Posted: February 28th, 2014
By Roy Greenslade/photo: Mirrorpix: MIKE TAYLOR, former deputy editor of the Daily Mirrorand its one-time northern editor, died on February 28 (2014) aged 76. He had been in a nursing home for many years suffering from Alzheimer’s.
Talent-spotted as a young man by Hugh Cudlipp for his subbing and headline-writing skills, Mike was appointed night editor of the Mirror aged 26, making him one of the youngest ever appointed in nationalnewspapers. Flamboyant, hard-working and happy-go-lucky – if he wasn’t smiling he was laughing – he won a reputation for his fair treatment of staff, despite odd flashes of temper, in an era when Fleet Street’s senior executives tended to be forbidding task-masters.
David Banks, a newsdesk sub from Mike’s era (and later the Mirror’s editor) described him as “one of the very best night editors at a time when there were a lot of good ones around”.
Mike Molloy, who was Mirror editor for 10 years from 1975 during the time Mike was his deputy, said: “Mike was a good friend and I never knew him do a mean or malicious thing, which is not a bad record for Fleet Street.”
Molloy and a third Mirror editor, Tony Miles, recalled Taylor’s penchant for engendering laughter. And he was also noted for his geniality and generosity in the pubs around the Mirror’s Holborn Circus headquarters and the Press Club. He loved nothing more than to regale hacks with stories.
Born in October 1937 in Warrington, he was educated at the town’s Boteler grammar school before joining the local paper, the Irlam & Cadishead Guardian, later transferring to the head office of the Warrington Guardian. After doing his national service, he went south to take a job on the Evening Argus in Brighton.
He joined the Daily Mirror – the paper he idolised run by the man he hero-worshipped, Cudlipp – on his 25th birthday. During his lengthy stint as night editor, he was particularly proud of overseeing the coverage of the first manned moon landing in 1969 and kept a replica of the metal printing plate as a paperweight on his desk. He became deputy editor in 1972 and then northern editor in Manchester in 1976.
One of his most memorable headlines topped a centre spread about champion golfer Tony Jacklin recording an LP of songs: JACKLIN GOES ROUND IN 33/3rd (thirty-three and a third, of course).
John Walton, a retired Warrington estate agent who was at school with Mike, recalls that Mike became great friends with the English bullfighter Henry Higgins. Mike also led annual outings to the running of the bulls in Pamplona accompanied by the Daily Mail sportswriter Ian Wooldridge.
Mike retired on his 50th birthday in 1987, 25 years to the day after starting at the paper, and moved to Sweden to be with his second wife, working successfully there for several years as a freelance sub.
Mike was married first to Noreen, who became a feature writer on the Daily Mirror. They had two children, Damon, a writer who lives in Los Angeles, and Natascha, an actress who adopted her mother’s maiden name, McElhone, as her stage name.
After their divorce, I married Noreen, which led Mike to refer to me ever after as his husband-in-law or, sometimes, his common-law husband.
His second wife was a Swedish journalist, Margareta Rost, who died in January 2013. They are survived by their two sons, Alexander and Nicholas.
Read a sumptuous look back at Fleet Street pubs in All Our Yesterdays
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