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Wogan, Terry (1938-)


Main image of Wogan, Terry (1938-)

Behind the cheerful, self-effacing style, Terry Wogan's seemingly effortless dry wit and intimacy with his audience are the result of a carefully honed broadcasting career dating back to the 1960s.

Born in Limerick, Ireland on 3 August, 1938, Wogan was educated by the Jesuits at Crescent College. He first worked in a bank before joining Radio Telefis Eireann (RTE), the Irish national radio and TV service, as a newsreader and interviewer.

In the mid-1960s he got his first work for the BBC as a disc jockey on the radio programme Midday Spin. In 1967 he also became a Radio 1 DJ, presenting Late Night Extra for two years.

Wogan established himself in 1969 after first standing in for, and then taking over from, The Jimmy Young Show, which was broadcast simultaneously on Radio 1 and Radio 2. He soon became a household favourite when he took over the morning show on Radio 2.

This era brought us 'fight the flab' and a curious fascination with American TV soap Dallas (1978-91), which endeared him to his large band of listeners. Such was his popularity that he even had a chart hit in 1978 with his voiceover to 'The Floral Dance' by the Brighouse and Rastrick Brass Band.

Wogan's first television foray began with a weekly show on ATV called Lunchtime With Wogan. Its short life notwithstanding, he still had the clout to host the 1972 Miss World Show (ITV) and the following year made his first appearance as a commentator on BBC1's coverage of the Eurovision Song Contest. While broadcasters in other countries treated the annual kitsch-fest with unwarranted seriousness, Wogan's droll, often sarcastic observations made it compulsive viewing, albeit not always for musical reasons.

Wogan's big onscreen TV break came when he took the helm of the popular celebrity quiz show Blankety Blank (BBC, 1979-84). His easy going rapport and natural charm with the celebrity guests signalled his next career move.

During the 1980s, Wogan made the chat show his own. After an abortive late-night Saturday show called Wogan (BBC, 1982), the title and concept were revived on early evening television between 1985 and 1992. He hosted the live programmes (three new editions a week, a PR agent's dream) with the same ease and spontaneity which had made him so popular on radio. He also hosted the BBC's annual live telethon, Children in Need, from 1983 onwards.

In between his ongoing television career, Wogan returned to Radio 2 in 1993 and picked up the 1994 Sony Radio award for Best Breakfast Programme. In 2003 he teamed up with presenter Gaby Roslin for an ill-fated morning chat-cum-lifestyle show called The Terry and Gaby Show on Five. Other programmes have included the BBC's outtake show Auntie's Bloomers (1991-), The National Lottery Live (1997-), and Points of View (1999-).

Today, Terry Wogan is a national institution, awarded an honorary OBE in 1997, and an honorary knighthood in June 2005.

Eddie Dyja

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