Posted by: Jenny | Friday, 18 December 2009

Farewell Sir Terry

It is 1996, and I am approaching the dangerous turning-point of my fortieth birthday.  I meet a colleague early in the morning, to travel with him to a business meeting in Coventry.  Nigel is the same age as me (a year or two younger, even) and his car radio is set to Radio 2.  Hang on a minute – the music they’re playing is the kind of stuff I enjoy listening to!  The banter is quite entertaining too.  And I have to confess that I enjoy the show, in spite of it being hosted by Terry Wogan.

In my younger years, of course, it was not cool to listen to Terry Wogan.  He represented everything we loved to hate: middle of the road, middle-aged complacency.  And then he was so popular, and we hated that too.  His TV shows – Blankety-Blank, Wogan, even Auntie’s Bloomers – appealed to the masses, and we felt we were above all that.

If I listened to the radio at all in my twenties and thirties, it was to Radio 1 or a local independent channel broadcasting pop music.  Or Radio 4, which was somehow established enough to be cool even if it did seem to cater for a geriatric audience.

Now I start to tune in each morning.  We catch the first half hour or so over breakfast and on the way to work.  Radio 2’s selection of lively, tuneful music interspersed with the irreverent, friendly chatter of people who don’t take themselves too seriously wins hands down over the earnest, aspirational delivery of some other stations at this hour in the morning.

I’ve become a Wogan fan.  Actually, I’ve become a self-confessed TOG.  I dread the day that Mr (now Sir Terry) Wogan no longer rules the morning airwaves.  Who could possibly replace him?  It will be a grim day indeed when Wake Up To Wogan goes off the air. 

In fact, Sir Terry has made a graceful and joyous exit.  His replacement could not have been better chosen.  I’m not going to put the black armbands on, as I had threatened to do.  Chris Evans shares Sir Terry’s ability to laugh at himself and empathise with his listeners.  Is this what being middle-aged is all about, I wonder?  The ability to take life a little more lightly, and be more tolerant of others, now that we have been around long enough to take a few knocks.

My husband accompanies several tour groups each year on rail holidays as a tour manager with Great Rail Journeys.  The group participants are mostly in their sixties.  The success of a walking or rail tour to the Alps can be greatly affected by the weather.  Yet Martin has found that most of his customers take bad weather in their stride, accepting that it cannot be helped.  He makes the observation that most of them have experienced one or more of the challenges that life throws up: divorce, bereavement, illness, redundancy, financial loss.  At their time of life, they are not going to let a week of continuous rain spoil their holiday.

Messrs Wogan and Evans speak to a middle-aged, ‘real’ audience because they know that life has its serious side too.  Entertainment, especially a morning radio show, is about allowing us to face our day with confidence and with a smile on our faces.



  1. I like it!

  2. Excellent reflective piece, Jenny. As one who has passed through middle age and am now considered to be in my senior years, I can completely understand your loyalty to Sir Terry – although I have to say I am (and have long been) a Radio 4 Bore, with a touch of Radio 3 now and again.

    Chris Evans will no doubt have to work hard to replace Sir Terry in the nation’s affections, but I’m sure he will achieve it, given time.

    I must try one of Martin’s Great Rail Journeys. I LOVE trains (always have) and I’m now the right age!

  3. […] Farewell Sir Terry […]

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