Sir Terry's Depressing Irish Journey Comes to a Conclusion

Wogan's Atheism Put On the Spot




A TV Programme Review of BBC One Television's Terry Wogan's Ireland as shown in the UK on the consecutive Sundays of January 23rd and January 30th, 2011.


T erry Wogan's Ireland' came to BBC TV One screens in late January, 2011. The newly-retired long-term BBC Radio 2 presenter is a long-time favourite of many British listeners and viewers but this two part (a total of two hours) programme will almost certainly have surprised, and subsequently, disappointed many of his firmest fans.

Maybe we were never going to get an atmosphere pitched somewhere between Darby O'Gill and the Little People and Finian's Rainbow with Sir Terry (the eternal background jester of the Eurovision Song Contest) in highly-amusing attendance, but the gloom, sarcasm, depression and the lack of a well-ordered and smooth script were occasionally hard to take.


It is probably hard to know what one might have expected from Sir Terry but the overall feeling, probably, was that we would have a jovial, good-natured and frequently highly amusing look at Irish life splashed with copious amounts of sumptuous scenery and many a rib-tickling anecdote from Wogan's earlier life in the emerald isle. Anecdotes there were, although rather few and many of these were somewhat sarcastic in nature. Fact is, this was a highly disappointing two part programme which raises questions about the approach which was employed.


Maybe we were never going to get an atmosphere pitched somewhere between Darby O'Gill and the Little People and Finian's Rainbow with Sir Terry (the eternal background jester of the Eurovision Song Contest) in highly-amusing attendance, but the gloom, sarcasm, depression and the lack of a well-ordered and smooth script were occasionally hard to take. Evidently somebody had come up with the rather foolish idea that Wogan - never a political commentator nor a historian - should touch on almost every political event affecting Ireland of the last few hundred years. Comments about such matters as the Battle of the Boyne and Bloody Sunday duly appeared but seemed distinctly out of place coming from a radio and TV-based humourist with no pedigree in these difficult political areas; the inevitable result were comments which would have quickly divided the audience, to say nothing of evidence of a level of knowledge which seemed insubstantial and tabloidistic. One example appeared in the second programme. Wogan rightly pointed out that Protestants call Londonderry by its full correct name, but that Roman Catholics insist on referring to it as 'Derry.' Sir Terry pointed out how people of Northern Ireland quickly establish the political/religious affiliations of those whom they meet by how they pronounce that town's name. Annoyingly, thereafter the preferred nationalistic mode of 'Derry' was consistently used: this was not being even-handed and seemed clumsy. Exactly the same thing now usually happens on the BBC News; it is liberal, politically-correct and somewhat tamely-appeasing.

The person who watched these programmes with me is a long-term Wogan fan who was distinctly unimpressed . Eventually she commented, "Why is he being so political? This is truly awful! Come on Terry, more humour needed!" For sure, Sir Terry was not well-advised to venture into areas where angels fear to tread, surely far better to have ignored all such divisive areas and present a warm, humorous, anecdotal and scenic sketch of a beautiful island often containing fascinating people. Unfortunately, some one had decided that such would not be the approach.


The first programme, which had commenced with rather too many anti-English jibes - the English made you the famous and wealthy man that you are, Sir Terry! - later had Sir Terry visiting his old school in Ireland. Although he obviously did well at school he also hated the whole experience of having Roman Catholic priests instilling the discipline. He tells us that his school experiences gave him "no great love for religion or the church." Yet it is surely undeniable that these experiences helped shape a very, very successful man - it just seemed very sad that Wogan decided that little or no credit at all should be afforded to his teachers. Here the typical modern and liberal attitude that all discipline is bad was very much in evidence even though the programme itself served as a most convincing reminder that such discipline frequently breeds exceptionally able individuals. Of course, we cannot get away from the fact that this man, generally very likeable that he is, has been a BBC employee for many years and the BBC has become one of the great bastions of permissive liberalism.

The more political approach did not work so it was down to the script to rescue the situation; this, however, was oddly vacuous...


Both programmes gave a few glimpses of some stunning Irish scenery, but never enough. The second programme briefly featured Sir Terry being interviewed on Irish television, Interestingly, when asked about his view of the meaning of life, he appeared completely nonplussed and simply referred to his own fine wife and family, also to his own happiness and success. Very nice, but it seemed plain that Sir Terry ducked the obvious philosophical/spiritual import of his questioner. Maybe he believes that life has no essential meaning. Not surprising, then, that the normally genial Irish humourist went on to confirm his atheism. Of course, it is no good asking atheists their view of the meaning of life; as an experienced Christian Apologetics writer, I have asked several non-believers the very same question over the years. The perplexed expression which the question brought to Sir Terry's face is pretty much a typical reaction. Why so? Because - at least intellectually - atheists do not believe that life has any meaning save survival of the fittest, yet they must deny this intellectual approach every single day of their adult lives, for they will go on loving their parents, spouses, children and grandchildren as though life has the most ultimate and transcending spiritual meaning, yet their atheism means that this must all be denied, sacrificed on the altar of materialistic Darwinist atheism.


No doubt Sir Terry will go on being a generally amusing and pleasant personality but bearing in mind that over 70% of the British still insist that Christianity remains a vital influence in their lives, this brief two part series may well have caused him to lose some ground in the public's affection. Purely as a television special, Terry Wogan's Ireland did not succeed because the normally ready humour of the host seemed stifled by the strange decision that, on this occasion, he should be more political. That did not work so it was then down to the script to rescue the situation; this, however, was oddly vacuous. All in all, a pity.
UK Apologetics TV Review. February 3rd, 2011.


UK APOLOGETICS