Sir Terry Wogan "I'd rather leave while I'm in love"
The nation's favourite DJ, Sir Terry Wogan, has announced to his eight million listeners that he is stepping down from his BBC Radio 2 breakfast show.
After two stints, totalling 27 years, the broadcasting veteran has chosen to give up early mornings at the end of 2009.
He will continue on Radio 2 with a brand new weekend radio programme launching early next year.
As well as presenting Wake Up to Wogan, Terry has had a varied career on the BBC.
His presenting of the annual Children in Need BBC charity fundraising event and the Eurovision Song Contest, among numerous other credits, has made him a national institution.
The broadcaster was made an honorary officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in 1997, and then awarded an Honorary Knighthood in 2005, which was made substantive later that year when Sir Terry became a British citizen.
When once asked about the secret of his success, he quipped: "I put it all down to clean living and plenty of roughage."
Born in Limerick in 1938, Sir Terry went into banking after college before switching careers five years later to join Ireland's national Radio Eireann as a newsreader and announcer.
"I didn't have a burning ambition to be a DJ," he said. "I didn't have a burning ambition to be anything. My father always said I was lazy and he was right."
He quickly moved into light entertainment as a disc jockey and host of Irish TV quiz and variety shows before joining BBC radio to host Midday Spin.
Sir Terry was among the first DJs on Radio 1 when the station started in 1967 and took on an additional show on Radio 2 in 1969.
The golf-mad father-of-three took over the morning show on Radio 2 in April 1972.
Sir Terry hosts the annual Children In Need appeal
He went on to win a string of awards including the Variety Club Award for Radio Personality Of The Year in 1974.
At the same time, he was breaking into television, hosting Come Dancing for five years before being given his own prime time game show - Blankety Blank.
"That was the most fun I ever had in television," he said later. "I could walk out, say what I liked, roam around the stage with several guests witty enough to react."
His self-titled chat show began in 1982, moving around the schedules for several years before settling down to a thrice-weekly 7pm slot - prompting Sir Terry to leave his Radio 2 show for the first time.
Over the next seven years, he interviewed everyone from members of the Royal Family to the Hollywood A-list.
Comedian Ronnie Barker announced his retirement on the show in 1988, while other newsworthy moments included a drunken, swearing George Best and David Icke announcing he was a "son of the Godhead".
The popularity and profile of the genial host led to him being voted TV personality of the year 10 times by TV Times magazine readers.
The chat show ended in 1992, to be replaced by the short-lived Spanish soap Eldorado, and Sir Terry returned to Radio 2 to host Wake Up To Wogan.
The show features his own quirky take on the world and the often surreal input of his audience, whom he dubbed TOGs, or Terry's Old Geezers or Gals.
Their enthusiasm has spread to a host of fan memorabilia including sweatshirts with the legend: "Do I come here often?"
Sir Terry's contribution has been one of the key factors in the rise of Radio 2, once considered an unfashionable station for older listeners.
He has won numerous awards, including the 1994 Sony award for best breakfast show, and listeners are said to include Her Majesty the Queen.
The star puts his popularity down to the atmosphere he creates in his relaxed, discursive early morning show.
"I always had a clear idea of who the audience was and what I ought to be doing to get them to identify with me, " he told the Daily Express in 2006.
"I can't stand it when presenters read out sycophantic letters about themselves. I would never read out a letter saying, 'love your show'. That's not how friends are.
"Friends are mutually abusive."
His commitment to BBC Children In Need began in 1978 when he presented a five-minute appeal on Christmas Day, which was repeated in 1979.
The idea blossomed into an evening of live TV in 1980, which Sir Terry has hosted ever since.
His wry commentary on the Eurovision Song Contest, particularly during the voting, was the only reason some UK viewers tuned in to the annual event between 1980 and 2008.
Sir Terry attracts more than eight million listeners
A typically sarcastic comment came in 1998: "Twelve points from Slovakia to Malta really restores your faith in the chaos theory, doesn't it?"
After calling time on his Eurovision role last year, he told the BBC: "There are exits and entrances and timing is very important. Leave while you're in love."
He has hosted Lunchtime With Wogan, Come Dancing, Celebrity Squares, New Faces and Blankety Blank.
Other presenting roles include Wogan's Island, Do The Right Thing, Auntie's Bloomers, Auntie's Sporting Bloomers and the National Lottery Live.
In 2005, Sir Terry was awarded Radio Broadcaster of the Year at the Broadcasting Press Guild awards.
In 2007, he was made a Deputy Lieutenant of Buckinghamshire and gained the title of Ultimate Icon to celebrate Radio 2's 40th birthday.
He leaves the breakfast show on a high - it is the most listened-to programme in the UK - and Sir Terry said the decision was "the hardest thing I've ever had to do in my professional life".
"But you shouldn't go on for ever. You should know when it's time to make for the exit."
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