Terry Wogan – In Memoriam
It’s hard to believe looking back at the 70s and 80s that we only had three and then four TV channels and four or five radio stations.
Growing up in the small County Antrim town of Larne back then somehow made the world seem like a bigger place and to hear an Irish voice on the wireless at that time, and on national television in a prime slot was simply astounding.
People from Ireland, North or South just didn’t feature on our heavily anglicised television and radio feeds. Remember, this was still the time of “No dogs, No blacks, No Irish” in the UK. It might seem strange now, but I suggest re-watching the brilliant TV show ‘Life on Mars’ for a clue as to how people from our little Island were being perceived at that time. Sure we had Radio Ulster and local television programming, but they only seemed to feature bad news and bombs going off over the country. Terry Wogan offered something much different and portrayed us as at our best.
One of the founding members of Radio 1, he often shared the airwaves with Radio 2 before taking up residence the breakfast show. Later taking a break from the airwaves to present his TV talk show in the 80s we saw him interview the great, the good, and the sometimes bizarre. Who will ever forget David Ickes’s cringe worthy interview or George Best coming on after sampling too much hospitality in the Green Room? Both the subjects of much playground talk the next day. No matter to Terry though. He carried on conducting himself like the true professional he was.
Blankety Blank cheque book and pen sets became desired mantelpiece ornaments across the UK in the 80s and his banter with the celebrities of the day on the hit show made him an audience favourite and also showed just how amiable and easy going his own personality was as he was often the butt of Kenny Everett’s microphone bending skills.
His true home though was always radio and when he returned to host the breakfast show on Radio 2 he had an audience of millions. No matter how bad your morning was going Terry could always make you laugh with his stories, his excellent playlists and on air banter with his colleagues.
A tireless charity campaigner his work for Children in Need is the stuff of legends as are his Eurovision commentaries. Hands up! I even liked the ‘Floral Dance’.
Terry Wogan was more than a broadcaster. He was an inspiration, an example proving that a small country where peoples’ accents didn’t sound like anything else on air at that time could be something other than racial stereotypes in bad jokes. They could be television presenters, radio broadcasters and more. A generation was influenced by Terry and in many ways he trail blazed a path that others followed.
Thank you Terry for all the great music and memories and proving that this little island wasn’t the cliched Leprechaun filled backwater that some would have had us believe.
Terry Wogan passed away on 31st January 2016 at the age of 77 after a “short but brave” battle with cancer.