'Wogan wasn't the best, he is the best and will always be the best': Evans
Published 28/09/2016 | 02:30
Chris Evans led the tributes to the late Terry Wogan at a packed service at Westminster Abbey, saying: "He will always be the best."
The unforgettable smooth tones of the broadcaster - who died earlier this year following a battle with cancer - could be heard at the service, which opened with recordings from Terry's archive.
Evans, who inherited millions of Terry's listeners when he took over the BBC Radio 2 breakfast show, told the congregation: "Terry Wogan wasn't the best. He is the best and he will always be the best."
Wogan died at the age of 77 on January 31 this year.
Katie Melua, who made her name with the help of Terry, and Peter Gabriel sang at the moving event, which was attended by Terry's three children and his wife, who he famously described as "the present Lady Wogan".
Actress Joanna Lumley read a new poem, co-written with songwriter Richard Stilgoe, entitled 'For The Former Greatest Living Irishman'.
She compared Limerick-born Wogan's voice to an "aural newly-ripened peach/That never spoke to all, but spoke to each" in the poem, penned especially for the service.
"I think he was the tops, the cat's miaow," she said.
"For pity's sake, who else would you allow/To mutter in your ear each dawn of days/Just rambling on, with nothing on his mind?/A brainy burbling, charming us to shreds/When we should long have risen from our beds."
Lumley, who provided one of Children In Need's most memorable moments when she stripped to her underwear on TV in 1983 in front of host Terry, added: "If he was here I'd kiss his handsome face/And tell him that they simply broke the mould/When he was made."
Terry's children, Alan Wogan, Mark Wogan and Katherine Cripps, paid tribute to their father's "love of our mother, his children and grandchildren", "his true understanding of charity", his "empathy and wisdom", his gentleness and "his love of people".
The biggest names in broadcasting turned out for the event, A Service Of Thanksgiving For The Life And Work Of Sir Terry.
They included Dermot O'Leary, Claudia Winkleman, Fearne Cotton, Tess Daly, Joanna Lumley, Gloria Hunniford, Jimmy Carr, Eamonn Holmes, Ruth Langsford and Jo Whiley.
Other stars at the event included Alan Titchmarsh, Gaby Roslin, Sara Cox, Michael Ball, Rory Bremner, Paul Gambaccini, Judith Chalmers, Vanessa Feltz, Heston Blumenthal, Ryan Tubridy and June Whitfield.
The BBC said it got more than 14,000 applications for tickets from Terry's listeners, with 250 pairs given out.
BBC director-general Tony Hall paid tribute, saying Terry was most proud of his work for Children In Need - he fronted the main appeal show from 1980 to 2014.
He also spoke of the broadcaster's "numerous" and "memorable" Eurovision quips, adding: "My own favourite comes from 2007, when he announced as the coverage began - 'Who knows what hellish future lies ahead?
"Actually I do, I've seen the rehearsals!'"
Eamonn Holmes recalled the last time he interviewed Wogan, saying the veteran broadcaster "had no idea he was ill or verging on being ill then".
The mayor of Limerick, Kieran O'Hanlon, said Terry was a "link between the Irish community and the British community at a time when it was really difficult between our two nations".