Terry Wogan: You Ask The Questions

So, Terry Wogan, what makes your radio breakfast show the most popular in Britain? And which of your guests have you most wanted to throttle?

Terry Wogan was born in 1938 in Limerick and attended a local Jesuit school, Crescent College. After a brief career in banking, he moved into broadcasting as a newsreader. His first regular BBC radio show was
Midday Spin. In 1972, he took over the Radio 2 morning show. His television credits include
Wogan, which he presented three times a week for seven years, and the BBC's coverage of the Eurovision Song Contest. In 1993, he rejoined Radio 2 to present
Wake Up To Wogan. He is married with two sons and a daughter.

Terry Wogan was born in 1938 in Limerick and attended a local Jesuit school, Crescent College. After a brief career in banking, he moved into broadcasting as a newsreader. His first regular BBC radio show was Midday Spin. In 1972, he took over the Radio 2 morning show. His television credits include Wogan, which he presented three times a week for seven years, and the BBC's coverage of the Eurovision Song Contest. In 1993, he rejoined Radio 2 to present Wake Up To Wogan. He is married with two sons and a daughter.

How do you explain the fact that you host the most popular breakfast show in Britain?
Jules O'Connell, Aberdeen

Because I'm the best. The others are all eejits. Also, I've been doing it the longest, and daily broadcasting is all about familiarity and repetition. I think my reign will continue. As long as there are more old people in Britain than young people, I'll be OK.

What is the cultural value of the Eurovision Song Contest? And what has been your favourite song over the years?
Hester Shippey, by e-mail

All I've gained by watching the Eurovision Song Contest over the years is a numbing of the prefrontal lobes. Traditionally, about 10 seconds after the contest has finished every year, I've forgotten every song in it, so I'll have to say that my favourite has been Abba's "Waterloo", as that is the only one I can remember. It used to be that whatever won the Eurovision went on to become an international hit, but not any more. People have more sense than that now. The whole thing has become an astounding, huge, grandiose load of rubbish.

Have you ever been left speechless? If so, what were the circumstances?
Bob Carlyle, Chichester

I'm continually left mumchance. Silence on the radio is very welcome. I've always found the pause probably the most popular part of my programme. The most recent example was when my producer broke wind while the microphone was open during Wake Up To Wogan. There was a lot of laughing for five minutes. I think the public like that. They like a bit of peace.

What music were you listening to when you were 15?
Sue Madeley, London

Elvis Presley, dixieland jazz, Doris Day, Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra - that's what we listened to then. I wonder if young people today can understand the kind of excitement that The Beatles, the Rolling Stones and The Who generated for my generation. I would find it hard to believe.

What is your favourite Terryism?
Pippa Heath, London

"Banjaxed" is the word I brought to this island. I also invented "fight the flab" which I should have a copyrighted because people use it all the time now and I get no credit and, more importantly, no money.

Do you have any grand retirement plans? Would you move back to Ireland? Or is retirement a dirty word in your book?
Bernice Parish, St Albans

I used to work in a bank, the Royal Bank of Ireland, and if I'd have stayed there I would have been retired five years ago, probably a smug man who had married a farmer's daughter. But, since I moved into radio, I don't feel that I've worked for a living so I'm just going to hang on in here until they worm me out. I wouldn't go back to Ireland. It's doing fine without me.

Of all your distinguished guests on Wogan , who did you want to throttle the most?
Leila Thomas, Norwich

HRH Prince Philip, John Malkovich, Vanessa Redgrave, Anne Bancroft, Stewart Granger and Spike Milligan. Prince Philip is a boring old... He came on and he wanted to talk about carriage driving. He didn't understand why no one was interested. I think it was in that interview that he said he didn't understand why more people didn't play polo. And Spike Milligan was always difficult. He was a good friend of mine and, as any of his friends will tell you, Spike could come and go. He was a manic-depressive. If you got him when he was manic, he would drive you mad. I think I preferred him when he was depressed.

I hear you're a voracious reader. What's on your bedside table at the moment?
Chris Flack, by e-mail

I always have PG Wodehouse on my bedside table. And, at the moment, I also have Waugh's Vile Bodies, Rising '44: The Battle for Warsaw by Norman Davies and Simon Schama's Citizens: A Chronicle of the French Revolution. I normally read two books at a time. I like history. I didn't have it taught properly to me when I was at school.

I blame you for the current mania for easy listening. Do you?
Helen Smith, Tunbridge Wells

So shoot me for playing music that only the public likes. If you're 15, I'm sure you like garage and hip-hop, but the vast majority of the country is over 40, and that is why easy listening has become so big recently - people are older. I get a lot of credit for people like Jamie Cullum and Katie Melua - Jamie Cullum played at my daughter's wedding, that's why I'm biased in his favour. But I wouldn't say there was a mania for easy listening. It's a passing fad. There'll be something else along in a minute.

Do you ever feel nostalgic for your days at the Royal Bank of Ireland?
Mike Rutledge, Great Yarmouth

I don't feel nostalgic, but I had a lot of fun there. It wasn't difficult work, and we had a jolly crowd. We used to fire wet sponges at each other across the bank concourse. There was a lot of that going on and a lot of what can only be described as surreptitious sex down in the vault. It was a more colourful life than working in the radio.

What are the benefits of a Jesuit education?
Norman Tasker, by e-mail

Self-esteem and perhaps a little bit too much self-discipline. I was very good at Latin, although I've forgotten nearly all of it now. I can remember my Gaelic though. It was a butterfly education - I think I could probably win Who Wants To Be A Millionaire. I know a little about a lot. I was very well behaved - never did anything wrong. I was completely bourgeois.

Has it ever been difficult to keep your private life private?
Sarah Warne, Birmingham

No. If you don't go out looking for trouble, it won't come and find you. If you're Posh and Becks, you're going to get crucified. It has got much worse. It's no fun being well known any more. When I get offered a TV series now, I think, "I don't want to do it because I don't want my face all over the papers."

Is there any danger of you appearing on I'm A Celebrity... Get Me Out Of Here! or Celebrity Big Brother?
Owen Vernon, by e-mail

Absolutely none. I hate reality television. It's one of those fads that will die out, but in the meantime it's going to do an awful lot of damage. It's degenerate.

What's the best joke you've ever heard?
Julia Good, Madrid

I only tell jokes if I'm paid a lot of money. But I am able to share this one. A man walks into a bar and says, "What's the quickest way to Dublin?". The barman says, "Are you walking or driving?". He says, "I'm driving." "That's the quickest way," says the barman.

'Wake Up To Wogan' is on Radio 2 weekdays 7.30am-9.30am

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