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Essex: Former Radio 1 DJ Mike Smith dies

PUBLISHED: 19:49 02 August 2014 | UPDATED: 11:25 03 August 2014

Mike Smith

Mike Smith

Friends and former colleagues of BBC Radio 1 presenter Mike Smith have described their “heartbreak” after the 59-year-old died in hospital.

Breakfast Show alumni including Noel Edmonds, Mike Read and Simon Mayo joined others from the world of entertainment in mourning Smith’s death.

Essex-born Smith, who started his career at Chelmsford hospital radio and has family in Ipswich, was married to fellow television personality Sarah Greene. He died in hospital on Friday from complications connected to his recent major heart surgery.

The couple, who married in 1989 and were childless, lived in London.

Edmonds, a long-term friend of the couple, said in a statement: “I am totally stunned and heartbroken for Sarah and his family.

“Mike introduced me to motor racing and I introduced him to radio.

“He was so much more than simply a presenter. Mike was that rare individual - the consummate broadcaster in an era when professionalism, dedication and hard work were truly valued.

“I am typing this through the tears. I wish I had told him more forcefully and frequently how much I admired his talent and valued his support.”

Mayo, who took on the Breakfast Show when Smith left in 1988, wrote on Twitter: “Shocked to hear of Mike Smith’s death today. Condolences to Sarah and all his family.

“When we joined Radio 1 in 86, he was the guy who had it all. His breakfast show was a shiny, sparkly thing, a must-listen.”

A BBC spokesman said: “We are saddened to hear of Mike’s passing. he was a talented presenter and a brilliant Radio 1 Breakfast Show host, and our thoughts are with his family.”

Smith’s career began at hospital radio before joining BBC Radio 1 in 1975.

In 1983, Smith took over the weekday lunchtime show and he took on the Breakfast Show in 1986, succeeding Mike Read.

Smith was a key figure in the early years of Comic Relief but largely stayed away from the limelight after a helicopter crash which injured both himself and Ms Greene in 1988.

The qualified pilot and his then-girlfriend Ms Greene were injured when the helicopter he was piloting crashed in Gloucestershire.

Both passengers survived, although Ms Greene broke both legs and an arm, and Smith suffered a broken back and ankle.

The Air Accidents Investigation Branch concluded that “... examination of the helicopter (including flight control, fuel, engine control, dynamic systems and the engine itself) revealed no failure or unserviceability that could have resulted in a loss of rotor speed”.

Smith proposed to Ms Greene just weeks later and they were married the following year.

A few fleeting appearances on BBC television shows aside, Smith spent much of his time working as managing director and aerial cameraman for Flying TV.

In a statement released through Smith’s aerial filming company Flying TV, Ms Greene said she would “like to offer enormous thanks to the staff at the hospital for their care and compassion”.

A Flying TV spokesman said: “Mike founded Flying TV ten years ago and the company says his legacy will be FTV continuing to go from strength to strength.”

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