Saturday 24 March 2018

Terry Wogan: The day I was sent a bomb as I broadcast at the BBC

Sir Terry Wogan. Photo: Getty Images
Sir Terry Wogan. Photo: Getty Images

LIMERICK-born broadcaster Terry Wogan has recalled the terrifying moment a bomb arrived at his BBC studio at the height of the Troubles.

He said he was amazed his producer did not get sacked when he bravely removed a letter bomb from the Radio Two breakfast show studio.

Speaking at Cheltenham Literature Festival, Sir Terry recalled how the bomb with his name on it arrived at the studio in 1994 at the height of the Irish troubles.

"A bomb arrived and it was identified by the BBC post room as a bomb," said Terry. "But it was still taken up to the studio by some eejit.

"Paul Walters, my producer, actually picked it up and took it back downstairs again - and was roundly criticised by the BBC. Why he wasn't fired for taking such a risk I don't know.

"This bomb caused a huge traffic jam in all the surrounding area, Regent Street, Oxford Circus, everything closed while the bomb was defused.

"The only thing that slightly worried me was that the person who sent the bomb couldn't have been much of a fan - not only for the obvious reason but because I was on holiday!

"You worry about the competence of some of those people!"

Sir Terry said that as an Irishman he found it difficult to go on broadcasting during the IRA bombing campaign- but the British people were amazingly tolerant to him and he was able to carry on.

"It was very hard for me to broadcast then - not as hard as for the people who died, of course. But it was very hard to come over here during what was euphemistically called the troubles and have a cheerful Irish voice on the radio after innocent English people had been killed in Birmingham.

"I was very conscious of that but I never suffered any discrimination by people.

"English people were very tolerant, I think, of the Irish in their midst.

"But I think most English people already knew Irish people and were friendly with them and they were their neighbours. That tolerance I will always remember this country for."

Sir Terry was speaking to promote his book 'Wogan's Ireland,' which he described as a 'meander, a wander' around his homeland to find out how things have changed since his young days there.

He discovered that almost all the people he had known in Limerick and later in Dublin were still living and working in much the same area and he was one of the few who had left for pastures new, he said.

"When I went back to Limerick it was lovely to see all my old school mates, fellows I left 55 years ago. Now very old men. But they had not changed much. The eejit was still the eejit, the intelligent person was still intelligent and the serious one was still as serious as when he was 15.

"In Dublin, nearly everyone in my school class was living, more or less, in the same district as when I left them,

"There was only one or two of us had taken the migration route - in my case worming my way into the affections of the BBC by buying Jimmy Young cigarettes!"

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