Sir Terry Wogan, a veteran BBC broadcaster, has died at the age of 77. The journalist’s family made a statement to his employer, BBC News, to confirm Wogan lost a “short but brave bout with cancer,” but he “passed away surrounded by his family.”
Just as importantly, however, Wogan’s family noted, “We understand that he will be missed by many.”
According to U.K. Guardian’s Dennis Barker, the broadcaster’s personality bordered on “self-depreciation” and relied on his ability to “mock inoffensively.”
“[He] was for several decades one of the most popular personalities on both radio and television in Britain,” observed Barker, “in his words, a jobbing broadcaster. Ad-libbing… was something he could do easily. This ease became his trademark.”
Wogan’s career spanned approximately 50 years on radio and television broadcasts in the U.K., including his own Terry Wogan Show (1972-1984), Wake up to Wogan (1993-2009) program, and the Wogan chat show on BBC1. Wogan was also regarded as the voice of Eurovision in the U.K., and was instrumental in the country’s Children in Need appeal since its establishment in 1980.
More importantly than any of those accomplishments, however, The Guardian noted that Wogan was unique in entertainment in that he was never hit by a scandal.
It was his own good nature that once prompted Wogan to tell one of his critics, who had been critical of the broadcaster’s charity efforts, “Don’t contemplate it, chum, do it. Start with your heart, if you can find it.”
In spite of these, and so many other accomplishments, the man regarded by BBC director general Tony Hall as “truly a national treasure” and “wonderful friend” lived a kind of double life.
Wogan had little difficulty separating his public and very much-beloved on-air persona with his equally adored roles as patriarch and family man.
A native of Limerick, Ireland, Terry Wogan leaves behind his beloved wife Helen, to whom he had been married since 1965, as well as three children and five grandchildren. The couple lost a second daughter during her infancy.
Wogan was knighted at Buckingham Palace in 2005 and also leaves behind a legacy that includes hundreds of broadcast memories.
He will also be missed by his personal fanbase of “T.O.G.s,” or “Terry’s Old Geezer’s and Gals.”
“His warmth, wit and geniality,” continued Hall, “meant that for millions he was a part of the family.”
Wogan was welcomed into the BBC family with open arms. BBC Radio 2’s Bob Shennan called Wogan “one of the greatest and most popular radio hosts [Great Britain] has ever heard.” He continued the praise with the following statement.
“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.”
Wogan began his broadcast career as a newsreader and announcer with Ireland’s Radio Eirann, but also spent time as a disc jockey, and TV quiz/variety show host in Ireland prior to joining the BBC in 1972.
Of all the prominent events of his life, few things meant more than the special connection he made with fans. In fact, he may have summed it up best during his final morning broadcast, when he told listeners the following.
“The years together with you have not only been a pleasure but a privilege. You have allowed me to share your lives with you. When you tell me how important I have been in your lives it’s very moving. You have been every bit as important in mine.”
[Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images]