A DJ leaves his morning show. The nation mourns. When Terry Wogan presented his last morning Radio 2 show this week (he’ll be back in another next year), it was an event which was marked in the BBC news throughout the day. There was a sombre, formal farewell message from the radio knight himself. Emotional messages from adoring listeners were read out. It was, we were repeatedly told, the end of an era.
“Pull yourself together now – he’s not dead,” the DJ following Wogan said after the last great goodbye. He had a point. There was a weird lack of proportion to the reactions to this small media event.
An age thing was happening. What Wogan offered on his show was a platform for those in their 50s, 60s and 70s – the constituency he called TOGS, Terry’s Old Gals and Geezers. They are new kind of oldster – jauntier, more ironic and self-mocking than old folk used to be. They make risqué jokes about HRT, medical problems and senior moments. Not so long ago they were hippies, quite radical in their way. Now – they can hardly believe it themselves – they are Radio 2 listeners.
There are millions of these new oldsters out there and, because the media plays little attention to them, Wogan became am an important voice for them, a reminder that a spirit of subversiveness was still as alive in them as it is in him.
Behind the jokes and the affection surrounding Wogan’s departure, another powerful emotion could occasionally be sensed. It was rage. It was that anger which lies behind the Woganites’ widespread distrust of why Chris Evans, who will take over the show. At 43, he is simply too bloody young.
When Evans starts work on the morning show in January, the Daily Mail, the natural home of the new oldsters, will be on his case every day, longing for him to do something – a swearword, an inappropriate joke, a lack of respect to a guest – which will disgrace the hallowed memory of Sir Terry.
Then gradually, the Evansites will starting getting older themselves, and the process will start all over again.