Barely a dry eye as Sir Terry Wogan signs off

Did the Queen shed a tear? Because almost every other one of Terry Wogan’s eight million listeners must have blinked a little at 9.30 today, as with a blast of The Party’s Over, Terry Wogan signed off from the Radio 2 breakfast show he first presented in 1972.

As heavy snow brought chaos to the country, it seemed only fitting that Terry’s fans should stay inside, enjoying Wogan’s own brand of inspired broadcasting chaos for the last time.

“There’ll be no senior moments and no blubbing,” Terry promised at the beginning of Wake Up To Wogan, before presiding over an unashamed blub-fest of tear-jerking songs, tributes from fans and favourite in-jokes with his anarchic studio team, newsreader John “Boggy” Marsh , Alan “Deadly” Dedicoat , Chris Nove and Lynn Bowles “The Totty from Splotty”. As usual there were the quirky emails from fans “I’ve just heard you on the radio. I’ll be listening to you every day from now on!” but unusually there were more fulsome tributes.

Those writing in included a Mr G. Brown of Downing Street, who (perhaps a little enviously) admired Terry’s staying power, saying “Five decades at the very top of British broadcasting is a towering, indeed an unparalleled achievement” . A Mr D. Cameron also sent in a tribute, admiring Wogan’s tendency to focus on the positive and suggesting, “It is his ability to see a lighter, sunnier side of life which is why he is so loved.”

But it is the TOGs – Terry’s Old Geezers and Girls – who will miss him the most. The country’s most famous TOGs, the Queen and Prince Philip, who enjoy his breakfast show alongside their Tupperware tableware, had Terry to lunch recently to say a private thankyou. To the TOGs, Terry is more than just a radio presenter. Though Irish, he has become the deadpan voice of Middle England, the gently sardonic lilt that objects in a very British way to too much saccharine, earnestness, or political correctness. His show has been a refuge from the chill wind of current affairs and his quicksilver intelligence is matched with an endearing self-deprecation and an ability to poke fun at those who take themselves too seriously.

In particular, as in his favourite joke of reading out limericks from listeners before collapsing halfway in laughter, (“Boggy stood on the burning deck, Shouting what a farce..”) Wogan has epitomised the British habit of laughing at sex. This came to a head with his Janet And John series, a running joke based on a pastiche of the children’s learn-to-read books, which involved the show’s regulars in sexually risqué episodes, and spawned a best-selling series of CDs. Today’s programme featured a traditionally filthy tale, rigid with double entendres, involving something about bestiality and a golden shower. “If the Prime Minister’s listening to this,” said Wogan, “He’ll want to change his opinion by the next news.”

His decision to retire at the top of his game “while we’re still in love” will not stop Wogan returning in February with a Sunday morning show on Radio 2. But it is Chris Evans who from 11 January will assume the breakfast slot and the awesome task of taking on Terry’s devoted demographic. “This is the day I’ve been dreading,” Wogan, 71, told his TOGs in a tearful farewell. “It’s always been a source of enormous pride to me that you’ve come together in my name, to laugh with and poke fun at and when the world seemed a little too cruel, to shed a tear with. If anybody embodies the generous, warm spirit of this country it’s you, my listeners.” Those people outside, bracing themselves stoically in the street, might not just be awaiting another squall of snow. It might be the thought of next week, without Terry to take the edge off it.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
  • Get to the point
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

Ashdown Group: Web Developer - ASP.NET, C#, MVC - London

£45000 - £55000 per annum + Excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Web Developer -...

Ashdown Group: .NET Developer : ASP.NET , C# , MVC , web development

£40000 - £50000 per annum + Excellent benefits - see advert: Ashdown Group: .N...

Guru Careers: 3D Package Designer / 3D Designer

£25 - 30K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an exceptional 3D Package Designer / 3...

Guru Careers: Interior Designer

£Competitive: Guru Careers: We are seeking a strong Middleweight / Senior Inte...

Day In a Page

The saffron censorship that governs India: Why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression

The saffron censorship that governs India

Zareer Masani reveals why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression
Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Supreme Court rules Dominic Grieve's ministerial veto was invalid
Distressed Zayn Malik fans are cutting themselves - how did fandom get so dark?

How did fandom get so dark?

Grief over Zayn Malik's exit from One Direction seemed amusing until stories of mass 'cutting' emerged. Experts tell Gillian Orr the distress is real, and the girls need support
The galaxy collisions that shed light on unseen parallel Universe

The cosmic collisions that have shed light on unseen parallel Universe

Dark matter study gives scientists insight into mystery of space
The Swedes are adding a gender-neutral pronoun to their dictionary

Swedes introduce gender-neutral pronoun

Why, asks Simon Usborne, must English still struggle awkwardly with the likes of 's/he' and 'they'?
Disney's mega money-making formula: 'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan

Disney's mega money-making formula

'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan
Lobster has gone mainstream with supermarket bargains for £10 or less - but is it any good?

Lobster has gone mainstream

Anthea Gerrie, raised on meaty specimens from the waters around Maine, reveals how to cook up an affordable feast
Easter 2015: 14 best decorations

14 best Easter decorations

Get into the Easter spirit with our pick of accessories, ornaments and tableware
Paul Scholes column: Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season

Paul Scholes column

Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season
Inside the Kansas greenhouses where Monsanto is 'playing God' with the future of the planet

The future of GM

The greenhouses where Monsanto 'plays God' with the future of the planet
Britain's mild winters could be numbered: why global warming is leaving UK chillier

Britain's mild winters could be numbered

Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Donation brings total raised by Homeless Veterans campaign to at least £1.25m
Oh dear, the most borrowed book at Bank of England library doesn't inspire confidence

The most borrowed book at Bank of England library? Oh dear

The book's fifth edition is used for Edexcel exams
Cowslips vs honeysuckle: The hunt for the UK’s favourite wildflower

Cowslips vs honeysuckle

It's the hunt for UK’s favourite wildflower
Child abuse scandal: Did a botched blackmail attempt by South African intelligence help Cyril Smith escape justice?

Did a botched blackmail attempt help Cyril Smith escape justice?

A fresh twist reveals the Liberal MP was targeted by the notorious South African intelligence agency Boss