1 9 8 5 – 1 9 9 2 (UK)
1251 x 60 minute episodes
1985 saw Terry Wogan – the King of Television (and Radio) – graduate to an eponymous thrice-weekly live chat show, airing on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays at 7.00 pm.
The new format began ignominiously when the host fell over on the very first episode, although since he was reportedly earning over £350,000 a year (his guests got between £200 and £500 for their appearance), he probably didn’t mind . . .
One of the least fragrant guests was Australian cultural attaché Sir Les Patterson – alias comedian Barry Humphries.
To capture the disgusting look of oral incontinence, Sir Les slapped his fingers in the cheese dip in the hospitality suite and smeared it all over the front of his suit before going on camera.
On another occasion, Edward Heath caused panic among the production team when he was held up in heavy traffic on the way to the show. Ultimately, he just walked into the theatre and straight onto the stage, totally unruffled. But he did admit he wished he still knew the telephone number he’d had as Prime Minister, which he could call to have every traffic light turn green.
Wogan maintained his most disappointed guest was Omar Sharif, who told viewers he was interested in finding a wife. He received a tremendous mailbag of responses . . . but the show’s production team mislaid the mail.
When Wogan took holidays, his stand-ins sometimes floundered, but Selina Scott had no problems with her star guest, Prince Andrew. They flirted. Other memorable guest hosts included David Frost, Kenneth Williams, Joanna Lumley and Sue Lawley.
Memorable guests included Anne Bancroft (who answered only in monosyllables), Nicolas Cage (who threw money at the audience), David Icke (a former snooker presenter who declared himself the son of God during his interview), Ronnie Barker (who announced his retirement live on the show), Chevy Chase (who was just a total arse from start to finish), Vanessa Redgrave (who just got up in the middle of a show and left) and George Best, who was shamefully set up – He was known to be an alcoholic, but allowed to drink in the Green Room before the interview and came on only to be humiliated after politely asking if he was allowed to say “shit” before boasting of his fondness for “screwing”.
Wogan eventually lost favour with the viewing public and by the end of 1991, viewer figures were down. On Friday 3 July 1992, Wogan said goodnight for the final time.
Terry Wogan was knighted in 2005 for services to broadcasting, particularly his tireless work for Children in Need. He died – to much national mourning – in January 2016.