eurovision Song Contest, Children in Need and his BBC1 chat show, Wogan, as well as his phenomenally popular
BBC Radio 2 weekday breakfast show Wake Up to Wogan.
This week marks the golden anniversary of Terry’s first radio broadcast for BBC station The Light Programme. And to commemorate that, BBC1 is taking a look back at his life and impressive career in a special one-off tribute on Friday.
Sir Terry Wogan Remembered: Fifty Years at the BBC also features memories from his friends, colleagues and peers, including his Eurovision successor Graham Norton and presenters Eamonn Holmes, Dermot O’leary,
Fearne Cotton and Jeremy Vine.
A memorial service of thanksgiving will be held at London’s Westminster Abbey on Tuesday 27 September (the date of that first appearance)
and broadcast live on BBC Radio 2 from 12.00noon to 1.00pm.
It will be bookended by a special edition of The Jeremy Vine Show in which Jeremy will chat to fans and, of course, the beloved TOGS (Terry’s Old Geezers and Gals), the affectionate name Terry gave his older listeners.
Here, in an exclusive interview, Jeremy, 51, tells us how the muchloved icon changed his own life…
‘I was nine years old when I first heard Terry on his breakfast show. I was at the kitchen table, listening to the radio in my parents’ house in Cheam, Surrey, and he was playing Abba’s
‘Somebody once said there are certain people, like Elton John or Bill Clinton, who are so famous that, when you see them, you just stare. Terry was in that category.
‘We have all, particularly anyone around my age, heard him on the radio or seen him on television. So he was almost part of your life before you even met him.
‘I joined Radio 2 when I was
37, and when I first met Terry, he was extremely nice and charming. He went out of his way to make supportive remarks to me and chat about things – BBC management was his favourite topic! He was an absolute sweetheart.
‘I think the secret to Terry’s success was that the person you heard on the radio was the real person. I never saw him cross or impatient or being unpleasant to, or about, anybody. He was genuinely warm.
‘For me, Terry was a wonderful colleague and a wonderful man. He was not just the sound of Radio 2 but also part of the whole spirit of the station. So I was chuffed to be asked to take part in the BBC1 tribute and to host a special edition of my radio show to tie in with the memorial at Westminster Abbey.
‘It’ll be very special because I’ll be listening to it with my listeners.
When Terry died, they were very emotional – it was such a shock and this will give them an outlet to express their love for him.
The nice thing about doing the memorial on the radio is that Terry was all about his listeners – he had an amazing relationship with them.
‘One of my favourite memories of Terry is when I brought my kids, then aged five and seven, into work with me. I took them to see Terry’s show in progress, and told them, “You’re now going to see probably the greatest living broadcaster”.
‘As soon as Terry saw me he began a little bit of patter on air, saying, “I do believe Jeremy Vine has brought his beautiful children in and it’s absolutely wonderful to see them”. I was so touched that he had done this spiel about them – because, to me, he’s one of the alltime greats of radio – that I’ve kept the tape. It was a lovely moment.’
Sir Terry Wogan Remembered Friday / BBC1 / 9.00Pm From a new voice to a seasoned pro, he was at ease in front of a microphone
He was an absolute sweetheart prize possessions: Terry won countless TV Times awards, voted for by readers Sir Terry Wogan remembered is previewed on pages 82-83 Grinning and bearing it with two pudseys for Children in Need