Why Terry Wogan was the real deal, BBC chairman

Former BBC chairman Michael Grade has paid tribute to Terry Wogan ahead of the memorial for the late broadcaster.

Grade, who had worked with Sir Terry since the 1980s, told the Radio Times he was “authentic – the real deal”.

He said the service at Westminster Abbey on September 27 would be a fitting tribute to the presenter – who died on January 31 aged 77, after a short battle with cancer – and that Terry’s “living memorial” was Children in Need.

Grade said: “Over the years Children in Need has raised over £638 million, but today it’s easy to forget that giving on such a scale had never happened before in British broadcasting – and finding someone viewers would give their money to wasn’t easy.

“Of course, once Terry got hold of Children in Need, it just took off and he was so proud of what it became.”

Grade attributes the Limerick native's success to his wit, the fact he was a good listener and that people trusted him.

He went on: “I suppose you could say he was a TV personality. I hate that phrase because it rather undersells his talent. He was a great broadcaster and absolutely nothing could throw him.

“One of his great strengths was that if things were going wrong, he’d own up. He wouldn’t try and pretend to the viewers that everything was fine. He told you the truth – even if it made him look silly.

“That was the beauty of him hosting the Eurovision Song Contest. He told the truth. He did it with charm and dignity but he’d say – ‘Well, this is a load of old tosh, isn’t it?’ And we’d say, ‘You’re absolutely right, Terry’.”

“He was a joy to work with, a joy to be with socially,” Grade added.

This week’s Radio Times is on sale on Tuesday.

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