Terry Wogan says BBC suffering “crisis of confidence”

ONE OF the BBC’s most respected broadcasters, Sir Terry Wogan, yesterday talked of the organization being “increasingly vulnerable to attack” from  the Press in the light  of the Ross/Brand Affair and in a “crisis of confidence”. Sir Terry was anguishing out loud to an audience of retired Television executives at a Royal Television Society Veteran’s lunch in London, writes John Mair.

Ross/Bland had led to this “crisis of confidence. It is no longer a certain BBC – the one I joined,” he said.  Once it had been. It was no more. But, despite recent woes and mistakes like leaving Television Centre, “that dead or deserted doughnut in the White City” in his words, the BBC was still “the greatest broadcaster in the world” in the eyes of one who has worked for them for forty years this year.

Sir Terry, 70, whose ‘Wake up to Wogan’ on BBC Radio Two is the nation’s favourite radio breakfast show revealed some secrets of his broadcasting success. He called his talent “a gift”, and was pleased that “I have found something I can do” after a false start in banking in his native Ireland.

He aimed with his programme to “create a club atmosphere” with his listeners or ‘TOGS’ (Terry’s Old Geezers) as members. Broadcasting for him was about communication, “not about audiences.  You are talking to one or two people”.  Wogan refused to be drawn into any of the criticism of his Radio One ‘rival’, Chris Moyles, who has been in more than his share of hot water in recent months.

Sir Terry Wogan, pictured in the BBC Radio 2 studio presenting 'Wake up to Wogan', said the BBC is not the one he joined 40 years ago

“He manages to attract a young audience in spite of Ipods, computers and others things.” was all he would commit himself to say.  On the Eurovision Song Contest, from which he retired as the BBC Commentator after twenty years last year, he was less circumspect: “The Iron Curtain has never been lifted. They still vote for their neighbour in case they invade them next week,” was Wogan’s reading of the geo-politics of voting.

His innings had come to an end there because the “last thing I want people to say is that he is not bad for his age”.  The BBC may soon face the same problem soon with his Radio Two programme.

Sir Terry is clearly proudest of his broadcasting work on ‘Children in Need’ over the last thirty years “We have raised half a billion pounds,” he boasted whilst revealing that last year’s yet to be announced total raised would be £37million pounds – “not bad from a programme which started in a hotel lobby in Hammersmith…”.

Sir Terry Wogan was amongst friends and former producers, like Sir Paul Fox, James Moir, and Kevin Bishop in the hundred strong RTS Veteran’s audience. He was interviewed by the former ITV controller of Entertainment, Vernon Lawrence.

  • John Mair is a senior lecturer in journalism at Coventry University
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