Terry Wogan’s unseen 1965 rejection letter from David Attenborough – and Sir David’s reaction 50 years on

The then-BBC2 controller passed on the young Irish broadcaster. Radio Times has the original letters - and spoke to Sir David just recently...

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Way back in August 1965, the broadcasting world was a different place. Doctor Who was just a year old.

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Tomorrow’s World had been on air just a month – and TV audiences were yet to fall under the spell of Gerry Anderson’s Thunderbirds…

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And over in Ireland, a young broadcaster named Terry Wogan was trying to get a job on British TV.

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Back in those days, there was no email or internet. So Wogan wrote a letter to BBC2’s controller.

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Who just happened to be Sir David Attenborough!

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Wogan’s argument was a convincing one.

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But Sir David Attenborough – the man who brought us Monty Python’s Flying Circus and BBC2’s snooker coverage – wasn’t convinced.

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“I am afraid that, at the moment, we do not have any vacancies for anyone with your particular talents and experience,” he politely informed 27-year-old Terry.

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Five decades on, Sir David is amazed when Radio Times calls him to remind him of the exchange.

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But it all worked out in the end. With his rejection from BBC2, Terry turned to radio and in 1966 was offered a job presenting a show called Midday Spin on the BBC Light Programme…

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And the rest – as they say – is history…

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Read the full story – including the secret memo that followed – in the new issue of Radio Times, on sale from Tuesday.

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