I woke this morning to news of yet another sad 2016 celebrity death. Jesus, but this year has been rough on our collected talent so far. David Bowie, Alan Rickman and now Terry Wogan. Each different, each using their talents to make lots of people very happy.
Terry Wogan was a fixture of my childhood, both on TV presenting Blankety Blank and his own chat show and then later, providing acerbic commentary on the madness that is the Eurovision Song Contest.
It was the latter, I suppose, that left the strongest impression on me. He punctured puffed up egos, mocked hair and costume choices and shared laughs with all of us who were similarly wondering what the hell was going on. As the acts became more and more outrageous (and frankly terrible), Terry’s commentary became the star attraction for many. And let’s not forget the voting!
“Who knows what hellish future lies ahead? … Actually, I do. I’ve seen the rehearsals,” – opening remark for the 2007 show in Finland.
His approach made it possible for the very talented Graham Norton to pick up his mantel and poke fun at the contest and its idiosyncrasies. I’ve watched Eurovision shows in other countries and believe me, commentators across Europe wish they had Terry’s patter.
Terry’s show on BBC Radio 2 took a similar approach. Music he enjoyed listening to, combined with humour and laughs contributed by an audience who clearly loved what he was doing.
It’s very hard to capture simply exactly what it was that made him special, but his self-effacing humour, his inability to take any TV or radio event seriously and that voice…a combination of talent and accessibility to the audience. There was a magic there and he’ll be missed.