STARS came together to remember a shining light of the entertainment industry.
Mike “The Mouth” Elliott, who lost his battle with cancer last month, made a colourful impression across the board, from the picket lines of the Miners’ Strike to the silver screen in films such as Billy Elliot.
Musicians, actors and sportsmen, including former NUFC player Malcolm Macdonald, and Billy Mitchell and Ray Laidlaw from folk rock band Lindisfarne, were among those who gathered at the Sunderland star’s funeral today.
David Hopper, general secretary of the Durham Miners’ Association, also paid a moving tribute to the 68-year-old, while the Monkwearmouth Lodge banner was brought along to the service, making Mike the only non-miner to be afforded such a tribute.
The Durham Miners’ Association Brass Band was also on hand to pay a musical tribute to the showman, who famously appeared as boxing trainer George Watson in hit film Billy Elliot.
Mourners packed St Augustin’s Church, in North Shields, where Mike was described as “a person you’ll never forget, even if you wanted to” and a “great socialist and socialiser.”
A champion of workers’ rights, Mike, known affectionately as Mick, was an honorary member of the Durham Miners’ Association, an honour only granted to a rare few.
He often used his successful career in the entertainment industry as a platform to fly the flag for the underdog, devoting his spare time to supporting trade unions.
During the many decades of his career, Mike became a well-known and popular figure in the industry, as a singer, a stand up comedian, an actor and broadcaster.
One of his most famous roles was as an outspoken presenter on Century Radio where he earned the nickname “Mike the Mouth.” Mourners heard how Mike was “a controversial radio host. But every time he got in trouble with the radio stations, there was always one group who supported him and that was the listeners.”
Mike, who appeared in TV shows including Catherine Cookson adaptations, Crocodile Shoes and Byker Grove, was also a proud Mackem.
Raised in Farringdon, he went on to get the word Mackem in the dictionary, which his family say was one of his proudest achievements.
Mike lived his later years in Tynemouth with wife Lisa and daughter Michi, 23.
He died on December 23 in hospital after an 18-month battle with oesophageal cancer.