TRIBUTES have poured in for the man who got the word Mackem in the dictionary.
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.
Raised in Farringdon, 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 was given the nickname “Mike The Mouth” when he launched his well-known late night talk show on Century FM.
Whilst 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, he managed to get Mackem in the dictionary.
Sister-in-law Adele Currie said: “He was so proud of being a Mackem, he always called Sunderland ‘God’s country’ and getting the word Mackem in the dictionary was one of the things of which he was most proud.”
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.
“He was a really strong North East character with a really strong sense of justice,” said Adele.
“He always fought for the underdog and was a huge supporter of the Miners’ Strike. He is somebody of who Sunderland can be proud.”
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.”