Northern Ireland news

I was Terry Wogan's `other listener'

Fans watch news of Terry Wogan's death at BBC Broadcasting House. Picture by Anthony Devlin/PA Wire

I was Terry Wogan's other listener.

All through school, university, during my long commute to my first job, shorter commute to my present one, first in the car with parents chortling along, later on buses with my walkman, alone in bad traffic, with my (initally bewildered) boyfriend-now-husband.

Belfast children are supposed to listen to Citybeat or Cool FM on the way to school. University students are supposed to listen to Radio 1.

I didn't care. I had a date every morning with `Tel' and nothing was going to prevent me from keeping it.

I completely understand the people who didn't `get' his appeal having only seen him on TV, fronting his talkshow or once a year on Children in Need

There was a special alchemy that happened when you combined Terry Wogan with radio waves. Something of it could be discerned from his Eurovision commentary, the confiding tone speaking only to you, laidback charm, keen eye for the ridiculous.

However, to listen to Wake Up to Wogan every morning was to step into another world, an anarchic parallel universe peopled with benign but eccentric characters that quickly became more familiar than your own relatives.

Your guide through all the madness was Terry Wogan, or `Oi, Tel' as he was greeted in the thousands of letters and emails that flooded in with surreal musings.

Among my favourite chums were Chuffer Dandridge, a `resting' Shakespearean actor-manager with a keen interest in the news, Edna Cloud, Dora Jarr and Lou Smorrels.

All signed themselves `Your Other Listener' - as Terry used to claim to have an audience of one.

I started out as a TYG (Terry's Young Geezers and Gals), but eventually embraced reaching TOGdom (Terry's Old Geezers and Gals).

He pioneered the now familiar practice of including newsreaders and traffic and travel announcers in the show and thus Alan `Deadly' Dedicoat, John `Boggy' Marsh and Lynn Bowles, the 'Totty from Splotty', were drawn into the madness - in Marsh's case in the form of innuendo-laiden `Janet and John' style stories ostensibly based on him and wife Janet.

Reader, I wept when he announced his retirement. Mornings have never been the same.

And now my childhood companion has gone forever. RIP Tel...

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