FELLOW BROADCASTERS, POLITICAL leaders and his legions of fans have been sharing their memories of Terry Wogan, following the much-loved radio and TV host’s death from cancer at the age of 77.
His contemporaries Gay Byrne and Mike Murphy paid tribute to their friend on RTÉ Radio 1 this morning – the latter describing his shock having just heard the news and asking presenter Miriam O’Callaghan how the presenter had died.
“Oh god isn’t that just awful,” Murphy said.
He was so ebullient and so full of life and so full of energy and pizazz and positivity. I always felt Terry would simply just trundle on.
Wogan had had an “incredible command of language,” Murphy said, describing the veteran BBC host as “the most creative presenter I ever heard in my life”.
Byrne said the Limerick-born presenter had a “monster advantage” over his competitors, explaining:
“He was born with a permanently sunny disposition.
He simply was optimistic and he was good natured. He saw the fun in everything. And this is a huge gift to have.
Ryan Tubridy, who filled in for Wogan in his BBC Radio 2 Sunday morning slot in recent years, said the broadcaster had been a huge influence on him growing up, and recalled memories of going to see a recording of his TV chat show during a school trip to London.
Wogan had been an ambassador for Irish people in the UK during the years of the Troubles and throughout the IRA’s bombing campaigns there in the 1970s and 80s, Tubridy said.
“He only talked about it later in life,” the Late Late host told Dave Fanning on 2fm.
People would come up to him from Ireland and say ‘thank God your voice was there representing us’.
RTÉ Director General Noel Curran also made reference to his role as something of an ambassador for the Irish in Britain.
“Terry Wogan was a consummate broadcaster and an ambassador for Irish talent in the UK – particularly during some difficult times in Ireland’s relationship with Britain,” a statement said.
“He is fondly remembered for his early years in RTÉ and still has many friends in the organisation.
“I knew him from meeting him at Eurovision and I found his on-air humour and warmth was always there in person.
He has made a unique contribution to broadcasting in the UK and to the stature of Irish broadcasters internationally.
President Higgins referred to Wogan as “one of the great figures of broadcasting” while in his statement, Taoiseach Enda Kenny said the presenter’s “humour and wit were unparalleled”.
“As an Irishman, Terry Wogan occupied a special place in British listeners’ hearts and he acted in no small way as a bridge between Ireland and Britain.
His always entertaining, and often unforgiving, commentary of the Eurovision Song Contest provided viewers here and in Britain with endless entertainment.
Tánaiste Joan Burton said he “provided inspiration to generations of emigrants” while Limerick Fianna Fáil TD Willie O’Dea said he never forgot his roots and regularly spoke about his home city.
Anglo-Irish national treasure
Paying tribute to his colleague, BBC presenter Jeremy Vine quoted a conversation between Wogan and the Queen, who asked the presenter how long he had worked at the Beeb.
Your Majesty, I’ve never worked here.
BBC director general Tony Hall, echoing the sentiment of others in the UK, described him as a national treasure.
“Today we’ve lost a wonderful friend,” he said.
He was a lovely, lovely man and our thoughts are with his wife and family.