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We won't see his kind again, says the 'Totty from Splotty' Sir Terry Wogan presents his last show on Radio 2 today. Catherine Evans spoke to his trusty sidekick Lynn Bowles about their life on the airwaves.

MILLIONS of Togs across Britain will be in mourning today as Sir Terry Wogan steps down from the breakfast radio show he has presented since 1972.

Some of Terry's Old Geezers and Girls - which is what the Irish broadcasting veteran fondly calls his army of Radio 2 listeners as his show is perceived to attract an older audience - were even gathering outside the BBC's Western House in London to give the 71-year-old a personal send-off.

Attracting a regular eight million listeners, Sir Terry has presented the Radio 2 morning show Wake Up to Wogan on and off for 37 years, making it the nation's most-listened-to breakfast show.

His wry observations, tendency to go off on rambling esoteric tangents, banter with producers and interaction with his listeners through e-mails and letters - earning them punning pseudonyms such as Edina Cloud, Lucy Lastic, Mick Sturbs or Hellen Bach - has made him a firm favourite with audiences and many regard him as something of a national treasure.

Over the years Wogan's show has included many running jokes involving his newsreader colleagues Alan Dedicoat (nicknamed Deadly after the spoonerism Deadly Alancoat), Fran Godfrey and John Marsh (nicknamed Boggy). Another famous stream is Terry's banter with "the Totty from Splotty" - Lynn Bowles, the Welsh traffic reporter, from Splott, Cardiff. "The first time I met Terry Wogan was when I was about 10 years old, sitting at my parents' breakfast room table, eating my wheatybangs and listening to the radio," said Lynn, pictured right with Sir Terry.

"What he does is what only real radio professionals can - paint a picture for you. He can do it quickly or he can take you down the primrose path.

"The word genius is overused in all realms of life. But genius really is absolutely the term for him. He speaks to something in all of us that is very deep within British people - and he's Irish.

"There won't be his kind again - not in my lifetime anyway."

Wogan's series of Janet and John stories, a pastiche of children's learn-to-read stories littered with double entendres, were recorded onto four CDs.

They and other Tog-related products sold by listeners in aid of Children in Need raised more than pounds 3m.

A long-running campaign by Wogan criticising the British government for levying VAT on these CDs eventually led to a government rebate of pounds 200,000.

Although Wogan will not be quitting radio for good - and already has a new show lined up - his loyal listeners were horrified when their much-loved presenter announced Wake Up to Wogan was coming to an end. Breaking the news in September, Sir Terry said: "This is the hardest thing I have ever done in my broadcasting career, to say goodbye to you in the mornings.

"Most of the listening population have spotted a report that next year I'm going to turn into Chris Evans. And I hate to tell you, but it's true. I was hoping to break it to you, my loyal listener, more gently."

In his typical tongue-incheek style, he continued as if he was ending a relationship with a lover.

"I wanted to be the first to tell you. It's the least I owe you, for endless years, countless hours of morning companionship, friendship, good humour and laughter.

"Your loyalty and support has been a beacon of love in my life," he said.

"I'd rather leave while we're in love, as the song says, while the programme is the most popular on British radio, while we still delight in each other's company."

He wished his successor Chris Evans all the best when he takes over the slot on January 11.

"And so we will, until the end of the year, when my good friend Chris Evans takes over. I know that you'll give him the same love and affection you've always shown to me," he said.

Announcing his new radio project, he added: "And in the new year, I'll be starting a really exciting new show, live from the BBC Radio Studio at Broadcasting House in front of you, as my live audience, presenting the very pinnacle of live music, artists, guests, and of course, you, your mail, your warmth, your wit.

"So, this is not goodbye, it's not even au revoir. As they used to say when I was a lad 'See you later alligator... in a while, crocodile'."

Speaking on Sir Terry's penultimate show yesterday, Evans paid tribute to the man he is replacing.

"Can I just say that everyone in our business wishes you so well and thank you so much for being so brilliant," he said.

"No-one can come close to you.

"I know this is embarrassing for you - I know you don't want to hear it but it's all true."

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KING OF THE AIRWAVES: Broadcasting legend Sir Terry Wogan, pictured in the 1970s, is retiring from presenting Radio 2's breakfast radio show after 37 years
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Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Dec 18, 2009
Words:818
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