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Terry Wogan: A Lesson in Humour

Terry Wogan died this weekend, after a short battle with cancer. He was a familiar voice on radio, TV especially the BBC. His Radio Two Morning Show was listened to by millions and his outrageous, tongue-in-cheek commentary on the Eurovision Song Contest will long be remembered. 

Throughout his career he managed to have his own chat show, host Blankety Blank and help raise millions for Children in Need. His intimate, easygoing, engaging style and Irish lilt made him a family favourite. Each morning in his radio show there was a pause for thought where he would lead the radio audience an attempt to help pause for thought, after asking how they wanted to be lead. Off air, I discovered he was fascinated by philosophy. He loved to talk about his schooling with the Christian Brothers, his bank clerk days and how his journey into broadcasting began in Ireland, then onto working for the BBC. He told me he had never been to an Oxford college to dine, so Terry and his lovely wife, Helen, a former model, came to dinner. No one was warned and the silence when they arrived was the ‘Is it or isn’t it?’ variety. It was. The serving staff loved him. He charmed them all, treating them as if they were old best friends. At the end of the meal, the college steward told him, he was always welcome to come to dinner. The next morning people rushed to tell me that my college had been mentioned on Radio Two by Terry Wogan. All the publicity only cost me two meals and was well worth it; I dined out for weeks on the reflected glory.

Terry managed to blend humour, gentle teasing and professional delivery of music and chat. He brought joy and smiles to the faces and lives of so many. There is a time to laugh, a time to rejoice with those who rejoice and a time to weep with those who weep. Joy, fun and praise are part of the celebration of God and His goodness. God chooses what the world regards as foolish to shame the wise. Jesus was criticised because of the company he kept. When Jesus spoke, ordinary people were charmed, because he was full of grace and truth. He taught them as One, Who had genuine authority. He brought God to ordinary humanity and lifted ordinary humanity into the very being and presence of God. He calls us to do as He did-to reflect the glory of God into human life and to all we meet.

Terry Wogan entertained millions and brought a ray of light and humour into the ordinary lives of so many. The ‘Floral Dance’ will go on being played and we will continue to ‘Fight the Flab’, but more importantly, we as individuals can bring smiles, humour and joy into the ordinary, by our careful words, broadcast perhaps only to a few, but crucial in every way to all who meet and hear us. We can also reflect the glory and reality of the living God, Who longs for His people to rejoice and celebrate every good thing. 

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