IAN HART: Sad start to the year with loss of cultural icons

Ian Hart

Ian Hart

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With the exception of Mystic Meg and a few notable others, none of us can claim to be able to see into the future.

As the year began, very few people were aware that within the first month of 2016, this country would lose not one but two of its cultural icons.

This time last year I doubt anyone would have put David Bowie and Sir Terry Wogan into the same category, but their recent sad passings have shown what a huge contribution they have made to the framework of this nation’s popular culture.

As I wrote a couple of weeks ago, David Bowie’s death, his passing was on the same level of that of the likes of John Lennon, Freddie Mercury and perhaps even Elvis Presley.

Sadly, the news about Sir Terry followed soon after, and again, like Bowie, the media coverage was rightly deserved. The much-loved Irishman was truly a constant in so many of our lives, over decades.

Like many things not apparent until you look back. But as a 1970s child and a 1980s teenager and young adult, both Wogan and Bowie were almost threads running through my life.

Listening to both sets of tributes coming from people of all walks of life right across the nation, I clearly wasn’t alone, and again, with obvious nostalgia that a event like this throws up, the realisation that we are all getting old came. There is almost a romance in reminiscing about things gone by.

Without wishing anyone’s demise there’s probably only a handful of people now who will attract the same kind of coverage at the time of their passing as Mssrs Bowie and Wogan did, and I’m sure anyone reading this will be able to rattle off the half a dozen or so names fairly quickly.

Which brings on a another aspect of these sad occasions, that of timing. The accolades and plaudits bestowed on Sir Terry were all thoroughly deserved but unfortunately meant that the death of Frank Finlay, perhaps one of finest actors this country has ever produced, on Saturday, almost slipped under the radar.

Hopefully, once they deal with the controversy concerning the upcoming Oscars, Finlay will receive a fitting tribute at next month’s Academy Awards ceremony.

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