Legendary television and radio broadcaster Sir Terry Wogan has died aged 77 from cancer, his family have confirmed.
“Sir Terry Wogan died today after a short but brave battle with cancer,” a statement read. “He passed away surrounded by his family. While we understand he will be missed by many, the family ask that their privacy is respected at this time.”
BBC director-general Tony Hall said, “Terry truly was a national treasure.
“Today we’ve lost a wonderful friend,” Hall added. “He was a lovely, lovely man and our thoughts are with his wife and family. For 50 years Sir Terry graced our screens and airwaves. His warmth, wit and geniality meant that for millions he was a part of the family. Wake Up To Wogan was for millions of Radio 2 listeners the very best way to start the day.
“For decades, he’s been such a huge part of the BBC on television and radio and leaves so many wonderful memories. At the centre of Children in Need since its beginning, he raised hundreds of millions of pounds and changed so many lives for the better. He leaves a remarkable legacy.”
Wogan’s broadcasting career spanned more than 50 years, from the Eurovision Song Contest to Children in Need through to his regular BBC Radio 2 shows and television chat show Wogan, which ran for a decade on BBC1.
BBC Radio 2 will be paying tribute to one of the station’s best-loved broadcasters throughout Sunday.
Wogan first earned a regular BBC radio broadcasting slot in 1969, before in 1972 taking over the Radio 2 breakfast show.
His longstanding association with the Eurovision Song Contest began in 1971 when he covered the event for BBC radio. In 1973 he presented the European extravaganza on television for the first time, and from 1980-2008 was a permanent, wry fixture of the contest for millions in Britain.
Children in Need too will always be associated with Wogan. The broadcaster continued to present the charity gala long after officially ‘retiring’ from broadcasting, holding the show together for up to seven hours at a stretch.
He was a staunch defender of the BBC, “the greatest broadcaster the world has ever seen” as he put it last year: “The BBC is the broadcasting organisation upon which all others are judged and can be judged and, as I say, it would be a great shame if it’s diminished.”
Radio 2 controller Bob Shennan paid tribute to the veteran broadcaster, calling him “an essential and much-loved part of our lives”. His last broadcast for the station was on Sunday 8th November last year.
“As the host of Wake Up To Wogan, Terry established himself as one of the greatest and most popular Radio hosts this country has ever heard,” Shennan said. “We were brightened by his wonderful personality and charm as he woke us up every weekday morning, becoming an essential and much-loved part of our lives. His millions of listeners adored him, as did his whole Radio 2 family. We will miss him enormously and our thoughts at this very sad time are with Helen and all the family.”
Acting director of television Mark Linsey said he was “part of the fabric of BBC television”, from Eurovision and Children in Need to Blankety Blank and his long-running chat show Wogan. “We will remember him with warmth, affection and admiration, and our thoughts are with his family,” he added.
Terry Wogan’s first appearance in Radio Times
Wogan’s name first appeared in Radio Times in the radio listings for Tuesday 27th September 1966. He presented Midday Spin at 12:15pm on The Light Programme (the BBC’s forerunner to Radio 2). Click the image below to see the page full size.
Later issues would include the billing, “Terry Wogan with his kind of music from Dublin”.
The first time his picture was featured in the magazine was in the issue published 4th April 1968, as part of the line-up for the BBC’s ‘Ten Till Midnight’ slot.
“Below are the faces that go with the friendly voices you hear in the late hours on Radio 1 and 2,” the promo read. “These are not just programmes of popular music — though there’s plenty of that. There’s a great deal more besides.
“Roving reporters report; show business people pop in for a chat; there’s a mystery voice competition; there are regular news bulletins and road and traffic reports. And linking it all together with smooth unruffled charm, as they would be the first to admit, are your genial hosts themselves.”
“Smooth unruffled charm” – catches Wogan perfectly don’t you think?