Broadcasting legend Sir Terry Wogan has passed away, aged 77.

The influential TV and radio host has had a career spanning five decades – dedicating 34 years to charity telethon Children in Need, and commentating on the Eurovision Song Contest for 37 years, as well as fronting shows including Blankety Blank and Wogan.

A statement from his family confirmed: Sir Terry Wogan died today after a short but brave battle with cancer.

“He passed away surrounded by his family.

“While we understand he will be missed by many, the family ask that their privacy is respected at this time.”

BBC director general Tony Hall paid tribute, saying: “Terry truly was a national treasure.”

The host was responsible for boosting the profile of the Eurovision Song Contest, which he first commentated in 1971, with his unique wit and cynicism.

He retired from hosting the camp contest in 2008, handing the reins to current host Graham Norton.

Ever the cynic, Wogan had characteristically sharp words for 2014’s drag queen winner Conchita Wurst.

He said: “[Graham Norton] made it his own from year one – although I’m bound to say that the Bearded Lady who won this year, reducing Graham to tears, might have had a slightly different effect on me.

“I’ve always seen the Eurovision as a sometimes foolish farce, but not as a freak show.”

Norton was one of many to pay tribute to Sir Terry, writing: “He made it seem effortless and for a young boy in Ireland he made it seem possible.

“RIP Sir Terry Wogan. I’ll raise a glass during song 9.”

Helen Boaden, the director of BBC Radio, said: “Sir Terry was a radio legend. For decades, he gave great pleasure to radio listeners with his wit, warmth and inimitable humour.

“He was an extraordinary broadcaster but also incredibly good fun, and will be sorely missed.”