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Tributes flood in as ex-showbiz editor dies aged 59

Tributes are being paid to a journalist and theatre reviewer who has died at the age of 59.

Mike Howard, former TV and show business editor for The Argus in Brighton, died in his sleep at his Brighton home.

Mike, (left), had been in poor health for years, mainly through diabetes which led to part of one foot being amputated. He had been housebound for most of the past year.

Yet his immobility in later life was all a far cry from his early days as a reporter.

Mike was raised in Crawley and after leaving school at 16 travelled to France to work in hotels and bars. A year later, and determined to become a journalist, he spent eight years in Vietnam covering the war.

He later travelled to Angola with the Catholic Aid Agency, where he was captured and tortured by militants who thought he was a spy. When he was released, he carried on working in the African country until the photographer he was travelling with was killed by a land mine. The blast left Mike badly injured.

He eventually returned to Sussex and joined the Brighton and Hove Leader, subsequently working on The Argus covering TV and the arts.

He was an instantly recognisable figure in Brighton and Hove.

He will be fondly remembered by audiences at performances by the Brighton Philharmonic and his last visit there was to the new year concert. He was a regular at Glyndebourne and the Royal Opera House where he particularly enjoyed arias by Verdi and Puccini.

After leaving The Argus he worked as a press officer for Brighton Marina and East Sussex County Council.

He continued reviewing the arts for The Argus, managing to make it to most concerts at the Dome and plays at the Theatre Royal Brighton.

Mike loved to read, was said to have strong opinions on everything and was well versed in current affairs.

Argus columnist Adam Trimingham said: “He had a generous nature and tended to err on the side of kindness when writing his reviews – which made people take notice of his occasional strictures because they were always well founded.

“Mike proved a worthy successor to the great Jack Tinker during his long stint as the main theatre reviewer for The Argus. He will also be fondly remembered by audiences at performances by the Brighton Philharmonic Orchestra.”

Frankie Taggart, news editor, The Argus, said: “I can’t think of any other critic who would reply to a gentle ribbing about his orthopaedic shoe with the retort: ‘I stand corrected’.”

Mike Ward, journalist and TV critic, from Brighton, said: “I worked with Mike many years ago, both on The Argus and the Leader. I always found him to be a funny, phenomenally intelligent and thoroughly lovely man.”

Bella Todd, music critic, Time Out, said: “Of all the advice Mike gave me, the most persistent was: “Never get old.” It was advice he seemed to have resolutely stuck to.”

Family friend Peter Bailey said: “He was one of the most interesting people I’ve ever met and loved nothing more than a good political debate. He will be sadly missed.”

Mike’s ex-wife Diane said: “The sad thing is he didn’t realise how many people loved and cared about him. He was fiercely independent and a very proud man.

“I called him Cog which stood for ‘curmudgeonly old git’ – he could be like that but he had a heart of gold.

“When we got divorced it was as if we became closer. We realised we couldn’t live with each other and we couldn’t live without each other. He was my best friend and I loved him to bits.”

The funeral will be tomorrow at Downs Crematorium, Brighton, at 2.15pm. There will be a wake at the Theatre Royal Brighton afterwards.