2 August 2014
Former BBC Radio 1 breakfast show DJ Mike Smith has died aged 59. He died on Friday after complications from major heart surgery, his aerial filming company, Flying TV, said. Smith spent six years at Radio 1 between 1982 and 1988, and was also a presenter on Top of the Pops and hosted the BBC’s coverage of Live Aid.
His wife of 25 years, the TV presenter Sarah Greene, thanked hospital staff who had treated him for their care and compassion. She asked for her family and friends to be allowed to mourn in peace.
Smith’s predecessor and successor on Radio 1’s Breakfast Show, Mike Read and Simon Mayo, were among the first to pay tribute Read said: “The news is just devastating. Sarah and Mike were a wonderful couple – it is truly horrible to hear. Mike was a very affable guy, fantastically business-like. It’s a real loss and has come as quite a shock.”
Mayo said 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.”
Noel Edmonds, who worked with Smith on the Late, Late Breakfast Show said in a statement: “I am totally stunned and heartbroken for Sarah and his family.
“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.”
Radio presenter Sybil Ruscoe said Smith was “a generous colleague” who “encouraged me so much while reading the news” on his breakfast show.
A BBC spokesperson 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 joined BBC Radio 1 from Capital Radio in 1982. He then graduated to the breakfast show, taking over from Read in May 1986. He did the job for two years, during which time Diana, Princess of Wales, declared he was her favourite DJ.
He and Greene hit the headlines in September 1988 when they were both seriously injured in a helicopter crash in Gloucestershire. Smith, who was piloting the aircraft, crashed it into some trees. Greene broke both her legs and an arm, while Smith suffered a broken back and ankle. The couple became engaged soon after the crash and were married a year later.
Smith, who was born in Essex, was also well known for his TV appearances in the 1980s on the BBC’s Breakfast Time, and The Late, Late Breakfast Show alongside Edmonds. Smith was known for his sense of humour, and once told listeners during a radio programme broadcast on April Fools Day that “Prince” would be appearing live on the show. However, instead of the reclusive pop legend his guest was actually Prince Edward.
Former BBC Radio 1 controller Johnny Beerling said Smith was a “versatile broadcaster” and a “very original one”. “He was a good lad and I miss him,” he said.
And Phillip Schofield, who presented Going Live! with Sarah Greene said on Twitter: “There are no words. My wonderful, bright, funny, thoughtful friend Mike Smith has passed away @RealSarahGreene I’m so so sorry my darling.”
‘I miss radio’
Smith founded his company, which supplies aerial shots for UK broadcasters, in 2003. Over the past decade, the firm was responsible for much of the aerial footage that appeared on British TV shows – often made with Smith himself at the controls of the helicopter. He had rarely appeared on TV or radio in recent years – instead focusing on his business – but was interviewed in 2010 by Chris Moyles for a BBC documentary about Radio 1 breakfast show presenters.
Smith, who lived in London, said at the time: “I miss radio tremendously, TV not so much. “Radio has a contact with the audience in a very special way. It’s a privilege to be allowed into people’s lives.”