Sunday 18 February 2018

Wogan's way - the biggest sin in his book was to be boring

Terry's rapport with his audience, his humour, his wide knowledge of the world and gentle send-ups, endeared him to millions, writes Brendan Balfe

Terry in the studio. Photo: Maxpix
Terry in the studio. Photo: Maxpix

Brendan Balfe

The demise of Terry Wogan last January, marked not just the passing of a witty, generous and talented man, but also of a style of broadcasting. Terry embodied the concept of public service broadcasting, not as a policy to be adhered to, but as an approach to presenting programmes. His many qualities were recalled at a memorial service to the legendary broadcaster in Westminster Abbey last week.

Terry's good nature and upbringing instilled in him a respect for people, but with a healthy disregard for authority and procedure. As the senior announcer in Radio Eireann, that sometimes entailed pouring water over announcers' heads as they read formal announcements (my head, for instance).

Denis Meehan, the head of the announcing section, and Terry's boss, stressed that if we respect the listener, we must treat them as being intelligent. Denis had written a university treatise on the Irish Fantasists - James Stephens, Flann O'Brien - and Terry was much influenced by them, joining Denis in surreal and impromptu conversations on, perhaps, the recent failure of the Chilean banana crop.

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