London: Sir Terry Wogan, renowned for his work on Radio 2’s breakfast show and Children In Need, has died of cancer at the age of 77.
A family statement, issued by the BBC, said: “Sir Terry Wogan died today after a short but brave battle with cancer. He passed away surrounded by his family.
“While we understand he will be missed by many, the family ask that their privacy is respected at this time.”
Sir Terry had last appeared on the airwaves at the beginning of November, when he hosted a show for Radio 2.
Later that month, he pulled out of Children In Need for health reasons.
His colleagues at the BBC were among the first to praise Sir Terry – with his successor as host of Radio 2’s breakfast show, Chris Evans, tweeting: “We are all so terribly sad upon hearing of the passing of Terry. I can’t put into words how the whole Radio 2 family is feeling.
“Our most heartfelt thoughts go out to Helen, Mark, Alan, Katherine and Vanessa. To many of us Terry was Radio 2. We still can’t believe it.”
Fellow presenter Jeremy Vine shared this story about Sir Terry: “Someone asked him how many listeners he had. Instead of answering nine million, which would have been accurate, he said: ‘Only one.’
“And it was this approach that made him one of the greatest broadcasters this country has ever seen.”
Sir Bruce Forsyth said: “Terry was such a great broadcaster and part of our lives for so many years. He will be much missed.”
The Beeb’s director-general, Tony Hall, said he had lost a “wonderful friend” – and added Sir Terry has left a “remarkable legacy” through Children In Need, which has raised hundreds of millions of pounds for charity.
There have also been countless tributes from the much-loved broadcaster’s legion of “TOGs” – Terry’s Old Geezers and Gals.
Sir Terry was also celebrated for his commentary of the Eurovision Song Contest from when it began in the 1970s.
Although he loved the annual competition, the host was renowned for his sarcastic comments about rival acts to the UK.
In one putdown, he famously said: “Who knows what hellish future lies ahead? Actually, I do. I’ve seen the rehearsals.”
Despite his withering remarks, Eurovision tweeted: “We are deeply saddened by the passing of Terry Wogan. He was without doubt the most remarkable Eurovision commentator in history.”
Graham Norton, a fellow Irishman who succeeded him as anchor of the Eurovision coverage, tweeted: “He made it seem effortless and for a young boy in Ireland he made it seem possible. RIP Sir Terry Wogan. I’ll raise a glass during song 9.”
Sky’s Eamonn Holmes described his experiences of meeting Sir Terry as a young broadcaster in Ireland – and remembered him as a “family man” who was laidback and very successful.
Esther Rantzen, who worked with him on the first Children In Need telethon in 1980, told Sky News: “I just loved his company and the viewers and listeners loved his company. And he had that extraordinary warmth and charm.
“He was funny, witty – a really skilled interviewer, which looked so effortless but was not.”
Tributes have also been paid by the Prime Minister, David Cameron, who tweeted: “My thoughts are with Terry Wogan’s family. Britain has lost a huge talent – someone millions came to feel was their own special friend.
“I grew up listening to him on the radio and watching him on TV. His charm and wit always made me smile.”