Sunday, 31 January 2016

Sir Terry Wogan...

Goodnight, Terry.

I'm afraid, while I could sympathise with and feel the collective sense of loss that people felt when it came to David Bowie and Alan Rickman, neither of them had an especially deep, personal connection to my own life. Although they were always sort of there, and I was aware of them, and enjoyed their music (in Bowie's case) or performances (with both of them), I didn't exactly grow up with them.

Sir Terry Wogan was different.

When I think of Terry Wogan, I'm back in my Mum and Dad's old kitchen at home. I'm ten years old, sat at the kitchen table, eating my cereal, in my Sellincourt Primary School uniform, getting ready for the day ahead. I'm listening to this gentle Irishman's voice. Warm, good-humoured, witty, helping us all  (all 8 million of his listeners) to wake up in the morning.

I'm hearing him read Janet and John, and while not really understanding why him, everyone else in the studio, and Mum and Dad, are laughing so much, being amused and bemused by their enjoyment and laughter.

I'm sat watching the Eurovision song contest as he gently pokes fun at all of the acts on show.

I'm watching him host the Children In Need telethon, having a laugh and a joke, struggling to cope with and understand some of the newer elements such as texting, tweeting, using Facebook, etc., but carrying on like a trooper.

I'm sitting at the computer, watching old clips of him hosting Children In Need in his heyday, or doing his chat show - his segments interviewing the stars of Doctor Who, past and present (as well as that one brilliant clip of him interviewing Baldrick while Blackadder supervises).

I don't think that it would be unfair to say that Terry Wogan was a bit past his prime by the end. While there was something so lovely about his commitment to Children In Need, which I think said a lot about him, in the last few years I could see him struggling a bit with the trials and tribulations of such live broadcasting, and I didn't consider it to be a great loss last year when he had to give it a miss on that occasion because of ill health (though naturally I didn't wish him to be in ill health). I remember thinking that, despite being a few years his junior, Terry seemed a fair bit more frail and less able to cope with presenting demands towards the end than his peer, Sir Bruce Forsyth, is currently.

But I, as I'm sure so many others will, will remember Sir Terry Wogan in his prime. Whenever they consider that to be, and in whatever medium. Blankety Blank, The Wogan talk show, Children In Need, Eurovision, Radio 2. Everyone has their own special little memories of Terry Wogan.

When I woke up this morning and saw people paying tributes to Wogan, I couldn't believe it. I was in shock. Terry Wogan, gone?

I remember distinctly listening to the last breakfast show link, as it went out. Of course, Wogan would go on to host a live show on Sunday mornings a few months later, but it was never quite as good, or had the same charm, of Wake Up To Wogan.

At the time, watching interviews with people as they heaped praise on Wogan as his time on the breakfast show was coming to an end, and listening to the final show, I got a sense of the enormous love and affection for this man, and I knew I was going to miss his morning show, but I couldn't fully grasp it all, even knowing that he'd been such a big figure in broadcasting for so many decades before. And I wasn't that worried, as I knew I'd still see him on Children In Need.
But now, looking back, thinking about him today, I get it.

When I sat and listened to this last breakfast show link again, I felt this great sense of nostalgia, and loss, knowing that Terry Wogan has passed away, and I burst into tears. I find if difficult to stop crying for very long even now. Every time I listen to the clip, I well up.
If you can bear to, I recommend you listen to this. Over half a decade later, it now feels like an even more fitting goodbye from the man himself, who we all felt we knew in some way, all considered like a friend, an uncle or Granddad, even if we'd never met him face-to-face.

The moment that really gets to me is when Terry says "you, my listener". Doesn't that just sum him up? This man had over 40 years of experience, he had an audience on Wake Up To Wogan of over 8 million people...and yet his last, parting remark, as hiis show always was, was not to address it as if he was talking to millions, not as if he was in front of some huge crowd...

But to one person. An intimate style of speaking just to one person - and yet, he spoke to everyone.

Farewell Terry. Goodnight, Mr Wogan.

“Hang on: there’s 60 million people in the country – what are the other 52 million listening to?” – Terry Wogan, on hearing his radio show audience had passed 8 million....

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