TRIBUTES have poured in for a former Hartlepool teacher who became a celebrity on the airwaves.
Mike “The Mouth” Elliott, 68, lost his long battle with cancer this morning, leaving behind a rich legacy of comedy for which he will always be remembered.
Mike went on to forge a hugely successful career in the entertainment industry as an actor in films such as Billy Elliot, as a controversial radio phone-in host, stand up comedian and television presenter.
The outspoken comic, a former English teacher at Dyke House School, Hartlepool, was given the nickname “Mike The Mouth” when he launched his well-known late night talk show on Century FM.
While appearing on BBC show Balderdash and Piffle, in which the writers of the dictionary asked the public for help in finding the origins of words and phrases, Mike, who was raised in Sunderland, managed to get Mackem in the dictionary.
Mike, who is married to Lisa, passed away in his sleep in hospital after an 18-month battle with oesophageal cancer.
Though he lived his later years in Tynemouth, his passion for his home town never waned.
Sister-in-law Adele Currie said: “He was a really strong North East character with a really strong sense of justice.
“He always fought for the underdog and was a huge supporter of the Miners’ Strike.”
Mike became such a North East figure that there are few regional shows he hasn’t appeared in. His acting talents saw him become a familiar face in Catherine Cookson adaptations, Crocodile Shoes, Byker Grove, Spender and many Tyne Tees Television shows.
As well as appearing as boxing trainer George Watson in the film Billy Elliot, he was a taxi driver in the 2005 film Goal and its 2009 sequel Goal! 3.
His outspoken views on radio won him a legion of fans.
Simon Grundy from Sun FM remembers Mike’s time on the Sunderland station fondly.
“He was with us from 2003 to 2006,” said Simon. “He had a national phone in show that was broadcast from Sunderland and we were very proud of that.
“He had this reputation on the radio and came across as a shock Jock, but in real life he was a lovely, gentle giant.
“They don’t make broadcasters like that anymore. Stations are scared to push the envelope, but Mike did just that. He stood out.”
Adele said: “He made a such an impact in the North East and was well known to all the North East celebrities: Ant and Dec, Tim Healy and Denise Welch. But most of all he was an amazing family member and father to his daughter, Michi, 23.”
Hartlepool DJ Paul “Goffy” Gough was among those to pay their tribute to Mike.
“We worked together when Century was at its peak. I was on breakfast, when he was on night time. He would be all bolshy on air, but in person he had loads of warmth, he would be the first one to give you a cuddle. He was a gentle giant. He really was a man of the people.
“I loved him in Billy Elliot, he was a great actor, a great stand up comedian, a fantastic broadcaster, he had so much to give. But the biggest thing of all was that he was loved. He made every caller feel like a million dollars and had a great connection with people.”