Deaths are not unusual.
Reliable sources have informed me that everyone who has ever lived has died. It’s fair to point out that the outpouring of grief about the death of celebrities can come across as somewhat over the top. Sometimes the virtual deification of regular human beings can be off-putting.
This tribute to Sir Terry Wogan is not to place him as a person who evidently went beyond all humanity and deserves months of mourning and the like. This entry is as much about me as it is about him. In fact it’s a lot more about me than it is about him.
Sir Terry Wogan was a radio and television personality. My awareness of him was firstly through his stint as presenter of Blankety Blank. All I have known of him is from his displays on television and on radio. I have not been a keen follower of everything he has done. I am not a TOG or a TYG.
The case, however, is that I have been interested in the media for a long time and back in the 80’s and 90’s in particular I consumed a lot of television. My sense of humour was largely informed by what I saw on television. There were things I enjoyed and would feel very comfortable with. One of those was the amiable wit of Wogan on Blankety Blank. The role of the presenter is one I admired and Wogan was consummately at ease with it. He fitted the show and the show fitted him. I wasn’t aware at the time that a lot of what was going on was fairly cheesy and cheap. Some of the in-jokes went over my young head. Yet there was enough in his style and conversational manner with the celebrity guests to give the impression you were at home in his company.
Getting people at ease was something I saw in his talk-show as well. Apparently people though it was a flop – certainly the producers did who axed it. I rather enjoyed it. Again I saw Wogan endeavouring to help his guests feel at ease. The term self-deprecatory was something I saw in him and it was an endearing quality.
One of the activities I got into when I studied at university was the university radio station. Listening to some of Wogan’s stuff influenced me significantly in how I would come across when I got the chance to do some stuff on air. It also allowed me to appreciate what a gift Wogan evidently had for communication, because the elements required to be an effective broadcaster are not things to be sniffed at.
What I particularly love about the Wogan legacy is the principle that in broadcasting, effective communication makes the listener appreciate that you are just talking to them. Even with an audience of thousands and millions to know that you are talking to me as though it’s just me is what is warming and that which puts us at ease. Wogan did that in a way that appeared effortless and enriched the entertaining experience because of it.
So his passing away yesterday matters to me not so much in terms that I’ll miss him. More in the sense that it highlights just what a great contribution his career has made in a lot of what I’m interested in when it comes to media and communication. It’s another opportunity to express gratitude for the mark he’s made.
It’s clear by the reaction that his mark has been indelibly left in the media landscape of this country. That’s a sign of just what a gifted and treasured broadcaster he was. That’s why it matters.
C. L. J. Dryden