He was the face, and voice, of the North East. For more than four decades, Mike Neville brought the news of the day to viewers across the region. In doing so, he became a friend to thousands.
He died on Wednesday 6th September at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Gateshead after a short battle with cancer.
Mike was born in Willington Quay, North Tyneside, on 17th Oct in 1936. He was a pupil at Anderson Potter Infant and Junior School, then Stephenson Memorial Secondary Modern in Howdon. He left school at 15 before completing his two years’ National Service in the 1950s. He married his wife Pam in 1962.
Mike described himself as 'a true Geordie'; born a stone's throw from the River Tyne. Mike started his career, not in the studio, but on the stage. The young actor made the move to Tyne Tees in 1962, just three years after the station went on air, working first as a continuity announcer.
Mike left Tyne Tees to join the BBC in Newcastle two years later, becoming the face of the nightly news programme, Look North. By now, North East viewers had taken Mike to their hearts, and he also enjoyed national fame, appearing on the magazine show Nationwide. Even so, Mike chose not to make a permanent move to London, remaining instead in the region he knew and loved.
In 1996, Mike left the BBC and returned to where his broadcasting career had begun, at Tyne Tees Television.
It was during these years that Mike conducted some of his most memorable interviews, including one with author Dame Catherine Cookson, to mark her 90th birthday.
For broadcaster Nicholas Owen, Mike Neville was simply 'the best in the business'. The pair worked together in the 1980s and were reunited on screen for this Tyne Tees documentary in 2002.
The North East certainly treasured the star in its midst. Mike's likeness appeared not only on TV screens but in other, less obvious places - in a mural on the Tyne and Wear Metro and in model form, for a parade to mark the millennium. Mike's iconic status meant he was showered with awards and recognition, both during his career - and in retirement.
In 1990 Mike was presented with an MBE for his services to broadcasting. He received an honorary doctorate from Northumbria University and was granted the Freedom of Gateshead.
Of course, the key to Mike's success throughout was his relationship with the North East public.
In turn, they delighted in Mike's on- and off-screen friendship with Tyne Tees weatherman Bob Johnson.
Whether raising a laugh with Bob or delivering the most serious of news stories, Mike Neville was a constant, entertaining and reassuring presence to his legion of fans.
Mike was simply a broadcasting legend.
Recently asked to front a series of stories on the UK’s aging population which had the working title ‘80 is the new 60’, he quipped: ‘Or in my case, 80 is the new 90!’.
Turning down our invitation to face what he called the new ‘high definition cameras’, he told us “I’m enjoying retirement so much, I honestly don’t feel I’m quite ready for a comeback!”