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Gloria Hunniford leads tributes to Terry Wogan, the colossus of British broadcasting

By Angela Rainey

Some of Northern Ireland's best known faces have told of their sadness following the death of Sir Terry Wogan.

The BBC stalwart died at the weekend after a "brave and short battle with cancer".

The 77-year-old father-of-four died peacefully, surrounded by his wife Lady Helen and their children.

A multitude of celebrities have paid tribute to the Limerick-born presenter, whose Radio 2 Breakfast Show Wake Up To Wogan once boasted nearly nine million listeners.

Renowned for his wit and sense of humour, colleagues called him a "true gent" and "a broadcasting legend".

Sir Terry began his broadcasting career in Dublin with RTE, his broadcasts often interrupted by a mouse-infestation of the Henry Street building in Dublin.

In a career that spanned five decades, his best-loved shows included Wogan, Children in Need and his hosting of the Eurovision Song Contest.

He is also credited for helping musicians such as Daniel O'Donnell and Foster and Allen to stardom by airing their records on his radio show.

This Morning presenter Eammon Holmes led online tributes to his friend. He wrote: "The Don is gone - Will miss you so much, head of The Murphia. Thanks for your blessing and your friendship."

First Minister Arlene Foster said the broadcaster was legendary for his wit. In a Facebook tribute she said: "I am so, so sorry to hear about the death of Terry Wogan. I used to love him on Radio 2 and his Eurovision coverage was legendary for its wit. Children in need was synonymous with Sir Terry and when he missed it in November, little did we think it was because he was terminally ill. A truly fabulous broadcaster and family man, we are the poorer for his passing."

Northern Ireland television presenter Gloria Hunniford credited Sir Terry for helping her career and never losing touch with his Irish roots.

She said his death felt like "losing a member of my family, because I seem to have known Terry forever".

"I have to be very grateful to Terry for all sorts of things apart from his friendship, because he turned my broadcasting career around.

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

"He was very generous of spirit, a terrific family man and had a unique sense of everything. The word unique is often bandied about, but I believe that Terry was unique.

"Terry always talked about his Irish roots, he loved anything to do with an Irish story and he loved Irish music.

"There'll never be anybody like him in broadcasting again, I believe."

Donegal singer Daniel O'Donnell said the veteran broadcaster aided his career in the 1980s, airing his records to an audience of millions. The pair last met in October.

He said: "He was a lovely man and helped me greatly in my early career."

BBC presenter Stephen Nolan tweeted: "Even if you didn't know him personally, it will feel today that your friend has died. That was Terry Wogan's brilliance. RIP"

Graham Norton, who took over as Eurovision commentator from Sir Terry, said on Twitter: "He made it seem effortless and for a young boy in Ireland he made it seem possible. RIP, Sir Terry Wogan."

David Cameron wrote on Twitter: "My thoughts are with Terry Wogan's family. Britain has lost a huge talent - someone millions came to feel was their own special friend."

President of Ireland Michael D Higgins said: "Always proud of his origins in Limerick, he made many returns to his native country for television and radio projects.

"His rise to the top of radio listenership in the United Kingdom was a great tribute to his breadth of knowledge and in particular his unique, very personal sense of humour."

His meteoric career

  • Sir Terry's first taste of television came when he began working at Irish broadcaster RTE, as a newsreader and announcer.
  • Making the move to the BBC, he hosted a mid-1960s programme called Midday Spin and a big break came when he provided holiday cover for Sir Jimmy Young, which went so well it resulted in him getting his own show.
  • Millions of people woke up to his Limerick brogue during the 27 years he presented his BBC Radio 2 breakfast show. His salary was said to be around £800,000. His announcement in September 2009 that he would be quitting the show was met with an outcry from fans.
  • Sir Terry's commentary at the Eurovision Song Contest made for an amusing listen, as he spoke - often quite honestly - about the acts vying for the title. He gave the role up in 2008.
  • He was very much a TV star as well as a radio veteran, fronting the long-running panel show Blankety Blank and appearing as a guest on shows including Celebrity Squares and New Faces.
  • Sir Terry will always be known for his association with the BBC's Children In Need. He was one of the founders and hosted the telethon for more than 20 years, helping to raise over £400m for charity. He missed last November's appeal at the last minute on medical advice, after a procedure on his back.
  • He saw his Radio 2 audience pass the 8 million mark in 2005. He joked: "Hang on, there's 60 million people in the country - what are the other 52 million listening to?"
  • An accomplished star of TV and radio, Sir Terry tried his hand at singing and had a novelty hit single in 1978 with a version of The Floral Dance.

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