Wogan was ‘consummate broadcaster’

Byrne, Tubridy, Balfe, Murphy among those paying tributes to late Limerick man

Terry Wogan taking part in a charity recording of a Children in Need album.

Terry Wogan taking part in a charity recording of a Children in Need album.

 

Fellow broadcasters remembered Terry Wogan as an outstanding professional and as a man with a “quirky”, even sometimes surreal, sense of humour.

Gay Byrne said he was very sad to learn of Wogan’s death at the weekend from cancer at the age of 77. Speaking on the Sunday with Miriam programme on RTÉ Radio 1, Byrne said Wogan had been born with “a monster advantage over the rest of us, which is that he was born with a permanently sunny disposition”.

Limerick-born broadcaster Wogan had been optimistic and good natured and saw the fun in everything, Byrne said.

“He was expecting the best and the best seemed to happen.”

Brendan Balfe, who Wogan trained as a radio announcer, remembered his “slightly offbeat and surreal sense of humour” and said he was “ a wonderful and charming man”.

On the same show, former RTÉ broadcaster Mike Murphy said he was “absolutely shocked” and saddened.

He described Wogan as “so ebullient and so full of life and so full of energy”.

Speaking to Dave Fanning on RTÉ 2FM, Ryan Tubridy said he had met Wogan several times in London and recalled the BBC star had the luxury of a driver because he enjoyed reading newspapers on his way to work. He was an “amiable, genial” gentleman. “He was really Irish, but he became very British.”

Friend and broadcaster Henry Kelly said he was shocked to learn of Wogan’s death because he had “put it out that he had a bad back”. Speaking from his home in north London, he said: “For so many people in this country, it is going to be like a death in the family.”

‘Difficult times’

RTÉ director general Noel Curran said Wogan was “a consummate broadcaster and an ambassador for Irish talent in the UK – particularly during difficult times in Ireland’s relationship with Britain”.

“I knew him from meeting him at Eurovision and I found his on-air humour and warmth was always there in person. He has made a unique contribution to broadcasting in the UK and to the stature of Irish broadcasters internationally.”

Sky presenter Eamonn Holmes said “Dublin was very much part of Wogan’s life although he was born in Limerick”. He added that, as a young Irish broadcaster, to get Wogan’s blessing, was a “marvellous, marvellous thing”.

‘Breadth of knowledge’

President Michael D Higgins paid tribute to Wogan’s “breadth of knowledge and in particular his unique, very personal sense of humour”.

“People in Ireland will remember his early career in Irish broadcasting. On his move to Britain his voice became one of the most often quoted, favourite radio voices,” he said. “Always proud of his origins in Limerick, he made many returns to his native country for television and radio projects.”

Taoiseach Enda Kenny said Wogan’s humour and wit were “unparalleled” and he offered condolences to his family. “As an Irishman, Terry Wogan occupied a special place in British listeners’ hearts and he acted in no small way as a bridge between Ireland and Britain.

“His always entertaining, and often unforgiving, commentary of the Eurovision Song Contest provided viewers here and in Britain with endless entertainment.”

Tánaiste Joan Burton said Wogan had provided “inspiration to generations of emigrants, who like himself, had moved from Ireland to make better lives for themselves at a time when it wasn’t always easy to be Irish in the UK”.

Northern Ireland First Minister Arlene Foster said she was “so, so sorry to hear” about Wogan’s death. “I used to love him on Radio 2 and his Eurovision coverage was legendary for its wit.”