THANKS to his relaxed, sometimes irreverent and often humorous approach, Mike Morris, who has died aged 66, was a television presenter who was affectionately regarded by colleagues and viewers alike.
Joining Calendar, Yorkshire Television’s news programme, in 1996, he presented the evening bulletins alongside Christa Ackroyd and then Christine Talbot before retiring in 2002.
In terms of television history, however, Mr Morris, who died from a heart attack having been ill with cancer, ranks as one of the team that cemented the style of breakfast television.
After the failure of ITV’s much-vaunted breakfast station, TV-am, to win viewers with its line-up of high-powered presenters – they included Michael Parkinson, David Frost Angela Rippon, and Robert Kee – there was a complete about-turn; out went the mission to explain and in came the mission to entertain, led by Roland Rat and accompanied later by Mr Morris, whose very ordinary, man-in-the-street mustachioed appearance made him a hit with those watching at home.
BBC’s successful Breakfast Time, with Selina Scott and Frank Bough, had an easy-going, light-hearted approach, and over at TV-am that popular mix was given more potency.
Mr Morris started as a sports presenter, and first hosted the Saturday magazine edition before becoming a main presenter of Good Morning Britain in 1987.
Three years later he conducted the first live British television interview with Nelson Mandela, who had just been released from Robben Island.
Mr Morris was born in Harrow, Middlesex, and brought up in Barnsley. He went to St Paul’s School in London and then to Manchester University, graduating in American and English Literature.
His career began in 1969 when he joined the Surrey Comet, later moving to Sydney where he became a bulletin editor for the Australian news agency AAP Reuters.
Returning to the UK, he switched to sports journalism, in 1974 joining United Newspapers – the Yorkshire Post being one of its titles – as a reporter and later, sports editor.
He made the switch to broadcasting in 1979 when he became a sub-editor and reporter for the regional news programme Thames News. Four years later he joined TV-am, his co-presenters being Anne Diamond, Kathy Rochford, Kathryn Holloway, Kathy Tayler, Linda Mitchell, Maya Even and Lorraine Kelly, with whom he presented the final edition, the station losing its franchise in December, 1992.
He then went to GMTV to present its Sunday magazine show Sunday Best, and was also a presenter on the now-defunct cable channel Wire TV, touring Britain in a bright yellow bus converted into an outside broadcast unit and spending a week at a time in different places. The channel closed in 1995 and the following year he joined the Calendar team.
The night before being interviewed for the job, his clothes were stolen from his car, so the wardrobe department at YTV dressed him in one of Richard Whiteley’s suits.
Renowned for his easy manner, he terrified producers by refusing to come on set until just a few minutes before transmission. His clowning around disguised a sharp intelligence, and brightened the newsroom with laughter.
While working in Leeds, he commuted weekly from his home in Surrey.
Mr Morris is survived by Sarah and Helen, the two daughters from his 1975 marriage to Alison Jones.