Monday, 5 June 2017

702 Wogan

First  viewed : Uncertain

I'm  sure  I  must  have  caught  some  of  the  earlier  iterations  of  this  show  that  went  out, usually  on  a  Saturday  night,  in  1982-84   following  the  success  of  his  encounter  with  Larry  Hagman. However  what  I'm  really  talking  about  here  is  the  thrice-weekly  show  that  went  out  at  7pm  from  February  1985  when  Michael  Grade  re-vamped  the  schedules.

Wogan  lasted  half  an  hour  and  was  unashamedly  a  plug  show. Everyone  on  it  was  selling  something. It  normally  got  through  three  guests,  interviewed  separately,  with  a  musical  break  though  these  were  much  reduced  and  restricted  to  established  acts  in  later  years. I  remember  my  mum  being  enthused  by  an  appearance  by  The  Flaming  Mussolinis  early  on.

This  was  Terry  Wogan  at  the  height  of  his  fame  but  crucially  not  at  his  best. As  the  Victoria  Principal  interview  referred  to  a  few  posts  back  proved, he  could  not  be  as  irreverent  as  he  was  on  radio. All  guests  had  to  be  accorded  a  certain  amount  of  deference  and  the  strain  showed. At  the  time  I  thought  the  squirming  in  the  chair  was  part  of  his  act  along  with  the  regrettable  mugging  and  sideways  glances  at  the  camera  but  after  a  thoughtful  interview  he  gave  to  Smash  Hits  I  realised  that  he  was  genuinely  uncomfortable  with  representing  the  Establishment.

He  had  some  breaks  with  guest  presenters   coming  in  like  Derek  Jameson  and  Sue  Lawley  who  disgraced  herself  by  allowing  the  audience  to  mock  Vivienne  Westwood. Bruce  Forsyth  took   that   opportunity  to  re-launch  himself  as  an  all-round  entertainer  after  years  of  crappy  game  shows  and  a  dire  sitcom  on  ITV.

As  the  decade  turned , the  totemic  eighties  shows  - and  this  was  undoubtedly  one  of  them -   started  shedding  viewers. I  didn't  see  the  infamous  George  Best  interview  in  1990  (and  still  haven't  seen  the  whole  version  which  apparently  contained  some  very  libellous  remarks  about  Tommy  Docherty )  but  it  certainly  didn't  do  the  programme  any  favours.

There  was  though  one  huge  spike  in  the  declining  viewing  figures , in  1991 when  David  Icke  called  in. Icke  had  quit  his  successful  TV   presenting  career  in  order  to  become  a  spokesperson  for  the  Green  Party  and  was  at  the  helm  when  they achieved  15%  of  the  vote  in  the  1989  European  elections. He  left  that  position  a  year  or  so  later  and  we  soon  found  out  why. Early  in  1991  he  called  perhaps  the  most  bizarre  press  conference  of  all  time  in  order  to  announce  the  probable  end  of  the  world, his  own  qualification to  be  the chosen  prophet  as  a  son  of  God  and  the  special  properties  of  the  colour  turquoise. The  general  verdict  was  that  he  had  suffered  a  serious  mental  breakdown  and  gone  insane.

His  appearance  on  the  show  promised  to  be  a  real  car  crash,  particularly  after  the  Westwood   experience  and  certainly  the  studio  audience  were  ready  to  turn  it  into  a  bearpit. To   his  credit,  Icke  was  extremely  calm  and  made  his  arguments  very  cogently. Terry wasn't  rude  to  him  and   occasionally   tried  to  pick  at  the  low  hanging  fruit  in  Icke's  rhetoric  with  polite  scepticism  but  mainly  he  just  listened  with  increasingly  visible  discomfort. He  entirely  missed  the  largest  chink  in  Icke's  armour, that  "the  Godhead"  had  told   him  to  move  a  younger  woman  into  his  home  alongside  his  wife,  but  perhaps  that  wasn't  a  suitable  line  of  inquiry  that  early  in  the  evening.

It  wasn't  long  after  that  that  Terry  told  the  Beeb  he  thought  the  show  had  had  its  day  and  he  wanted  to  quit. He  was  persuaded  to  stick  it  out  another  year  before  the  show finally  made  way  for  ill-fated  soap  El  Dorado . Terry  was  moved  to  a  Friday  night  show,  more  focused  on  comedy  with  Frank  Skinner  as  a  sidekick,  but  it  failed  to  pull  enough  punters  away  from  The  Word  and  didn't  last. Terry  retreated  back  to  radio  and  we  soon  fell  in  love  with  him  again.



  1. Sue 'Fuck Me Til I Fart' Lawley. i think Westwood had the last laugh

  2. Two memories of this show. The first is the George Best episode: I was a United history obsessive at a young age, so the chance to see the man regarded as one of our greatest piqued by youthful interest. I think my mam turned it off when it was clear he'd had something of a lengthy session.

    Before that, I'm sure I watched it one time when an older cousin looked after my brother and I for a few hours and she tuned in because the Primitives were promoting their latest single of the time. I don't recall being very impressed then, but a couple of decades later became a fan.