Entertainment & Arts

Sir Terry Wogan to receive Westminster Abbey tribute

Sir Terry Wogan
Image caption The thanksgiving service for Sir Terry Wogan will be held on the 50th anniversary of the late broadcaster's BBC debut

Sir Terry Wogan's life will be celebrated in a special service at Westminster Abbey in central London, the BBC has announced.

The thanksgiving event will take place on 27 September, which will mark the 50th anniversary of Sir Terry's first radio broadcast for the corporation.

Sir Terry, who died in January at the age of 77 from cancer, began his career on the BBC Light Programme.

Further details of the service will be announced at a later date.

The Radio Academy's festival at the British Library will be moved to 26 September to avoid a clash.

A spokesperson said: "As a mark of respect to Sir Terry Wogan - one of the great figures of British broadcasting - and to avoid in any way detracting from the service of Thanksgiving being held for him at Westminster Abbey, the Radio Festival, which was due to take place on the same day, will now be moved."

Sir Terry has already been remembered in a special episode of Songs of Praise on BBC One.

He was one of Britain's most loved and enduring radio and TV personalities.

His death on 31 January came as a surprise to many people since he had kept his illness out of the headlines.

Leading figures from the worlds of showbusiness and politics were quick to pay tribute to him, with Prime Minister David Cameron saying he was "someone millions came to feel was their own special friend".

Former Radio 2 presenter Jonathan Ross said: "He was a thoughtful, generous and sane man in an industry where those qualities are rare."

Stinging commentary

Given his popularity and the length of his career, the thanksgiving event is likely to be attended by a high-profile congregation.

Sir Terry was the popular presenter of the Radio 2 breakfast show up until 2009, when Chris Evans took over.

His jocular manner, and flights of whimsy, helped Sir Terry build an audience of eight million.

He was last heard on the station on 8 November, presenting his Weekend Wogan show, which he had hosted since 2010 following his decision to step down from his weekday show.

A few days later, it was announced Sir Terry would not be presenting the BBC's annual charity fundraiser Children In Need due to health issues. It was the first time in the event's 35-year history that he would not front the appeal show.

Sir Terry was also well-known for fronting the BBC's Eurovision coverage from 1971 to 2008, just for radio at the start and later moving to TV.

From 1980 to 2008 he was the indispensible television voice of the contest for millions of listeners.

His witty commentary proved to be one of the many highlights of his career.

The show, which now has Graham Norton doing BBC commentary, is being held this year be held on 14 May in Stockholm.

Last month, Christer Bjorkman, the Swedish producer of this year's contest, criticised Sir Terry's work on the show and said he would never have given him a job.

Mr Bjorkman said Sir Terry had "totally spoiled Eurovision" by mocking the acts and making the audience consider the contest as merely "kitsch".

But the BBC said: "Sir Terry Wogan is and always will be part of the heritage of the Eurovision Song Contest."

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