Sir Terry Wogan: The warm face of Children in Need for 35 years - and Pudsey’s connection to West Yorkshire

Sir Terry Wogan with Pudsey Bear in Leeds in 2008. Picture: Ross Parry

Sir Terry Wogan with Pudsey Bear in Leeds in 2008. Picture: Ross Parry

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FOR more than three decades, his warm and gentle style helped to raise hundreds of millions of pounds for charity.

Despite his advancing years Sir Terry Wogan fronted the gruelling six-and-a-half hour telethon Children in Need for 35 years alongside an ever-changing supporting cast of household stars.

His ever-present record only ended in November, when surgery on his back saw him drop out at the last minute on the advice of doctors, to be replaced by Dermot O’Leary.

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Sir Terry was a trustee of the Children in Need charity for many years, before becoming its life president in November 2010.

Children in Need’s chief executive David Ramsden said: “Sir Terry Wogan has been at the heart of the charity for over 30 years raising millions to change the lives of children.

“We have lost a wonderful friend and we will miss him so much. Our thoughts are with his family at this sad time.”

In 2008, Sir Terry joined the Children in Need mascot Pudsey Bear in Leeds for a fundraising gala arranged by Yorkshire-based supermarket Asda.

Pudsey was named after the Leeds town where his creator, Joanna Lane, who worked in the BBC’s design department, came from.

Ms Lane, who created the logo in 1985, grew up in Pudsey and her grandfather Irvine Ball was borough councillor between 1936 and 1955 and mayor of the town in 1950.

Choosing the name was a tribute to the community work he did, helping Pudsey Musical Festival, Pudsey United Chorus and the Pudsey Committee for Welfare of the Blind.

Sir Terry hosted the first Children in Need appeal in 1980, and Pudsey, his lovable sidekick, was introduced five years later.

Many of the stars who hosted the show alongside Sir Terry have paid tribute.

Tess Daly said: “So so sad at the news Sir Terry has passed away.He was the funniest, kindest man, it was a huge privilege to work with him and a joy to know him.

“Terry was a true gentleman on and off camera. He never stopped working tirelessly for charity. A legend is lost. My thoughts are with his family.”

O’Leary tweeted on Sunday: “Sir Terry. Just the most warm hearted, generous, funny, clever, life affirming man. Part of the foundations of @BBCRadio2 so very sad.”

Gaby Roslin, who co-presented Children in Need alongside Sir Terry for more than a decade, tweeted: “No no no! In total shock. Goodbye my cheeky chum. Forever in our hearts.”

What would become Sir Terry’s final show as a presenter in 2014 saw it raise a then record total of more than £32 million. The star-studded marathon effort featured One Direction, Cheryl Fernandez-Versini and the cast of EastEnders.

He presented alongside a younger generation of BBC stars including Tess Daly, Nick Grimshaw, Fearne Cotton and Rochelle Humes from the pop group The Saturdays.

Grimshaw said: “So sad to hear about Sir Terry, what a man! Funny, sharp, warm, inspiring and so much fun to be around. We’ll miss him. rest in peace.”

Humes added: “Such a sad day today. The loss of such a legend...had the pleasure of being around such a warm welcoming person. Such a inspiration..”

But Children in Need was not the only television institution intrinsically linked to the star.

He helmed the BBC’s Eurovision coverage from 1973 to 2008 and became known for his cutting commentary and deadpan one-liners.

He finally got a chance to present the programme proper in 1998, taking to the stage alongside Ulrika Jonsson in Birmingham after the UK’s Katrina And The Waves won Eurovision the previous year in Dublin.

He eventually hung up his microphone after Andy Abraham’s song Even If came 25th ten years later, upset at the tactical voting which has become synonymous with the show.

He was replaced by another cutting Irishman and BBC Radio 2 presenter, Graham Norton.

A Eurovision spokesman said: “We are deeply saddened by the passing of Terry Wogan. He was without doubt the most remarkable Eurovision commentator in history.”

Norton added: “He made it seem effortless and for a young boy in Ireland he made it seem possible. RIP Sir Terry Wogan. I’ll raise a glass during song 9.”

Last year Sir Terry returned to the subject and picked his favourite tracks from decades of duff tunes and nul points for a special preview show on the station.

The UK has suffered years of disappointment and occasional ridicule with its entries for the competition.

Last year’s UK entry, duo Electro Velvet, came 24th in Vienna with their song Still In Love With You.

A lack of success in recent years saw former shop assistant Molly Smitten-Downes placing a lowly 17th, Bonnie Tyler finishing 19th and crooner Engelbert Humperdinck coming second to last. The UK also endured a string of failures in previous years with Javine Hylton, Abraham, Jade Ewen and boyband Blue.

Abraham said: “RIP Sir Terry Wogan. He was very supportive of me on @Eurovision 2008. Condolences to his family.”

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