Farewell Janet and John

All right. Look, don’t watch the whole thing. Just the first few seconds, until he sits down.

I kind of love this. It’s Nicholas Cage back when he was young and edgy, working with the Coen Brothers and David Lynch and sporting that awful nasal voice he had in Peggy Sue Got Married. It predates Nicholas Cage the action hero (John Woo did his best stuff in Hong Kong, but was there ever a more quintessentially 90s movie than Face/Off?) and Nicholas Cage the safe romantic lead (City of Angels) and, most notoriously, Nicholas Cage the questionable casting choice (Captain Corelli’s Mandolin / Ghost Rider / The Wicker Man, although how that movie was greenlit is one of the biggest mysteries of Hollywood, along with the declining trajectory of Robert De Niro’s career and how Shia LaBeouf got to star in anything, ever).

Anyway. Never mind shirtless Nick. Pay attention to the interviewer. For those of you reading this in foreign climes who don’t recognise him, his name is – was, I am forced to correct, with something of a lump in my throat – Terry Wogan, and he’s been around longer than I can remember. In our house, Wogan was much a part of the furniture as the full length mirror that hung in the hall or the set of nesting tables that are now cluttering up my lounge. He was there every morning, as he was in thousands of households all tuned to Radio 2 and the sounds of the breakfast programme he hosted, with its innuendo and quirkiness and brilliant listener correspondence. His chatshow, Wogan, was notorious for giving us a drunken George Best, a deluded David Icke and an uncooperative David Bowie (whom Wogan later admitted he wanted to thump). And it was his acidic commentary that made Eurovision that little more bearable. “Who knows what hellish future lies ahead?” he quipped at the beginning of the 2007 show, before adding “Actually, I do. I’ve seen the rehearsals.”

And now he’s moved on, another victim of the disease that takes so many, and I feel like another part of my childhood is over. I can’t argue that 77 is a good innings, and I think you only really start to notice these things as you get older and more of the people you know are struck down, but I’ve never known the start of a year to be so depressing. Go home, 2016. You’re drunk.

Here’s where we’re going with this: every year Wogan co-hosted Children In Need, a telethon that continues without him, aimed at raising both awareness of and funds to aid underprivileged and disadvantaged children. It’s one of the BBC’s flagship events (another is Comic Relief, which takes place every second March). Children In Need usually features dancing newsreaders, lip-synching boy bands and a great many of those tearful appeals, accompanied by slow motion black-and-white-footage of upset children, with elegiac piano music morphing into ‘Fix You’.


If this seems like it’s taking the piss a bit, I should point out that Children In Need has always been quite good at showcasing Doctor Who. The Tenth Doctor had his first scene with Rose in the rather dreary ‘Born Again‘, before locking horns some years later with Peter Davison in the rather more memorable ‘Time Crash’. Off the TARDIS set, actors have frequently popped into the studio to chat with Wogan, who has become as synonymous with Children In Need as Lenny Henry has with Comic Relief or Peter Capaldi has with unnecessary eyebrow gags.

Anyway. here’s something I dug up from 1985: a moment Wogan opened the door of the TARDIS and produced a fanboy’s wet dream. It deserves to be seen again, because it’s about the best Who-themed tribute I could find for a man who was such a big part of my childhood, and who will be missed, even if he hadn’t actually done much in years.

I’d like to say that this will be the only post you read today that features both Patrick Troughton arguing with Jon Pertwee and Nicholas Cage doing a somersault, but I’d be lying…

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