Tributes paid to former Top Gear host

VOICE OF THE NEWS ... Tom Coyne during his BBC broadcasting days.
VOICE OF THE NEWS ... Tom Coyne during his BBC broadcasting days.

A LEADING South Tyneside-born newsman who was the voice of regional news has died.

Tom Coyne was a familiar face across the region after becoming the first news presenter at Tyne Tees in 1959.

NEWS MAN ... Tom Coyne with daughter Elizabeth, wife Pat and son Michael.

NEWS MAN ... Tom Coyne with daughter Elizabeth, wife Pat and son Michael.

Renowned for his booming tones the 84-year-old had a colourful career in the media industry, with his interviews ranging from the King of Tonga to Muhammad Ali and Catherine Cookson.

He also clocked up a number of milestones during his working life – including being the first Top Gear host, with Angela Rippon, and presenting Songs of Praise.

For three years he was also the voice of the Geordie gamekeeper, Gordon Armstrong, in the radio series The Archers

Mr Coyne, who was born in Maxwell Street, South Shields, died last Thursday after battling a long illness.

Tom was such a character and had such a lovely, well-recognised voice. He always told a good story, and he was ever so funny.

Winnie Thomas, sister

Sister Winnie Thomas, 83, from Fellgate, Jarrow, said: “Tom was such a character and had such a lovely well-recognised voice. He always told a good story, and he was ever so funny.

“At home he was just like he was on telly, full of fun and always joking about. Nobody ever had a bad word to say about him.”

After serving his time at Reyrolle in Hebburn, Mr Coyne, who was father to Michael and Elizabeth realised a manual career wasn’t for him.

The grandfather-of-two turned his hand to acting and became a member of the Westovians, along with his wife Pat, who died four years ago, and also the Power House Players.

From there, he progressed into radio. When he was 29, he started his broadcast career.

After leaving Tyne Tees in 1964, he joined BBC Midlands Today programme, where he made 4,000 appearances, and he set up home in Wolverhampton with his family, but regularly came back to South Tyneside.

Twitter: @shieldsgazvez