TV preview: A double dose of that man Wogan

Terry Wogan Presents The Very Best Of The Ed Sullivan Show.
Terry Wogan Presents The Very Best Of The Ed Sullivan Show.
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They’re the all-in-one romper suits beloved by teenagers, members of One Direction and reality TV stars. And so widespread is their appeal that even velvet-voiced broadcasting veteran Terry Wogan is a fan of the garment known as the ‘onesie’.

“I have a onesie that my daughter gave me for Christmas,” he chuckles. “I wear it all the time, of course. They’re comfortable, not to get out of, but once you’re in, you’re in!”

Although Wogan jokes that he’s “twiddling his thumbs eleven-and-a-half-months of the year” before springing into action for the fortnight surrounding annual televised fundraiser Children In Need, his busy diary suggests there isn’t much slack for lolling around in a onesie.

As well as his Radio 2 show, Weekend Wogan, there’s a new collection of his Sunday Telegraph columns, Something For The Weekend, to compile, and a one-off special, Terry Wogan Presents The Very Best Of The Ed Sullivan Show.

The show will see 75-year-old Wogan looking back on the highlights of Sullivan’s popular American series, which was broadcast from 1948 to 1971 and featured early appearances by The Beatles and The Rolling Stones.

“It’s the show all others live in the shadows of, in terms of variety, because he had every star, every kind of star and not only that, all the people we regard as stars now,” explains Wogan, who lives in Buckinghamshire with his wife Helen - the “present Mrs Wogan”.

He adds: “If you hadn’t been on The Ed Sullivan Show, you hadn’t made it.”

Like many of his generation, the Limerick-born star only saw snatches of the programmes on the news, but remembers the “furore” over Elvis’s “waggling of the hips” when he was a teen.

So did he find watching the old clips a trip down memory lane? Wogan laughs at the suggestion, pointing out that he’s always remained in that era.

“I’ve never left the bank,” says the presenter, who started his career as a cashier before becoming an announcer for Raidio Teilifis Eireann (RTE) five years later.

For 27 years, on and off, he soundtracked the nation’s mornings with his gentle Radio 2 breakfast broadcast, Wake Up To Wogan, which was scoring eight million listeners a week before it ended in 2009, making it the most popular morning radio programme in Europe.

Then there was his much-loved commentary for Eurovision, his chat show Wogan and, of course, Children In Need, which is broadcast on Friday.

Wogan, who has two grown-up sons and a daughter - another daughter died shortly after birth - is immensely proud of the enduring telethon.

“Ever since 1980 the British public have given us nearly 700 million quid for Children In Need,” he says, noting that he’s been touched by the generosity of Brits, especially during the “economic disaster”.

“Isn’t that fantastic? It’s the people’s charity you see, it’s the odd 50p here and there.”

He’s still very much in tune with the mood of the nation, watching programmes that his fans watch, commentating whimsically on British life through his columns and shows, and joking that if he were to make cakes for a Children In Need bake sale, Great British Bake Off judge Mary Berry would “probably find a soggy bottom” in it.

He attributes a great deal of his happiness to Helen, a former model to whom he’s been married for 47 or 48 years. “I’ve got to get this right because whenever I say how long we’ve been married, my wife always corrects me.

“My wife has been my rock, really. She’s always been straightforward, she’s always been faithful and she’s always been kind. She’s as near perfect as I deserve.”

The couple haven’t sketched out plans for their 50th anniversary, but Wogan’s own wishes for the special date are quite modest. “I’m planning on staying alive. I’m hoping to be spared!”

As for his career, he’s pragmatic. ““There’s a time to make an entrance and a time to head for the exit.”

Best Of The Ed Sullivan Show, TCM, Sunday, 7pm

Children In Need, BBC1, Friday, 7.30pm

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