After 27 years, Sir Terry Wogan has left the building
But a tearful Sir Terry Wogan signed off his breakfast show for the final time yesterday morning and told his loyal army of TOGs (Terry's Old Geezers/Gals): "I'm going to miss you."
The veteran presenter, who received a special message from the Prime Minister during the show, said his 27 years on the Radio 2 morning show had "not only been a pleasure but a privilege".
Sir Terry was not alone in feeling weepy. Many fans from his legion of TOGs were in tears as they gathered outside BBC studios in London.
Choking back emotion, Sir Terry said: "This is the day I've been dreading – the inevitable morning when you and I come to the parting of the ways – the last Wake Up to Wogan."
As he bade a fond farewell, the 71-year-old added: "It's always been a source of enormous pride to me that you come together in my name; that you're proud to call yourselves my listeners; that you think of me as a friend."
During the show, he received gifts including a model Routemaster London bus from his team, and was visited by fellow presenter Sarah Kennedy for an on-air goodbye. She jokingly gave him a cabbage soup diet sheet.
Sir Terry, who first presented the Radio 2 breakfast slot in 1972 and returned to the show after a ten-year break in 1993, was taking no chances to ensure he was prepared for the final show.
The presenter stayed across the road from the BBC's Broadcasting House instead of commuting from Buckinghamshire to avoid any delays from snow yesterday morning.
Irish-born Sir Terry was surprised by the recorded message from Gordon Brown, which was played after the 8am news bulletin.
The PM said: "Terry, five decades at the very top of British broadcasting is a towering, indeed an unparalleled, achievement.
"From Wogan to Eurovision to Children in Need, you've shaped the popular imagination of generation after generation of British viewers and listeners.
"And as you move on from Wake Up to Wogan, I wanted to let you know how very dearly you'll be missed, how delighted we all are you'll be returning with another venture before too long."
But after Sir Terry read out one of his notoriously smutty "Janet & John" stories later in the programme, he noted: "If the PM's listening to this, he'll want to change his opinion."
The veteran broadcaster announced he was leaving the show – the UK's biggest breakfast programme – in September, saying it was the "right time" to go.
He will be replaced by Radio 2's drivetime host Chris Evans, a one-time Radio 1 and Virgin Radio early-morning rival, but will return with a new Sunday show in February.
Sir Terry admitted it would be a wrench to leave his devoted audience and paid tribute to their loyalty: "You've allowed me to share your lives with you. When you tell me how important I've been in your lives, it's very moving. You've been every bit as important in mine.
"Now, I'm not going to pretend that this is not a sad day. You can probably hear it in my voice. I'm going to miss the laughter, the fun of our mornings together. So I'm going to miss you – until we're together again in February."
The presenter packed his show with many records he has loved and championed over the years – such as Katie Melua's Closest Thing to Crazy and Eva Cassidy's Somewhere Over the Rainbow – as well as those which summed up his sadness at leaving.
"We make no apology for the music perhaps being a bit slower and sentimental. There's a reason for it – can't quite work it out," he said.
Evans praised the outgoing star yesterday. He wrote on his blog: "Awwww, well there he goes … with the class and style that has become Mr Terry Wogan of Radioland. The perfect send-off."
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