This article is about the Irish broadcaster. For the Irish footballer of the same name, see Terry Wogan (footballer)
. For other people with the title Sir Terry, see Sir Terry (disambiguation).
Sir Michael Terence Wogan, KBE, DL (born 3 August 1938), or also known as Terry Wogan, is a veteran Irish radio and television broadcaster who holds dual Irish and British citizenship. Wogan has worked for the BBC in the United Kingdom for most of his career. Before he retired from the weekday breakfast programme Wake Up to Wogan on BBC Radio 2 on 18 December 2009, Sir Terry had a regular 8 million listeners, making him the most listened-to radio broadcaster of any European nation. He began his career at Raidió Teilifís Éireann where he presented shows such as Jackpot in the 1960s.
Wogan has been a leading media personality in the UK since the late 1960s and is often referred to as a national treasure. He is perhaps best known in the United Kingdom for his BBC1 chat show Wogan, for his work presenting Children in Need, as the host of Wake Up to Wogan, the original host of the BBC game show Blankety Blank (before being replaced by Les Dawson), a presenter of Come Dancing in the 1970s, and as the BBC's commentator for the Eurovision Song Contest on radio and television from 1971 to 2008. Wogan started a primetime weekend show on Radio 2 from 14 February 2010.
Terry Wogan, the son of a grocery store manager in Limerick City, was educated at the Jesuit school of Crescent College from the age of eight. He experienced a strongly religious upbringing, later commenting that "There were hundreds of churches, all these missions breathing fire and brimstone, telling you how easy it was to sin, how you'd be in hell. We were brainwashed into believing." Despite this, he has often expressed his fondness for the city of his birth, commenting on one occasion that "Limerick never left me, whatever it is, my identity is Limerick."
At the age of 15, after his father was promoted to general manager, Wogan moved to Dublin with his family. While living in Dublin, he attended Crescent College's sister school, Belvedere College. He participated in amateur dramatics and discovered a love of rock music. After graduating from Belvedere in 1956, Wogan had a brief career in the banking profession, joining the Royal Bank of Ireland. He later joined the national broadcaster of Ireland, RTÉ (Raidió Teilifís Éireann) as a newsreader and announcer, after seeing an advert in a newspaper advertising announcer positions. On 16 September 2011, Wogan revealed on the BBC television show Would I Lie To You? that when he worked at RTÉ, he used to burn fellow presenters' scripts as a typical Wogan prank.
On 25 April 1965, Wogan married Helen Joyce, with whom he has three children: Alan (born 1967); Mark (born 1970); and Katherine (born 1972), married to The Hon. Henry Cripps (the eldest son of Michael Cripps, 5th Baron Parmoor). Wogan and his wife Helen currently live in Taplow, south Buckinghamshire, near Maidenhead. The couple have a holiday home in Gascony, south-west France.
Wogan conducted interviews and presented documentary features during his first two years at Raidió Teilifís Éireann, before moving to the light entertainment department as a disc jockey and host of TV quiz and variety shows such as Jackpot, a top rated quiz show on RTÉ in the 1960s. When the show was dropped by RTÉ TV in 1967, Wogan approached the BBC for extra work. He began working for BBC Radio, initially 'down the line' from London, first broadcasting on The Light Progamme on Tuesday 27 September 1966. On the inauguration of BBC Radio 1, he presented the Tuesday edition of Late Night Extra for two years, commuting weekly from Dublin to London. After covering Jimmy Young's mid-morning show throughout July 1969, he was offered a regular afternoon slot from 3 to 5 p.m. This was officially on BBC Radio 1, but lack of funding meant that it was also broadcast on BBC Radio 2.
In April 1972, he took over the breakfast show on BBC Radio 2, swapping places with John Dunn, who briefly hosted the afternoon show. By this time, Radio 1 and Radio 2 had diverged sufficiently to allow separate programming, and Wogan enjoyed unprecedented popularity, achieving audiences of up to 7.6 million. His seemingly ubiquitous presence across the media meant that he frequently became the butt of jokes by comedians of the time, among them The Goodies and The Barron Knights. Wogan was eminently capable of self-parody too, releasing a vocal version of the song "The Floral Dance" during this time, by popular request from listeners who enjoyed hearing him sing over the instrumental hit by the Brighouse and Rastrick Brass Band. His version reached number 21 in the UK Singles Chart. A follow-up single, entitled "Me and the Elephant", and an eponymous album were also released, but did not chart.
In December 1984, Wogan left his breakfast show to pursue a full-time career in television. He was replaced on radio by Ken Bruce, followed shortly afterwards by Derek Jameson and finally Brian Hayes.
Return to radio
In January 1993, he returned to BBC Radio 2 to present the breakfast show, then called Wake Up to Wogan. His tendency to go off on rambling, esoteric tangents, often including banter with his then producer, Paul Walters, seems to have become popular with both younger and older listeners. The show was highly interactive with much of the entertainment coming from letters and emails sent in by listeners (many of whom adopt punning pseudonyms, such as Edina Cloud, Lucy Lastic, Mick Sturbs or Hellen Bach, for the purpose) with an often surrealistic bent. One memorable occasion involved Wogan reading out an email from someone using the name "Tess Tickles", without realising what the name was referring to, prompting Paul Walters' standard reply in such situations – "I only print 'em!"
As his radio show was considered to attract older listeners, Wogan jokingly refers to his fans as "TOGs", standing for Terry's Old Geezers or Terry's Old Gals, whilst "TYGs" are Terry's Young Geezers/Gals who he jokes are forced to listen to him because of their parents' choice of radio station. Wogan is referred to as The Togmeister on his own programme by himself and members of his production team, and he refers to the podcast of his show as a 'togcast' in keeping with the acronyms described above.
There were also running jokes involving Wogan's newsreader colleagues Alan Dedicoat (nicknamed 'Deadly' after the spoonerism 'Deadly Alancoat'), Fran Godfrey and John Marsh (nicknamed 'Boggy'). Marsh once told Wogan on air that his wife was called Janet, and a series of "Janet and John" stories followed, read by Wogan during the breakfast show. These are a pastiche of children's learn-to-read stories but are littered with humorous sexual double-entendres which often led to Wogan and Marsh breaking into uncontrollable laughter. Five CDs, the first with fourteen stories, the second with sixteen, the third with eighteen (two never broadcast), the fourth with eighteen and the fifth with nineteen (one never broadcast), have been sold by listeners in aid of Children in Need, and have raised an enormous amount for the campaign (to date: over £3 million from all sales of related TOG/TYG products). A long-running campaign by Wogan criticising the British government for levying VAT on these CDs eventually led to a government rebate of £200,000.
Another feature of the programme was Wogan's exchanges with “the Totty from Splotty “ – Lynn Bowles, the Welsh traffic reporter from Splott, Cardiff – which often involved reading limericks from listeners cut short after 1 or 2 lines as risqué innuendo in the later lines was telegraphed.
Through his show Wogan is also widely credited with launching the career of singer Katie Melua after he repeatedly played her debut single, "The Closest Thing to Crazy", in late 2003. When she performed on Children in Need in 2005, Wogan jokingly said to Melua, "You owe it all to me, and maybe a little to your own talent". He has, however, made no secret that the credit for discovering her lies with his long time producer, Paul Walters.
In 2005, it was reported that his breakfast show Wake Up to Wogan attracted an audience of eight million. According to figures leaked to British newspapers in April 2006, Wogan was the highest paid BBC radio presenter at that time, with an £800,000 a year salary. In an interview with Britain's Hello magazine in its 30 May 2006 issue, Wogan confirmed this, saying, "The amount they said was true and I don't give a monkey's about people knowing it. Nor do I feel guilty. If you do the maths, factoring in my eight million listeners, I cost the BBC about 2p a fortnight. I think I'm cheap at the price".
On 23 May 2005, Wogan broke strike picket lines to present his show. The strike by BBC staff was a protest over announced job cuts. Reportedly, he gave them a smile and wished them all well. He explained on air that the reason for doing so was that he is contracted to host Wake up to Wogan and hence is not directly employed by the BBC, and so could not legally strike with their employees.
Wogan was forced off air on 16 February 2007 when steam from a nearby gym set off fire alarms. For 15 minutes an emergency tape played non stop music. On returning, Wogan read out several light hearted comments from listeners saying that they thought he had died with his sudden disappearance and the playing of such sentimental music.
On 7 September 2009, Wogan confirmed to his listeners that he would be leaving the breakfast show at the end of the year with Chris Evans taking over. The Times published an ode to Terry: "Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone. Terry Wogan is abandoning his microphone", and novelist Allison Pearson commented: "Heard the one about the Irishman who reminded the British of what they could be at their best? His name was Terry Wogan." Terry Wogan presented his final Radio 2 breakfast show on 18 December 2009.
It was announced that Wogan would return to Radio 2 from 14 February 2010 to host a live weekly two hour Sunday show on Radio 2, featuring live musical performance and guests, between 11.00 am and 1.00pm. The show, titled Weekend Wogan was hosted in front of a live audience in the Radio Theatre at BBC Broadcasting House until the 4th series where he returned to the studio. Some 30,000 people applied for 300 tickets to be in the audience. Wogan's first guests on his new show were the actor Sir Ian McKellen and jazz singers Norah Jones and Jamie Cullum. The programme did feature a house band (Elio Pace).
Children in Need
In 1980, the BBC's charity appeal for children was first broadcast as a telethon called Children In Need, with Wogan presenting alongside Sue Lawley and Esther Rantzen. Wogan has been the presenter of this annual event ever since.
He has campaigned extensively for the charity and often involves himself via auctions on his radio show, or more directly by taking part in well-publicised sponsored activities. The BBC Children In Need 2006 programme trailer featured Wogan in a wrestling ring, supported by various television personalities. His opponent (Ken Bruce) appeared confident in defeating him, until Terry removes his shirt to reveal the physique of a bodybuilder. He has since joked on his BBC Radio 2 programme that the media had got it wrong, and that his head was superimposed on somebody else's body.
He is reported to be the only celebrity paid for his participation in Children in Need, having received a fee every year since 1980 (£9,065 in 2005). Wogan, however, has stated that he would "quite happily do it for nothing" and that he "never asked for a fee". The BBC stated that the fee had "never been negotiated". Wogan's fee has been paid from BBC resources and not from the Children in Need charity fund. There is no record, however, of Wogan ever having repaid his fee from previous years.
His first and only appearance on the popular panel comedy show QI was in the 2008 episode for Children in Need, 'Families'.
In 2008 Sir Terry and Aled Jones released a single "little drummer boy/peace on earth" which got to number three in the UK music charts. This single was part of an album called Bandaged which included songs by various artists and the money raised went to BBC Children in Need. In 2009 Sir Terry and Aled recorded a second Christmas single "Silver Bells" which was also part of the second Bandaged album in aid of BBC Children in Need and can still be found on www.charitygoods.com
Eurovision Song Contest
In 1971 and from 1974 until 1977, and again in 1979, Wogan provided the BBC's radio commentary for the Eurovision Song Contest. He became better known for his television commentary, which he handled first in 1973 and then again in 1978. From 1980 until 2008, he provided the BBC's television commentary every year and became famous for his sardonic and highly cynical comments. He also co-hosted the contest, in 1998 with Ulrika Jonsson, live from Birmingham. From 1977 until 1996 Wogan hosted the UK selection heat each year, returning to the job in 1998 and again from 2003 until 2008. In 1973, 1975 and every year from 1977 until 1984 and once more in 1994, Wogan also presented the UK Eurovision Song Contest Previews on BBC1. He remained until recently an advocate of the contest. He earned a reported £150,000 annually for his work with the contest. His commentating style, which often involved humour at the expense of others, has caused some minor controversy, for example when he referred to the hosts of the 2001 contest in Denmark, Søren Pilmark and Natasja Crone Back, as "Doctor Death and the Tooth Fairy". Although many British viewers find his comments amusing, they are far from being universally liked outside Britain. The Danes were less than appreciative and Wogan now jokes that he is banned from visiting Denmark.
During the presentation of the Dutch televote in the Eurovision Song Contest 2006, Wogan called the Dutch televote presenter, Paul de Leeuw, an "eejit", as de Leeuw started to make ad lib comments, gave his mobile phone number and lengthened the Dutch results. Chris Tarrant later remarked that "Terry Wogan's commentary is why any sane person would choose to watch the Eurovision," referring to his now-infamous acerbity..
During the 2007 BBC show Making Your Mind Up, in which the British public voted to decide their Eurovision entry, Terry Wogan announced, wrongly, that the runner-up Cyndi was the winner. The actual winner was the group Scooch and, according to the BBC, Terry Wogan had been provided with the correct result during the live show. His response to this on his radio show was quite simple, "It's not like anybody died or anything." He also stated that if they'd gone with Cyndi, we'd not have come last.
The Contest in recent years, however, has become notorious for a perceived increase in political voting (an aspect noted for many years). In 2008 the UK's entry, Andy Abraham, came last, much to Wogan's disappointment. Wogan argued that Abraham "..gave, I think, the performance of his life with a song that certainly deserved far more points than it got when you look at the points that Spain got, that Bosnia-Herzegovina got – some really ridiculous songs."
Unknown to the majority of television viewers across Europe, however, Wogan is well-known to many veteran broadcasters across the continent, being seen as a Eurovision Song Contest institution. Indeed, at the 2008 contest he was acknowledged by both hosts, and welcomed personally by name to the show (alongside only two other individuals from the 43 participating broadcasting nations: France's Jean-Paul Gaultier and Finland's 2007 Contest host Jaana Pelkonen).
On 11 August 2008, Wogan said in an interview with national magazine RadioTimes that he was 'very doubtful' about presenting the Eurovision Song Contest for the United Kingdom again, claiming it was "predictable" and "... no longer a music contest". On 5 December 2008 Wogan officially stepped down from the role after 35 years. Graham Norton succeeded Wogan as BBC commentator for the 2009 contest. Norton said during the opening comments "I know, I miss Terry too." 
Wogan's first foray into TV interviewing was with "What's On Wogan?", which ran for one series in 1980 on BBC1, primarily on early Saturday evenings. In 1981, he had a chance to host a one-off chat show, Saturday Live. Among his guests on this show were Larry Hagman, promoting his new film S.O.B., and Frank Hall, who was then the Irish film censor. During the course of the interview, Hall accused Wogan of selling out his Irish heritage and, responding to a question posed by Wogan about his suitability as a film censor, said there was more filth on British television than in film citing the BBC TV serial The Borgias as an example.
Wogan was given his own chat show, Wogan, which after a trial run on a midweek evening, was recommissioned for broadcast on Saturday nights from 1982 to 1984. Between 1985 and 1992, the show became thrice-weekly on early weekday evenings. Notable moments of the series included interviews with a drunk George Best, a silent Chevy Chase, a nervous Anne Bancroft who was so petrified she gave monosyllabic answers and counted to ten before descending the entrance steps to the studio, Ronnie Barker announcing his retirement on the show, and David Icke claiming to be the "Son of God", to whom Wogan famously stated "They're not laughing with you, they're laughing at you."
In 1992, a poll apparently revealed Wogan to be simultaneously the most and the least popular person in Britain, and he was subsequently released from his talk-show contract after pressure from the BBC. He claims that the BBC also wanted his scheduling slot for the ill-fated soap Eldorado. Wogan briefly hosted "Terry Wogan's Friday Night" in 1993, but this series was not recommissioned.
In 2006 Wogan presented Wogan Now and Then, a show where he interviewed guests from his old chat show as well as new guests, and for which he reportedly earnt £30,000 per episode. He claims that presenting the programme was a light relief after so many years on radio. Wogan also designed the set for his new show, allowing him to get a better feel for it. He even claims that the seat he used was designed to support the lower back since he suffers from back complaints.
Other TV work
Although best known for hosting the original Blankety Blank, in 2008, he hosted a gameshow entitled Wogan's Perfect Recall. The programme turned up in an episode of Being Human where Terry could talk to Saul, one of the characters, from inside the television.
In 2010, he guest-hosted the fourth episode of the 24th series of Never Mind the Buzzcocks.
Wogan has published a number of written works, including:
- Banjaxed (October 1979)
- The Day Job (1981)
- Wogan on Wogan (1987)
- Terry Wogan's Bumper Book of TOGs (1995)
- Where Was I?!: The World According to Wogan (2009)
He has also written two autobiographical volumes:
- Is It Me? (September 2000)
- Mustn't Grumble (September 2006)
A diary was also published:
- Wogan's Twelve (October 2007)
In 1981, Wogan set the world record for the longest successful golf putt ever televised, which was 33 yards at the Gleneagles golf course in a pro-celebrity TV programme on the BBC.
Wogan has appeared on Friday Night with Jonathan Ross in 2004, 2006, 2007 and 2009. In an appearance on the BBC programme Top Gear, Wogan managed to become one of the slowest people to go around the test track as the "Star in a Reasonably-Priced Car", a Suzuki Liana. His time of 2:04 was faster only than Richard Whiteley, who lapped in 2:06. Wogan's time has been beaten by Johnny Vegas, who doesn't have a driving licence, and Bosnia war veteran Billy Baxter, who is blind.
Other television programmes he has presented:
Other television programmes:
Wogan also narrated the 1987 BBC television series Stoppit and Tidyup.
Terry has become the host of the annual 'The Oldie of the Year Awards' held at Simpsons-on-the-Strand in London on behalf of The Oldie Magazine.
Was mentioned in the hit "Franz Ferdinand" song "The Dark of the Matinee"
Honours and awards
Wogan was appointed an honorary Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in 1997, and was made an honorary Knight Commander of the same order (KBE) in the Queen's Birthday Honours in 2005. After asserting his right to British citizenship (he retains his Irish citizenship) that year, the knighthood was made substantive on 11 October 2005, allowing him to use the style "Sir". On 29 May 2007 he was made a Deputy Lieutenant of Buckinghamshire.
In 2004, he was awarded a Gold Blue Peter Badge.
On 15 June 2007, his home town of Limerick honoured him with the 'Freedom of the City' at a ceremony in Limerick's Civic Hall. The Freedom of Limerick honour dates from medieval times. Because of his long absence from the city as well as some well remembered, less than flattering remarks about the city in a 1980 interview, the local press carried out a vox pop which resulted in unanimous support for the award. He has since acknowledged the strength of character of the local population who "never give up ... never say die and ... are never beaten." "Limerick never left me" he is quoted as saying and "whatever it is, my identity is Limerick." In 2004, he received an honorary doctorate from the University of Limerick as well as a special lifetime achievement award from his native city.
Sir Terry Wogan was inducted into The Radio Academy Hall of Fame at a gala dinner held in his honour on 10 December 2009.
Radio 2's Ultimate Icon
Wogan was announced as the Ultimate Icon of Radio 2 to commemorate the station's 40th birthday. The shortlist of 16 candidates had been published on the BBC Radio 2 website and the winner was announced live on Radio 2 during Family Favourites with Michael Aspel on 30 September 2007. He praised his fellow nominees, The Beatles, Diana, Princess of Wales and Nelson Mandela during his acceptance speech which was broadcast live on BBC Radio 2, and he chose Nat King Cole's Stardust as his Iconic Song of the last 40 years, which he had chosen twice before as his favourite record on BBC Radio 4's Desert Island Discs.
References in popular culture
As a well-known public figure, Terry Wogan has been referred to on television, in novels, in films, and in music. In the novelisation of the television series Yes, Prime Minister, for example, the fictional Prime Minister, Jim Hacker, discusses having an interview with Wogan. To his suggestion that Wogan be given a knighthood to ensure that the interview went well, his Private Secretary replied "Sir Terence Wogan? I hardly think so, Prime Minister."
Wogan is referred to in the song "The Dark of the Matinée" by Scottish indie rockers Franz Ferdinand. The relevant line goes "So I'm on BBC2 now telling Terry Wogan how I made it and / What I made isn't clear now, but his deference is and his laughter is / My words and smile are so easy now...Yes it's easy now. Yes it's easy now!". When Franz Ferdinand played a show in Limerick in 2009, one Irish reviewer wondered if the band had made the connection between lyric and city.
The British 2 Tone band Madness recorded a jingle for Wogan's show in 1982, which is included in the box set The Business - the Definitive Singles Collection. Track 9 of disk 2 is the "Terry Wogan Jingle" lasting 25 seconds in which the group sing the line "Ter-ry Wo-gan is a blankety blankety blank" to the tune of their hit single "Our House".
In 1989 Wogan was the subject of a single by the novelty music group A Tribe of Toffs, "Terry Wogan's on T.V. (Again!)".
Wogan is also referred to in 'The Hitcher' episode of the British comedy series, The Mighty Boosh. He appears briefly in the 'Celebrity Vicar' episode of The Vicar of Dibley, another Britcom, when Rev. Geraldine Granger (Dawn French), is interviewed on Wogan's radio programme, Pause for Thought. In March 2008, he had a voice only cameo as himself in the seventh episode of Ashes to Ashes, set in October 1981.
As someone whose career was principally based in the United Kingdom, Wogan was relatively unknown in the United States until the release of the 1991 film, The Commitments, in which Jimmy Rabitte repeatedly does mock interviews with "Terry". Wogan is also referred to in the Willy Russell play "One for the Road". In this, the characters play a game called "The Wogan Game" in which they act out interviews from the show, pretending to be Wogan.
Terry Wogan has also appeared in the lyrics of Ireland's Eurovision Song Contest 2008 entry, "Irelande Douze Pointe". In it, Dustin the Turkey sings "Drag acts and bad acts and Terry Wogan’s wig..."
A goblin named The Wogun appears in the webcomic Scary Go Round storyline "Crock o' Gold" as a radio/TV talk show host and general charlatan.
In August 2008 the Wolverhampton-based 'Party Band' "Rang-A-Tang" released a single entitled "Very Terry Wogan", which has been played on-air by Wogan himself.
Charlie Brooker's show How TV Ruined Your Life features in episode 6 a member of the public being tricked into thinking that in the 80's there was a cartoon show called WO-GAN, featuring Terry Wogan's chat show in an animated science-fiction format.
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- ^ Honorary Doctorate Recipients University of Limerick
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- ^ Scary Go Round :: Monday-Friday Comic by John Allison
- ^ Very Terry tune gets radio airing Express and Star