The broadcasters’ broadcaster – by Adrian Juste

Tributes continue to be made to Sir Terry, as broadcaster Adrian Juste writes he memories of the Radio 2 favourite.

You know you’ve REALLY made it in the business when people refer to you solely by your surname: Bates, Blackburn, Everett … Wogan.

I remember first hearing the young Terry in 1968, when he’d fly over from RTE to do a weekly ‘Late Night Extra’ on R2 – and it was obvious the guy had something different. That wonderful, gentle Irish brogue, the marvellous, spontaneous manner with the mic and of course his innate way of broadcasting 1:1 – to just you.
And after that .. well, you know the rest ……

With his Irish background, a hint of healthy rebellion was never too far away. The BBC Suits often thought he was joking … he rarely was; he despaired at what they’d done to the marvellous BBC he grew up with.
Ever a champion of the underdog, he was a great fan and supporter of the legendary Ray Moore. Especially so as Ray’s illness started to ruthlessly snuff out another of the Corporation’s recalcitrant lights.

I recall his eulogy at Ray’s funeral – management was extremely uncomfortable as he said something along the lines of: Good to see you’re all here on the front row to celebrate the life of Ray Moore – ‘Dear Ray Moore – by-passed more times than Kingston’.

Much squirming in the pews at that one I assure you.

But Terry, being Terry, had to say his piece. And bless him for it.

I didn’t really know Terry Wogan – but of course worked with many who did. My philosophy in life, especially during my showbiz years, was always: ‘You can judge the mark of a man by the way he treats people who are of absolutely no use to him’.

BBC engineers were always a good bench-mark for this concept. They knew who they liked in Broadcasting House .. and who they didn’t … and they all liked Wogan.

In the old days, if you wanted to be a Studio Manager (or Tech-Op as they were then ) before you were let loose on a live Network at BH you would enrol for a 3-year course at the BBC’s Training Centre at Wood Norton, near Evesham.

I remember one of the TOs telling me that, having just completed his course, he arrived at BH on the Monday morning to engineer his first ever show – ‘Wake Up With Wogan’ on R2 !!

As shows go they didn’t come any bigger.

He was terrified.

Terry was in the studio preparing his ad-libs – yes, he worked at appearing disorganised, just like the rest of us! – when he quickly appraised the situation, got up, came out to the cubicle, shook our friend warmly by the hand and said: ‘Hullo, I’m Terry Wogan – so, it’s yer first shift eh? Well don’t worry, we’re a nice friendly bunch here – we’ll get you through it OK’

…. Our rookie engineer relaxed instantly, and of course everything went fine.

But believe me, not all the big names do that – and they didn’t come any bigger than El Tel ….

Adrian Juste.

Re-published with permission from Adrian Juste’s Facebook.

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