Sir Michael Terence Wogan KBE DL (//; 3 August 1938 – 31 January 2016), better known as Terry Wogan, was an Irish radio and television broadcaster who worked for the BBC in the UK for most of his career. Before he retired in 2009, his BBC Radio 2 weekday breakfast programme Wake Up to Wogan had eight million regular listeners, making him the most listened-to radio broadcaster in Europe.
Wogan was a leading media personality in Britain and Ireland from the late 1960s and was often referred to as a "national treasure". In addition to his weekday radio show, he was known for his work on television, including the BBC One chat show Wogan, presenting Children in Need, the game show Blankety Blank and Come Dancing. He was the BBC's commentator for the Eurovision Song Contest from 1971 to 2008 and its host in 1998. From 2010 to 2015 he presented Weekend Wogan, a two-hour Sunday morning show on BBC Radio 2.
In 2005, Wogan acquired British citizenship in addition to his Irish nationality and was thus entitled to use the title "Sir" in front of his name when he was awarded a knighthood in the same year. He died from cancer at his home in Taplow, Buckinghamshire, on 31 January 2016, aged 77.
Wogan, the son of the manager of Leverett & Frye, a high class grocery store in Limerick, Ireland, was educated at Crescent College, a Jesuit school, from the age of eight. He experienced a strongly religious upbringing, later commenting that he had been brainwashed into believing by the threat of going to hell. Despite this, he often expressed his fondness for the city of his birth, commenting on one occasion that "Limerick never left me, whatever it is, my identity is Limerick."
At the age of 15, after his father was promoted to general manager, Wogan moved to Dublin with his family. While living there, he attended Crescent College's sister school, Belvedere College. He participated in amateur dramatics and discovered a love of rock and roll. After leaving Belvedere in 1956, Wogan had a brief career in the banking profession, joining the Royal Bank of Ireland. While in his twenties, he joined the national broadcaster of Ireland, RTÉ (Raidió Teilifís Éireann), as a newsreader and announcer after seeing a newspaper advertisement inviting applicants.
Wogan conducted interviews and presented documentary features during his first two years at Raidió Teilifís Éireann, before moving to the light entertainment department as a disc jockey and host of TV quiz and variety shows such as Jackpot, a top rated quiz show on RTÉ in the 1960s. When the show was dropped by RTÉ TV in 1967, Wogan approached the BBC for extra work. David Attenborough rebuffed Wogan's job application to be a BBC presenter as "to have two Irishmen presenting on BBC Two would have looked ridiculous". He began working for BBC Radio, initially 'down the line' from Dublin, first broadcasting on the Light Programme on 27 September 1966. He presented the Tuesday edition of Late Night Extra for two years on BBC Radio 1, commuting weekly from Dublin to London. After standing-in for Jimmy Young's mid-morning show, whilst he took a holiday throughout July 1969, he was offered a weekday afternoon slot between 3pm and 5pm.
In April 1972, he took over the breakfast show on BBC Radio 2, swapping places with John Dunn, who briefly hosted the afternoon show. Wogan achieved record audiences of up to 7.9 million. His seemingly ubiquitous presence across the media meant that he frequently became the butt of jokes by comedians of the time, among them The Goodies and The Barron Knights. He released a parody vocal version of the song "The Floral Dance" in 1978, by popular request from listeners who enjoyed hearing him sing over the instrumental hit by the Brighouse and Rastrick Brass Band. His version reached number 21 in the UK Singles Chart. In December 1984, Wogan left his breakfast show to pursue a full-time career in television and was replaced by Ken Bruce. His first chat show Wogan's World, was broadcast on BBC Radio 4 from 6 June 1974 to 21 September 1975.