Wogan and the Doctor

It’s been a week of tributes to Terry Wogan, the broadcaster who died on January 31st and who had been a regular presence on British television and radio for well over four decades. His career encompassed two lengthy spells as BBC Radio 2 breakfast show host, his Wogan chat show which ran in an early evening slot on BBC1 from 1985-1992 and Blankety Blank, a hugely popular game show with famously unimpressive prizes which he presented on the same channel from 1979-1983. He also provided sardonic commentary for that festival of high-camp, the Eurovision Song Contest, which for many viewers was the main reason to tune in.

He was perhaps most proud of his association with Children in Need, the BBC’s charity appeal which he first presented in 1980. The telethon, an annual November fixture on BBC1, raised many millions for children’s causes and has had a long association with Doctor Who with stars making guest appearances and, since 2005, previews of forthcoming Christmas episodes and special mini-episodes including 2007’s Time Crash.

It’s fitting, then, that we pay our own mini-tribute to Terry Wogan with this selection of clips and curiosities from a range of shows dating back to 1983 and a special birthday for the Doctor…

Children in Need 1983


It’s November 1983 and The Five Doctors has just been screened on BBC1, forming the centrepiece of the schedule for Children in Need night. Peter Davison, en route to Chicago for a convention as the programme aired, appears in a pre-recorded segment with Wogan and generously donates his coat to the appeal. Doctor Who’s cult appeal in the USA is discussed (“I believe they’re called Whovians…” Peter informs us) and this was evidently a subject of some interest to Wogan, judging by the way he returned to it in other interviews…

Children in Need 1985


Children in Need night two years later, by which time Colin Baker had taken up the controls of the TARDIS, and a parade of former Doctors and their companions make an entrance to be greeted by Wogan and astronomer Patrick Moore (who sets up the occasion nicely by acting suitably impressed when the TARDIS materialises in front of his very eyes). Look out for rare appearances by Michael Craze, Adrienne Hill and Ian Marter as Jon Pertwee and Patrick Troughton get into the spirit by recreating their Three Doctors bickering shtick, often repeated for convention audiences.

Peter Davison and Sandra Dickinson on Wogan


A 1985 appearance on Wogan by Peter Davison and his then-wife Sandra Dickinson who have come on the show to sup champagne and plug forthcoming pantomime Aladdin. It’s most notable for a sweet conversation about their infant daughter Georgia (wonder what became of her?), then just 11 months old, who, as the couple clarify, would not be appearing on stage with them. Doctor Who’s American fans come up again, whom Davison sums up in comments he know he’ll live to regret as ‘always slightly bonkers… in the nicest possible way.’

Colin Baker on Wogan


A bearded Colin Baker appears on Wogan in 1986 to launch the delayed Season 23. Ever the old pro, Wogan introduces the segment by indulging in a bit of sparring with a Mandrel (“What have you done with Doctor Who?” he cries). Colin’s lucky knickers and his appeal to women as the dastardly Paul Meroney in 1970’s hit drama The Brothers are under discussion as, inevitably, is Doctor Who’s cult status in America. Wogan gives a clue as to why he keeps on bringing this up by disclosing that he once sat next to an American fan on a plane. Phew, good to have that one cleared up….

Jon Pertwee on Wogan (Part 1 0f 2)


It’s 1989 on the Wogan show and Jon Pertwee is returning to the role of the Doctor for stage production The Ultimate Adventure. Always aware of his own worth, Pertwee jokes that it’s because ‘the money’s good’ and soon has the audience eating out of his hands with stories of how he put his Doctor Who costume together, how he lost control of a hovercraft during filming and the perils of dealing with demanding audiences at the Glasgow Empire and in Shepherd’s Bush…

Jon Pertwee on Wogan (Part 2 of 2)


More from Jon Pertwee, surely the greatest ever all-round showman to have played the Doctor, in the same interview. If you’ve never witnessed him demonstrate his gift for mimicry and funny voices just watch the hilarious way he recounts the tale of how he impressed Noel Coward early in his career. The audience lap it up and you can sense Wogan’s delight that the interview is going down so well. Chat show gold.

Points of Who


Later in Wogan’s career now, September 2003 to be more precise, and he’s presenting BBC1’s long-running feedback programme Points of View. Thrilled viewers have been in touch to express their delight that Doctor Who will be making its long awaited return in 2005. Terry wonders if perma-tanned antiques show presenter David Dickinson will play the role before introducing a montage of clips.

He may not have been much of a Doctor Who fan himself (I got the feeling from listening to his radio show that crime dramas and literary adaptations were more to his taste) but, as this mini nostalgia fest demonstrates, he was smart enough to recognise the programme’s appeal and was always happy to play along with the fun of having Doctor Who-related items on his shows. Terry Wogan was as much a part of the history of British broadcasting as Doctor Who itself and will be missed by millions.


Jonathan has followed the Doctor's adventures since the late Pertwee era, and he isn't about to stop now. A charity worker from Hull, he enjoys following Hull City's fortunes, listening to Bruce Springsteen and collecting all manner of Doctor Who ephemera. He blogs about Doctor Who merchandise at www.mydoctorwhostuff.co.uk.

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