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Terry Wogan's journey with faith detailed in biography

Sat 27 Feb 2016
By Hannah Tooley

Veteran British broadcaster Sir Terry Wogan has confessed, in a biography, that he lost his Catholic faith that he grew up with after his baby daughter died. 

The 77-year-old died on January 31st 2016 and was best known for his show on BBC Radio 2 as well as hosting the Eurovision song contest and various television programmes including Children in Need.

Following his death, his family said: "Sir Terry Wogan died today after a short but brave battle with cancer.

"He passed away surrounded by his family."

Katie Collins/PA Wire


Who was Sir Terry Wogan?

Name: Michael Terence Wogan
D.O.B: 3 August 1938, Limerick, Ireland
Died: 31 January 2016 
Television: Eurovision Song Contest, Blankety Blank, Children in Need
Radio: Wake Up to Wogan, Weekend Wogan, Spouses, Children 4

The book, 'Terry Wogan: A Life of Laughter 1938-2016', discusses his life and his battle with faith and details how Sir Terry grew up with a Catholic faith but was unable to believe after going through strict schooling and the death of his three-week-old baby daughter.

Wogan was married to his wife, Helen, for more than 50 years and has four children and seven grandchildren; his fifth child, his daughter Vanessa passed away in intensive care when she was three-weeks-old from heart problems.

Terry and Helen married in 1965.

Speaking in The Daily Express his biographer, Emily Herbert, wrote about Terry's experience: "There's been precious little sadness in my life.

"But our first child died when we were still living in Ireland, which was awful. Those were terrible days.

"We just prayed she would be saved. These days she could be. But she didn't last long.

"I remember it all so vividly, I remember punching the wall.

"It is strange but she's the only one of my children whose face I can remember as a baby. I can still see it.

"It was a very short time we had with her and I miss her every day. I was extremely resentful of fate, of life and the unfairness."



Sir Terry had a traditional Catholic upbringing and has previously upset the Church by speaking about his childhood: "There were hundreds of churches, all these missions breathing fire and brimstone, telling you how easy it was to sin, how you'd be in hell.

"We were brainwashed into believing."

He said he lost his faith aged 17, a stance that was re-affirmed after the death of Vanessa. Talking about his wife Helen he said: "Helen has the gift of faith and believes and goes to Mass and is Catholic."

It has been claimed that during the end of his life Terry Wogan started coming back to God and Fr Brian D'Arcy, a Catholic priest and friend, travelled from Ireland to England to say goodbye. He had married Terry's three children and conducted the funeral of Terry's mother.

Ian West/PA Wire
Sir Terry Wogan with (left to right) Tess Daly, Alesha Dixon and Fearne Cotton during the BBC Children In Need Appeal 2011


Fr Brian D'Arcy told the Express: "Honest to God, if there is not room for Terry Wogan in Heaven then the God I've been preaching is a way off."

He commented: "I used to say to him, 'if you are an atheist so am I.' He put it into practice, whether he could agree with religious institutions or not is an entirely different thing.

"But he certainly had a great deal of faith."

Sir Terry was born in Limerick in Ireland on 3rd August 1938 and had a broadcasting career spanning more than five decades.

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