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Radio / Terry Wogan

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"My life has been a happy accident. Anybody who succeeds in anything should count their lucky stars, because that's the biggest element. It's not hard work; it's not necessarily talent."

Sir Michael Terrence Wogan was born in 1938, grew up in Limerick and started out in the media as a continuity announcer for RTE Radio in Dublin. And then he ended up becoming a legend in his own lifetime.

His breakfast show, both on Radio 1 and later Radio 2, achieved listening figures approaching 10% of the entire population of the British Isles. Consistently, five days a week for twenty-seven years, even with a ten-year break in the middle. Also the commentator for the Eurovision Song Contest for well over two decades.

He was also a familiar face on British television during the 1980s and early 1990s, hosting the chat-show Wogan on BBC-1.

His death from cancer was announced on 31 January 2016, to national mourning.


His career contains examples of:

  • Arch-Enemy: The entire Kingdom of Denmark for a few years after he described their Eurovision hosts as "Doctor Death and the Tooth Fairy".
  • Audience Participation: Letters, emails, texts and tweets from listeners were a key part of the show's surreal and occasionally deranged humour.
  • Big Eater: One of the many Running Gags was the amount of food he had delivered to the studio each morning. Or "the decided lack of provender" if they didn't have any food delivered to the studio that day. On occasion they'd have similar foods delivered in a week for occasions such as "Pie Week", where they'd dine on different types of pies all that week. The BBC acknowledged this in 2015 by giving him a dream TV show. Terry and Mason's Great Food Trip saw Wogan travel the length and breadth of Great Britain for two months, in the company of cheerful Cockney taxi driver Mason McQueen, stopping in at least thirty locations, presenting a show from each, and allowed to sample the local delicacies, drinks and provender. To their own satisfaction.
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  • Bottled Heroic Resolve: Four or five litres of it accompanied him into the Eurovision commentary box each year, purchased from the nearest off-license.
  • Conspiracy Theorist:
    • Many of his letters came from listeners expounding bizarre conspiracy theories about things like the dark purpose behind traffic cones or a lighthouse fifty miles inland.
    • David Icke turned from former football player and football commentator into a Conspiracy Theorist, his going to Wogan in the 90s, where he declared himself the "Son of God".
  • Deadpan Snarker
  • Do Well, but Not Perfect: When listeners sent in ideas for a 'TOG test' after suspiciously young people were reported to be sporting TOG stickers on their cars, some of the questions take this nature to reflect TOGs' forgetfulness and living in the past. For example, a question was "Who is the current leader of the Labour Party?" and points were deducted for a (then) correct answer of Tony Blair, but awarded for past examples like Clement Attlee and Harold Wilson.
  • Eccentric Mentor: His semi-coherent, rambling yet still erudite and very funny tangents are the stuff of legend.
  • Knight in Sour Armour: You could make a case for him being both, but either way he didn't have to appear on Children in Need every year, let alone donate all the profits from his tie-in merchandise to it.
  • Medium Awareness: There were jokes about the show's radio medium, such as Terry referring to a blackboard he supposedly had in the studio and telling listeners to read what he had written there today. Fans of course played along, one for example writing in that when he peers into his radio's left speaker he can clearly read every word, but when he looks into the right speaker there is nothing, and is beginning to suspect that his radio is not stereo.
  • Me's a Crowd: A gag in the 1970s involved the idea that there was actually a factory in Limerick stamping out Terry Wogan clones or androids, to explain why he could be in so many places at once on television and radio. A similar joke was used decades later on Harry and Paul about Jeremy Clarkson.
  • The Nicknamer: Had one for all his regular support team, none of whom seemed to mind much despite some of them being rather unflattering.
    • Alan Dedicoat was spoonerised to 'Deadly Alancoat'. Also sometimes called 'the Voice of the Balls' due to doing the voiceovers for the National Lottery.
    • Fran Godfrey was referred to as Frank Godfrey.
    • John Birt, the then Director General of the BBC, became Bert Birt.
    • John Marsh became Jean Marsh. And then at some point he became known as Boggy Two-Sheds instead.
  • N-Word Privileges: He could (and did) do Irish jokes long after they had become verboten for any British-born radio presenter.
  • Promoted Fanboy: Of a sort: after years of commentating on the Eurovision Song Contest and hosting the UK's national selection shows, Wogan himself co-hosted the contest when the UK hosted it in 1998 (and still made time to do his typical snarky commentary).
  • Punny Name: The pseudonyms adopted by his correspondents, mostly of the Incredibly Lame variety. Examples include "Edina Cloud", "Lucy Lastic", " Hellen Bach" and "Tess Tickles", the latter of which he didn't catch onto until it was rather too late. "Mick Sturbs" wrote the Janet and John stories
  • Raised Catholic: Describes himself as being brainwashed as a child but relieved at losing his faith when he was 17.
  • Real-Person Fic: There was a trend in The '90s for listeners to send in home-made 'bodice-ripping sagas' about the Love Dodecahedron between the people on Wogan's show (and the radio in general) such as Fran Godfrey, John Marsh and Alan Dedicoat.
    • The Janet and John stories, written by listener Mick Sturbs are this to John "Boggy" Marsh and his actual wife Janet.
  • Running Gag: Plenty of them.
    • Some of the classics over the years include the obsession with the real, dark purpose behind traffic cones; the man who takes his budgerigar for a walk; a lighthouse fifty miles inlandnote ; the idea that Wogan had a blackboard with him in the studio and encouraged his listeners to 'look' at it through the radio speakers; and most generally of all, the problems and nostalgia associated with being a TOG.
    • Despite having been married to the same woman since 1965 and not being married to anyone else before her, Wogan would usually publicly refer to his wife as "the present Mrs. Wogan".
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute: Averted with Chris Evans on his radio show. On Eurovision, while Graham Norton isn't really that similar, there is the oddly specific fact that they are both deadpan snarkers from the Republic of Ireland incongruously hosting the British coverage of the contest.
  • Theme Parks: One item in The '90s was one listener coining the idea of a TOG-based theme park, "Wrinkly Valley" and others writing in about it. Depending on the Writer, it was either a normal theme park with a stereotypical old-people twist (like mobility scooters on the rollercoaster) or a recreation of a nostalgic ideal of Britain sometime between The '30s and The '50s.


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