Yesterday was the 6th anniversary of Sir Terry Wogan’s passing. That final January day seeing the genial Irishman join a crop of A-list celebrities who’d shuffled from this mortal coil during that inaugural month of 2016.
Tel’s departure to the great broadcasting station in the sky providing evidence the grim reaper wasn’t done with his star-studded January 2016 purge. Consequently, just prior to that month’s denouement the sad news of his passing emanated from the same radio airwaves he’d graced with such aplomb for decades.
The jovial Limerick man’s existential egression augmenting a list of recently passed entertainers, including David Bowie, Alan Rickman and Glenn Fry, who all demised within 4-5 weeks of 2016’s dawning.
I’ve written often of how yours truly thinks of my life events as part of a tapestry. Depicted on this metaphorical tapestry is the rollercoaster of my time on earth. Like everyone, there are some good times, some bad and some indifferent. You could say it’s a bit like my estranged wife Karen’s cooking….. Just without the burnt bits.
Dissimilar to the infinitely more famous Bayeux Tapestry, my arras depicts half a century of GJ Strachan’s life memories, not the events surrounding the Norman Conquests or the Battle of Hastings in 1066. Additionally, unlike the Bayeux Tapestry, on my dosser there’s no depiction of King Harold Godwinson stricken after receiving an arrow in his eye.
Sir Terry Wogan features in several places on my tapestry. His the calming voice a key part of Strachan pre-school breakfasts in the 1970’s. His genial soft Irish brogue somehow making my corn flakes, not to mention a parental rollocking for not doing my homework, a tad easier to palate.
Even on the foulest of winter mornings in Gateshead (in north east of England) the atmosphere was lightened by a soundscape his mischievous humour prior to and during the school bound journey in my dad’s Ford Cortina.
Sir Terry’s affable nature brought brief respite from my regular pubescent low mood at this time. An angst predominantly brought on by a mixture of raging hormones and commencement of Leeds United’s decline during that decade.
I recall the Irishman’s was the voice we heard on a cold January morning in the mid 70’s, when my dad hit black ice on a steep hill segment while descending Dartmouth Avenue – An incident causing the car to skid downhill out of control. Thankfully there wasn’t a car or individual in our path and we came to an abrupt stop after colliding with the opposite kerb.
As my brother and I sat there shaken and dad went to replace his displaced hub cap, a whimsical voice on the car radio told the nation “And now here’s Pilot with their new song January. After this it’ll be ‘Pause for Thought’ with Canon Michael Darcy.”
This voice somehow had a calming almost spiritual affect on my sibling and I. Post bump serenity imparted by a mischievous Limerick lilt. His composed words almost seeming to subliminally tell us “It’s ok lads, it’s just a wee rattle. The main thing is no one’s hurt…….. Oh and don’t worry about not doing your Religious Education homework, Gary. Send it in for Canon Michael Darcy to complete…… He’s nothing better to do until the pubs open at midday.”
Of course Sir Terry wasn’t just famous for his eminently entertaining radio show. He graced TV in various guises, including commentating on the Eurovision Song Contest along with presenting game shows, including Blankety Blank.
I’m not a fan of the Eurovision Song Contest and haven’t watched it since I left my childhood home in the mid 1980’s. I respect that TV audiences of millions around Europe love it, however apart from ABBA’s Waterloo and a few others (which I’m struggling to think of) I’d posit the songs within this dubious clambake are truly awful.
When I did watch it in the 1970’s/80’s, although not enamoured with the music fare on offer, it was worth a watch for Terry Wogan’s whimsical BBC commentary. Witty, barbed and tongue in cheek, his quips entertained me significantly more than any of the musical performances ever managed. His jibes at competitors and show hosts making witnessing the broadcast significantly more bearable viewing for yours truly.
Without Terry Wogan’s commentary, ABBA’s Waterloo and the Riverdance interval act in 1984, the Eurovision Song Contest would be as absent from my aforementioned life tapestry as King Harold and his idiosyncratic eye jewellery.
As host of Blankety Blank, with its double entrendre laden questions, Terry Wogan got the perfect opportunity to air his mischievousness. Its format affording him carte blanche to take a friendly swipe at contestants, celebrity guests and the woeful BBC game show prizes.
I’m not sure if the game show was devised with Sir Terry in mind as the host, but it was a great fit for him and proved one of the more entertaining shows in that genre. The broadcaster’s stock at his peak so high he stood shoulder to shoulder with the top earning presenters.
As such, he deservedly didn’t return home with just a silver plated Blankety Blank cheque book and pen for his mammoth efforts.
It’s impossible to include Sir Terry’s achievements in a blog of between 700-1000 words.
To close this blog, I’ll leave you with the genial Limerick born broadcasters tongue in cheek comment when told his radio show audience had reached 8 million:- “Hang on: there’s 60 million people in the country – what are the other 52 million listening to?”