Media families: 27. The Wogans

Terry Wogan (broadcaster) begat Alan (newsreader/presenter), Mark (TV chef) and Katherine (aspiring thespian)

The Wogans. It could have been a heart-warming story of everyday Irish folk. Instead, it's the tale of a budding TV dynasty with enough ups, downs and tabloid exposes to bring tears to Grandma Walton's eyes.

For years, the word Wogan meant just one thing: the loveable Irish banter of "our Tel" which once filled the airwaves morning, noon and night. Now, after a minor setback in the late Eighties following the axing of his thrice-weekly TV chat show, Terry's back and he has brought reinforcements in the shape of TV presenter sons Alan and Mark and their younger sister, Katherine.

If he'd stuck to his guns, 59-year-old Michael Terence Wogan could have been a bank manager. Instead, the young Irishman who left school at 16 to become a clerk at the Royal Bank of Ireland answered an ad in the Irish Independent for a newsreader with Radio Eireann. With his smooth, rich voice and cheeky twinkle, the 21 year old was a natural. He got the job.

Terry spent the next few years honing his technique before joining the BBC. He had his own Radio 1 show from 1969 to 1972 and then switched to Radio 2 where he hosted the morning show for 11 years from 1973 to 1984. During this time he made a bid for pop stardom with his version of The Floral Dance. Accompanied by the Brighouse and Rastrick brass band, he even made it on to Top of the Pops - much to his children's chagrin.

He was also busy establishing a TV career with a succession of light entertainment shows from Do The Right Thing, Blankety Blank and Come Dancing to the Eurovision Song Contest. All were stamped with Terry's trademark - deadpan delivery of gentle quips and loveable blarney. BBC bosses, heady with the popularity of their Irish star, even granted him his own chat show.

"It was bound to end because only a river runs forever," Terry later admitted. But when Wogan was eventually axed by the BBC he admits he felt hurt. It was the manner of the axing that stung - the suggestion that it was a failure. Terry slipped from public view, taking up Radio 2's breakfast slot in 1993 but otherwise in televisual wilderness unless you count the occasional Auntie's Bloomer.

Meanwhile, his three children were growing up in the family's pounds 2m pile in Buckinghamshire. Katherine, the youngest, recently admitted to deep embarrassment at dad's efforts to do the school run in the family Rolls- Royce (not to mention his Floral Dance). Oldest brother Alan retreated into school work, becoming head boy before taking a degree in psychology and philosophy at Warwick University. Meanwhile, Mark rebelled - prompting tabloid headlines about drug-taking behind the bike shed.

Each left school determined to do anything other than follow in Terry's footsteps. Only after numerous attempts at other careers, such as chauffeuring, did Alan do work experience with Dublin Radio. By the time he was 24 he had a job working as a news reader on Radio 5 Live. Now 29, he works for Financial Times Television presenting hourly business news bulletins broadcast throughout Europe on NBC Super Channel.

Mark, meanwhile, ended his troubled teens with a spate of dead-end jobs - including work as a builder, cocktail barman, steel fitter, Lloyd's of London insurance broker and researcher on Kilroy. Only in his twenties did he discover his true vocation: cooking. Following a course at Pru Leith's School of Food & Wine he landed a 10-part series on cable channel Live TV, Cheat's Cuisine. He then graduated on to the station's late-night sex show. Now aged 27, Mark presents Channel 4's afternoon cookery show, Here's One I Made Earlier.

Twenty-five-year-old Katherine recently graduated from Manchester University and is now working in PR as she attempts to break into acting. She claims few vices as a teenager other than taking up smoking at 15 - a slip she made up for subsequently by becoming head prefect, then head girl. One of her ambitions now is to play Lady Macbeth.

Colleagues describe the Wogans as "close-knit" and "remarkably level- headed". Dad is proud of his brood and eager to help further their media careers although in a recent interview he expressed doubts about whether, in his case, nepotism would have much effect. "In the long run, I think the Wogan name is going to go against them," he remarked.

Maybe. But with TV work once more rolling in and rumoured discussions now under way between Terry and ITV - who knows.

News
peoplePaper attempts to defend itself
Voices
voicesWe desperately need men to be feminists too
Life and Style
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
British actor Idris Elba is also a DJ and rapper who played Ibiza last summer
film
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Account Executive/Sales Consultant – Permanent – Hertfordshire - £16-£20k

£16500 - £20000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: We are currently r...

IT Application Support Engineer - Immediate Start

£28000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Software Application Support Analyst - Imm...

Senior Management Accountant

£40000 - £46000 per annum: Sauce Recruitment: Global publishing and digital bu...

Semi Senior Accountant - Music

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Sauce Recruitment: A successful, Central London bas...

Day In a Page

Secret politics of the weekly shop

The politics of the weekly shop

New app reveals political leanings of food companies
Beam me up, Scottie!

Beam me up, Scottie!

Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

Beware Wet Paint

The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
Sanctuary for the suicidal

Sanctuary for the suicidal

One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits