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Sir Terry Wogan's colleagues hail 'radio genius'

Published 31/01/2016

Sir Terry Wogan as he announced he was stepping down from his BBC Radio 2 breakfast show, he told listeners of the long-running and much-loved Wake Up to Wogan' that he would be stepping down at the end of the year to be replaced by Chris Evans.
Sir Terry Wogan as he announced he was stepping down from his BBC Radio 2 breakfast show, he told listeners of the long-running and much-loved Wake Up to Wogan' that he would be stepping down at the end of the year to be replaced by Chris Evans.
Sir Terry Wogan (second left on middle row) in 1967 with fellow disc jockeys ahead of the launch of the BBC's new Radio 1 and Radio 2 networks at Broadcasting House, London
Wogan presenting Blankety Blank in 1979
Sir Terry Wogan and his wife Helen with their baby daughter Katherine at three weeks old in 1972
Sir Terry Wogan in 1973 sampling an oyster at a reception to celebrate the opening of the oyster season at Scott's restaurant in London
Larry Hagman (left) with Sir Terry Wogan during his Radio 2 Breakfast Show in 1980
Sir Terry Wogan in 1981 with Diana Ross when she was a guest on his early morning BBC Radio 2 programme
Sir Terry Wogan (back) with Britain's entry into the Eurovision Song Contest Bardo (centre left and right), and members of pop group Bucks Fizz in 1982
Security men pretending to frogmarch Sir Terry Wogan from Broadcasting House in London as a humourous finale to his 12 years hosting the early morning BBC 2 radio breakfast programme in 1984.
Sir Terry Wogan popping up through a TV screen to the amusement of a policeman after he accepted 100 TV sets on behalf of the NSPCC from Phillips marking the making of the company's 100 millionth TV set (1984)
Sir Terry Wogan (centre) with his chatshow guests Tina Turner and Elton John in 1985
Sir Terry Wogan trying on a kilt before hitting the high road to the BBC pro-celebrity golf tournament at Turnberry, Scotland in 1985
Duke of Edinburgh (left) appearing with Sir Terry Wogan on the 'Wogan' chatshow in 1986
The interview on September 19, 1990 when Belfast footballer George Best appeared drunk as a guest on 'WOGAN'
Sir Terry Wogan (right) revealing his waxwork on his television show 'Wogan'
BBC's Ken Bruce (left) and Sir Terry Wogan enjoying an extra hour in bed before presenting their radio programmes from Millstreet, Ireland, the venue for the Eurovision Song Contest in 1993
Sir Terry Wogan meeting Diana, Princess of Wales, in 1997
Sir Terry Wogan and his daughter Katherine at the Savoy Hotel in London, in 2001
Sir Terry Wogan with his wife Lady Helen, after the radio and television presenter collected his knighthood from Queen Elizabeth II in 2005
Sir Terry Wogan celebrating being given the Freedom of the City of London by single-handedly raising Tower Bridge
Sir Terry Wogan with fellow Eurovision host Natasha Kaplinsky (left) and winner Javine in 2005
Sir Terry Wogan with Pudsey the bear during a Children in Need photo call in 2008
Sir Terry Wogan meeting the Prince of Wales (left) at the Irish Embassy in London, in 2010
Sir Terry Wogan with a life-size cake replica made to mark the 30th anniversary of his presenting BBC Children in Need in 2009
Sir Terry Wogan (right), winner of 'Digital Radio Personality of the Year', with Chris Evans at the TRIC (Television and Radio Industries Club) Annual Awards, in 2010
Sir Terry Wogan with (left to right) Tess Daly, Alesha Dixon and Fearne Cotton during the BBC Children In Need Appeal 2011
Terry Wogan presents BBC One's in 2011
Sir Terry Wogan with a collection of Pudsey Bears designed by celebrities which were auctioned for Children in Need in 2013
Terry Wogan launching Children In Need on November 1, 2015 at the Landmark Hotel in London

Sir Terry Wogan will be missed greatly at BBC Radio 2, his colleagues have said as they described him as a "radio genius".

Fellow presenters were among those to pay tribute to the 77-year-old outside Broadcasting House in central London just hours after news of his death broke.

Drive Time presenter Simon Mayo first met Sir Terry covering the 1992 Olympics, and recalled his ability to put people at ease.

He told the Press Association: "He was warm, funny, welcoming, generous. You would think 'Oh my goodness, it's Sir Terry' and then as soon as you met him he'd offer you a biscuit and some cold curry that had been brought in the night before. I've worked with intimidating broadcasters and Terry wasn't that."

Describing him as a "radio genius", he said listeners saw Sir Terry as a friend.

He said: "I think people are shocked and stunned because of the fact that he was a radio genius. The staple of all great radio is the friend behind the microphone and he was the ultimate friend behind the microphone."

Bob Shennan, controller of Radio 2, made meeting Sir Terry his first priority when he took over the station seven years ago.

He said: "I thought the first thing I ought to do is go and see Terry.

"He was just such a welcoming, warm, generous person.

"Instantly I felt I'd just really lucked out doing this job to be perfectly honest.

"I realised what sort of a man he was, and that was the man I'd seen and heard in television and radio."

He described him as a natural when it came to radio, and recalled fellow presenter Jeremy Vine's shock when Sir Terry turned up five minutes before a show one day having done no preparation.

Mr Shennan said: "The thing about Terry was that he really didn't go into a lot of preparation for his programme. He fed off the audience. He didn't pre-judge what it would be about that day.

"Jeremy said to Terry 'How are you going to prepare for everything, have you done all your prep for that?' And Terry said 'No, I'll just get out of the lift and I'll wander into the studio. I'll open the microphone and we'll see what people have got to say.'

"And that was how he did it. And it was why he was so good."

Mark Goodier, who presented a tribute show to Sir Terry on Sunday morning, said he fulfilled all his expectations when they first became colleagues.

He said: "In my case I grew up listening to many of the people I have been lucky enough to end up working with.

"It's difficult to explain that if you wanted to do that job and end up working with your heroes, it's not always going to be as rewarding as you might think.

"Terry completely invalidates the expression 'never meet your heroes' because he was always courteous and charming."

He also paid tribute to Sir Terry's ability to do shows and make speeches off-the-cuff.

"He was funny on the air because he knew how to deal with listeners and their correspondence.

"He told me on several occasions that he never prepared anything. That's an incredible thing to be able to do. He was just a natural and there ain't many of them."

Richard Madeley, who had been sitting in for Sir Terry on Radio 2, said "none of us saw this coming", adding that he expected to see the veteran presenter back working early next month.

Speaking just after leaving the studio, he recalled first meeting Sir Terry some years ago while presenting television show This Morning, when the long-time Children In Need host came on to promote the charity programme.

He said: "What we realised straight away was there was no disconnect between the Terry Wogan that we saw on the television or heard on the radio, and the real man, none at all."

He also marvelled at Sir Terry's flair for turning up just before a show and doing a good job. He said: "He would just walk in, shoulder off his coat and start broadcasting without there being any kind of gap."

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