“I’D RATHER LEAVE while we’re in love,” Terry Wogan told his millions of Radio 2 listeners, as he stepped down from his high-profile breakfast slot – prompting tears in kitchens and living rooms all over the country.
The then-71-year-old had been a fixture in households first thing in the morning for decades by the time he decided to quit the BBC show for good, in September of 2009.
He began his first stint in the slot back in 1972 – quitting in 1984 to concentrate on his TV show.
But the Limerick-born presenter returned in 1993, once again building up a hugely loyal listenership thanks to his relaxed manner and frequent surreal ad-libs with producers, guests and newsreaders.
The show had more than eight million listeners when he stepped down for the second time, seven years ago.
His last broadcast in the slot was such a national event, some news outlets even live-blogged the whole thing.
Wogan’s heartfelt sign-off to his fans – or TOGs, as they came to be known – is being widely shared online today, following his death from cancer aged 77.
His words – thanking his legions of dedicated listeners – now serve as a poignant tribute to one of the best-loved broadcasters to grace the airwaves of the UK and Ireland, and the personal connection radio listeners felt they had with him.
Terry’s sign-off, in full…
This is it, then. This is the day I have been dreading – the inevitable morning when you and I come to the parting of the ways, the last Wake Up To Wogan.
It wasn’t always thus. For the first 12 years it was the plain old Terry Wogan Show and you were all Twits, the Terry Wogan is Tops Society.
When I returned to the bosom of our family, it became Wake Up To Wogan and you all became TOGs, Terry’s Old Geezers and Gals.
It’s always been a source of enormous pride to me that you have come together in my name, that you are proud to call yourself my listeners, that you think of me as a friend, someone that you are close enough to laugh with, to poke fun at and occasionally, when the world seemed just a little too cruel, to shed a tear with.
And 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.
We have been through at least a couple of generations together, for many of you – your children, like mine, now have children of their own. And your support for Children In Need has been consistent and magnificent. You’ve baked the bakes, you’ve held the quizzes, you’ve sold the calendars, you’ve packed the CDs and the DVDs. You’ve answered the phones… always there when we’ve called on you, unheralded and unsung.
And if anybody embodies the generous, warm spirit of this country it’s you, my listeners.
I am not going to pretend that this is not a sad day – you can probably hear it in my voice.
I am going to miss the laughter and the fun of our mornings together. I know you are going to welcome Chris Evans with the same generosity of spirit that you have always shown me.
So, I am going to miss you, until we are together again in February, have a happy Christmas.
Thank you, thank you for being my friend.