Tom Coyne 

9 June 2002 tbs.pm/3379

The very first news reader on Tyne Tees, Tom presented the first bulletin on the first day of the station in 1959.

The following day, he presented North East Roundabout, the first news magazine programme. From then, until he left Tyne Tees in 1964, he presented a daily news programme without a break, except for holidays. Tom didn’t even loose a day due to flu or a cold!

On Good Friday, 1964, Tom left the North East, moving to the Midlands to present the BBC’s Midlands Today programme, clocking up 4000 appearances on that show. He was also on the first edition of Nationwide, which he presented from London, as well as presenting Pebble Mill At One, Songs Of Praise, Dance Dates, Come Dancing and Top Gear. He also made numerous radio appearances, including three years on The Archers.

Tom rejoined Tyne Tees in 1980, leaving again in the mid eighties.

Tom’s return was covered by the North East edition of the TV Times much better than we could ever do it.

Tom Returns To His First Love

From the North East Edition of the TV Times, 1980.

On a cold December day in 1958, a young man with a microphone in his hand walked into a public house in Northumberland. The National Coal Board had decided to close a colliery and, five weeks before Tyne Tees Television first went on air, the young interviewer and the camera crew had been sent to get the story of “the death of a village”.

This was the interviewer’s first appearance in front of the cameras and his knees were knocking as he approached a miner at the bar for his comments. The lights were switched on, the interviewer was cued, the cameras rolled, and with a sharp intake of breathe he asked: “What do you think about the N.C.B. closing this colliery?”

Tom Coyne

But the eager and rather anxious interviewer persisted: “What action do you think the National Union of Mineworkers should take?” The miner replied: “You’d better ask them b——s, lad, not me.”

And so Tom Coyne’s career as a television journalist was launched – a career that was to make his a household name in the Midlands and which this week brings him full circle back to his native North East after an absence of 16 years, as presenter of Tyne Tees Television’s nightly news magazine, Northern Life.

Five weeks after that interview, when Tyne Tees went on the air, Coyne read the first news bulletin and the following night introduced the first edition of North East Roundabout.

Since that night in January 1959, he has presented a daily news programme without a break except for holidays. After leaving Tyne Tees on Good Friday, 1964, Tom moved to the BBC’s Midlands Today programme which goes out daily from their Birmingham studios.

“I love interviewing,” he says, “and I reckon I must hold the world record for presenting news programmes. I’ve been doing them five days a week since 1959 and I haven’t lost a day”I love interviewing,” he says, “and I reckon I must hold the world record for presenting news programmes. through a cold or ‘flu.”

His five years at Tyne Tees were punctuated with a series of “firsts”. Apart from reading that first news bulletin, he presented the first news magazine programme – showing viewers around the studio with colleagues Adrian Cairns, Sally Morton and Jimmy Lloyd.

He introduced the first Tyne Tees networked broadcast from Westminster on the N.A.T.O. conference, he was voted the first Tyne Tees “Personality of the Year” in the North East and he was chosen as one of the network commentators on the wedding of the Duke of Kent at York Minster.

Since leaving Tyne Tees he has clocked up some 4,000 appearances on Midlands Today. He was on the first edition of Nationwide, a programme has also presented from the Lime Grove studios in London.

He regards his early years in the North East as invaluable experience preparing him for his years in the Midlands where he has also presented such networked programmes as Pebble Mill At One, Songs Of Praise, Dance Dates, Come Dancing and Top Gear plus hundreds of programmes including three years as Geordie gamekeeper Gordon Armstrong in the long-running series The Archers.

During his years in Birmingham, Coyne has become known as “Mr Midlands” through his work on screen and numerous public appearances. Yet throughout this time he has retained a firm link with the North East.

Apart from obvious ties with his family and friends – he was born in South Shields – he is still on the same North East’s doctor’s books, he still has the same accountant and he still insures his car in South Shields.

Coyne himself admits he never really thought he would return to the North East but is thrilled about coming home again.

“I regard my new role with Northern Life as the most exciting challenge in my entire career.”

This article first in the North East edition of the TV Times in 1980.

You Say

1 response to this article

angela and terry donnelly 11 July 2013 at 6:13 pm

We have happy memories of Tom, he would sometimes call in the Grand Hotel in Sunderland after he had finished work.Terry was manager at the Grand, but we also moved to the midlands.

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