Sir Terry Wogan Has Died Aged 77
He died after a "short but brave battle with cancer", his family confirmed.
Screen and radio veteran Sir Terry Wogan has died aged 77, his family has confirmed.
Wogan was one of the BBC's best-known television and radio presenters, with a career spanning six decades.
He hosted BBC Radio 2's breakfast show, Wake Up To Wogan, from 1993-2009. He raised millions for charity presenting the BBC's annual appeal, Children in Need, and spent 35 years poking fun at the Eurovision Song Contest with his hilarious commentary.
"Sir Terry Wogan died today after a short but brave battle with cancer. He passed away surrounded by his family," a statement released on behalf of the Irish broadcaster's family said.
"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 that "today we've lost a wonderful friend," calling Wogan a "national treasure".
"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," Hall added.
The Radio 2 breakfast show, Wake Up To Wogan, which the presenter hosted from 1993-2009, Hall said "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."
“Sir Terry was a radio legend," Helen Boaden, the director of BBC Radio said.
"For decades, he gave great pleasure to radio listeners with his wit, warmth and inimitable humour," she added. "He was an extraordinary broadcaster but also incredibly good fun, and will be sorely missed."
In November he pulled out of presenting BBC Children in Need for the first time since 1980 due to ill-health.
His final appearance on Radio 2 was presenting his show, Weekend Wogan, on 8 November last year.
Terry Wogan was born Michael Terrance Wogan in Limerick, Ireland on 3 August 1938.
His father owned a grocery shop in Limerick. Wogan attended a deeply religious Jesuit school but said he lost his faith during his teenage years, feeling he had been "brainwashed into believing".
He continued to be outspoken about his distancing from religion. Speaking to The Independent about the idea of the afterlife in 2014, he said it was a concept he had difficulty with.
"When people have a miserable life, as most people did through the Middle Ages, and lots of people do now, I think it's easier to believe that there's going to be a better life ahead," he told the newspaper.
"Whereas, I can't think of a better life than I'm having here."
Wogan married Helen Joyce in 1965. They remained married until his death and had four children and five grandchildren.
A daughter, Vanessa, was born in 1966, but died shortly after her birth due to heart problems.
They went on to have Alan in 1967, Mark in 1970 and Katherine in 1972.
While Terry and Helen were married for more than 50 years, he would refer to her as "the present Mrs Wogan". He joked to The Mirror in 2013, "I call her that to keep her on her toes".
After initially starting work at the Bank of Ireland in Dublin in 1956, Wogan embarked on a career in broadcasting after answering a newspaper advert for a newsreader at Irish broadcaster RTE.
Throughout the 1960s he was a popular presenter on both radio and television for the network, on news and entertainment programmes.
He rose to fame as presenter of Irish quiz-show, Jackpot, before trying his luck with the BBC when the show ceased to air in 1967.
Wogan began presenting for the BBC that year on Radio 1's Midday Spin and Late Night Extra.
In 1969, he made his debut on BBC Radio 2, where he would become a mainstay for the next four decades of his career, after being asked to stand in for Jimmy Young on the mid-morning Light Programme.
Wogan became a regular on Radio 1 and 2 before replacing John Dunn in the presenting slot of BBC Radio 2's Breakfast Show in 1972.
Thanks to his humour and relaxed style of presenting, the show was a huge hit, attracting audiences of up to 7.6 million.
Wogan presented the show until 1984 when he left to focus on television.
But in 1993, he returned to Radio 2 to present the breakfast show, this time named Wake Up To Wogan, staying at its helm until 2009.
He affectionately referred to his listeners as "Terry's Old Geezers" and "Terry's Old Gals," often abbreviating to TOGs, given the older listenership the show attracted. The show's podcast, therefore, was named the "Togcast".
During his time on the show, Wogan became the BBC's highest paid presenter ever, with a salary of £800,000 per year.
When the show finished in 2009, Wogan gave a moving closing speech.
"This is it then, the moment I've been dreading when you and I come to the parting of the ways. The last Wake Up To Wogan," he said tearfully.
"Thank you, thank you for being my friend," he concluded.
The morning slot was taken over by Chris Evans, who remains its presenter.
As a television presenter, Wogan was best known for his eponymous BBC1 chat show, where he interviewed all manner of famous guests, including the Duke of Edinburgh, and George Best.
After starting as a one-off Saturday Night special in 1980, with high profile guests including Larry Hagman, the show progressed to running three nights a week between 1985 and 1992.
An interview with a drunk George Best became one of his most memorable, as was a run-in between novelists Barbara Cartland and Jackie Collins in 1987.
Cartland told Collins, sat alongside her on Wogan's couch, that the sex-filled books Collins wrote were "evil... quite frankly".
"Have you ever wondered about the affect it has on young people?" Cartland asked.
"Yes, they love it," a calm and collected Collins retorted.
The show was eventually dropped by the BBC in 1992. Wogan claimed this was due to the ill-fated BBC soap Eldorado taking its 7pm time-slot, but the BBC said the decision was more due to the fact that a larger number of chat shows now on British television made it increasingly difficult to secure the best guests.
The show briefly returned in 2006 in the guise of Wogan Now and Then, where he would interview old and new guests.
Alongside his chat and radio shows, Wogan presented gameshow, Blankety Blank, and viewer feedback show, Points of View, both for the BBC.
Wogan also presented Children In Need, the BBC's charity appeal for children, from its very first broadcast in 1980.
Wogan entered into the jubilant spirit of the annual show, which raised millions for children's charities through its appeals, whole-heartedly.
In 2012 he performed the dance to popular-at-the-time hit "Gangnam Style" in a bid to whip up donations.
In 2005, Children in Need attracted controversy when it was learned that Wogan was paid to present the show.
"I've never asked for a fee and would quite happily do it for nothing," Wogan said at the time.
A spokesperson for the BBC said the fee was paid by them and had no impact on money raised by the charity. They added that the BBC considered the payment "an honorarium to Sir Terry. We are not ashamed to pay him it and see no reason why it should not continue".
In 2010, Wogan celebrated 30 years as Children in Need's presenter.
He presented every edition of the annual charity appeal before having to pull out at the last minute due to his illness in 2015.
For 35 years, Wogan provided often hilarious commentary for the Eurovision Song Content.
He was known for poking fun at contestants and jokingly protesting when he felt England and Ireland weren't awarded enough points.
"Every year I expect it to be less foolish, and every year it is more so," he once observed.
But that made Wogan love it all the more. "It's supposed to be bad. And the worse it is, the more fun it is," he said of the contest in 1997.
In 2008, fellow Irish presenter Graham Norton took the torch from Terry and continues the commentary very much in the same tongue-in-cheek vain.
Not that Wogan was averse to partaking in a little light-hearted musical performance himself... In 1978 he recorded his own single, The Floral Dance, backed by a brass band.
In 2005, Wogan was awarded a knighthood for his charity and broadcasting work, and became Sir Terry Wogan.
Because Ireland was not a republic when he was born, he was able to use the honourific "Sir," as a dual-citizen of both Britain and Ireland.
As Wogan's death was announced, tributes poured in from the world of entertainment and beyond.
"He made it seem effortless and for a young boy in Ireland he made it seem possible," Norton tweeted. "RIP Sir Terry Wogan".