The newspapers are having a field day

Terry Wogan
Photo by Evening Standard/Getty Images

Few broadcasters have left as indelible a mark on the hearts and minds of the British public as Sir Terry Wogan. A consummate professional, Wogan’s wit, warmth, and engaging personality endeared him to audiences throughout his long and successful career in radio and television. As host of the Radio 2 breakfast show, Wogan became a morning companion to millions, while his television work, including hosting the Eurovision Song Contest and his own chat show, ‘Wogan’, further cemented his status as a national treasure. Beyond the microphone and camera, Terry Wogan also kept personal diaries, offering a more intimate glimpse into the thoughts and experiences of this beloved broadcaster. He wrote this entry in 2002, days after the death of Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother.

The Diary Entry

2 April 2002 

The newspapers, the rabidly anti-BBC Daily Mail in particular, are having a field day. Prince Charles has pointedly recorded his tribute to his beloved grandmother with ITV, snubbing the BBC. This is grist to the Mail, and all of the rest of the print media, who would love to kick television and radio, and the BBC in particular, to death. It appears that the Prince and his mother, the Queen, have been deeply offended by the BBC’s coverage of the Queen Mother’s death. (Not true – it was just ITV’s turn.) They apparently echo the Daily Mail’s view that her sad passing was not accorded sufficient time or dignity. The last straw appears to have been Peter Sissons’ choice of tie colour: red. He says he was told not to wear black. Hanging, drawing and quartering is not good enough for him. Let him rot in the Tower! Lorraine Heggessey, Controller of BBC1, had better reserve a place on the nearest tumbril while she’s at it – it was her decision to return to normal programming after two hours. And while the print media foam at the mouth, it appears that there were 100 phone calls of complaint to BBC TV about their coverage of events. And 700 more complaining that the evening schedule of programmes had been changed . . . 

The newspapers have been preparing for years: the tributes to the Queen Mother, the special editions, with their photographs of the lady from her birth, the nostalgic supplements of the last 100 years, all will go on for some days yet, right up to the final tribute of her funeral. So, who’s got it right, the papers or Lorraine Heggessey? There is a great sadness, I sense, at the passing of a great queen; nobody in British life was held in greater affection or esteem. But it’s nothing like the outpouring of real grief that I remember gripping the nation at Diana’s sudden tragic death. We still have to wait for the funeral, but I will be surprised if the Queen Mother’s cortège brings weeping crowds to the streets in their thousands, as did Princess Diana’s.

Some time ago, I was told that the Queen Mother had planned the route that her funeral would take. She had one unshakeable proviso: ‘The procession must not pass that awful man’s store…’

Further Reading

A selection of Terry’s diary entries are scattered throughout his autobiography, Mustn’t Grumble, published in 2006.

Diary entry excerpted from Mustn’t Grumble by Terry Wogan. Copyright © Terry Wogan 2006. Orion Publishing Group Limited 2006. Reproduced with permission of the Licensor through PLSclear

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