In what was to be his final major public appearance, Sir Terry Wogan took to the stage at the Cheltenham Literature Festival last October in a special Radio Times event. During an hour-long session to promote his book of short stories, Those Were The Days, the TV veteran delivered the sort of first class entertainment we’d come to expect from his 50-year career in broadcasting.
Sat on stage in front of a large audience, Wogan regaled the crowd with stories from his days on the airwaves and the box, before launching into a passionate defence of the BBC (from 48 minutes in). He stated that the future of “the greatest broadcaster the world has ever seen” was in doubt, before warning: “if this country ever allows it to be diminished, we will regret it.”
But it wasn’t all serious. Sir Terry also joked of his disappointment at not being offered the chance to front Strictly Come Dancing when it relaunched in 2004 – a job that eventually went to Bruce Forsyth and Tess Daly.
“I presented Come Dancing for seven years on the television, traipsing around the country. What thanks did I get for it? After seven years the public was still convinced it was being done by Peter West! When Strictly Come Dancing came up they didn’t give it to me – they gave it to somebody who was about 20 years older than me.”
Sir Terry Wogan: 50 Years at the BBC is on BBC1 at 9pm on Friday 30th September