Skip to content

Keith Chegwin: ‘True telly legend’ dies aged 60

December 10, 2017
Keith Chegwin
Image caption Chegwin was a familiar face on children’s television

Veteran TV presenter Keith Chegwin has died aged 60 after a long illness, his family has said.

They said he had endured a “long-term battle with a progressive lung condition” which “rapidly worsened towards the end of this year”.

He died at home on Monday with his family by his side, who said they were “heartbroken”.

Chegwin was known for hosting programmes including children’s game show Cheggers Plays Pop and Swap Shop.

‘Life and soul’

His career spanned five decades, with other shows including Saturday Superstore.

The Liverpool-born star began his career as a child actor, starring in films such as Roman Polanski’s Macbeth and TV shows including The Liver Birds, The Adventures of Black Beauty and Z-Cars.

He went on to appear in reality TV shows like Celebrity Big Brother

The larger-than-life character, described by his family as “a loving husband, father, son, brother, uncle and friend” leaves his wife Maria and two children.

Chegwin had been cared for at a hospice in recent weeks.

Image copyrightPA
Image caption Chegwin also starred in Ricky Gervais’s Extras and ITV’s GMTV

Chegwin was previously married to fellow TV presenter Maggie Philbin, whom he had met on Swap Shop.

Philbin paid tribute to her former husband, saying: “It is incredibly sad. Keith was a one-off. Full of life, generous and with a focus on things that mattered – his family.

“I saw him two months ago at his sister Janice’s wedding, where he was still attempting to be life and soul of the party despite being on portable oxygen and made sure he knew how much he meant to us all.

“Our daughter Rose flew home from San Francisco to be with him over the last few weeks and I know he was surrounded by so much love from his second wife Maria, their son Ted, his sister Janice, his twin brother Jeff and his father Colin.”

Image copyrightPA
Image caption Chegwin had been one of the hosts of It’s a Knockout

‘Great character’

Tributes have been paid by fellow TV stars, including Gaby Roslin, who worked with him on The Big Breakfast. She described him as “so generous and kind” and a “happy and joyous man”.

Skip Twitter post by @GabyRoslin

No. I can’t bear the news. Not him. I was blessed to work with Keith Chegwin on the big breakfast and he was a happy and joyous man. So generous and kind. Bye bye cheggers So so sad #ripkeithchegwin#ripcheggars my love to his family.

— Gaby Roslin (@GabyRoslin) December 11, 2017

End of Twitter post by @GabyRoslin

John Craven, who worked with Chegwin on Swap Shop told BBC News that his colleague “never lost his cool. I never saw Keith when he wasn’t happy. He was a great, great character.”

He added: “We were great friends for many years, but we lost touch a bit and [his death] came as a huge shock for me.”

Bobby Davro said Chegwin was “one of the nicest guys” in showbiz.

Skip Twitter post by @BobbyDavro1

I have known Keith Chegwin for many years He was one of the nicest guys I’ve ever met in this biz I had been told he was very poorly but unable to contact him for a while What a dreadful shame to lose such a lovely friend Love to his family RIP Cheggers! I’ll miss that smile ?

— Bobby Davro (@BobbyDavro1) December 11, 2017

End of Twitter post by @BobbyDavro1

And Tony Blackburn said he was “devastated” at the loss of his friend.

Skip Twitter post by @tonyblackburn

I’m absolutely devastated to hear that my friend Keith Chegwin has died.He was one of the nicest people I have ever known and over the years we did shows together and became great friends. Keith RIP.

— Tony Blackburn (@tonyblackburn) December 11, 2017

End of Twitter post by @tonyblackburn

Blackburn told BBC News that Chegwin was “exactly the same (off air) as he was on television” and that he never saw him with a script.

“He was the most lovely person I’ve ever met and I’m so sad he’s no longer with us,” he added.

‘Saturday morning hero’

Breakfast presenter Lorraine Kelly said he was “a kind, funny, brave man”.

And Fiona Phillips, who also worked with him on breakfast TV, also paid tribute to her friend.

Skip Twitter post by @realmissfiona

I am so so sad to hear that my friend Keith Chegwin has passed. I’ll never forget his energy, his professionalism, his kindness, or his very bad jokes! A lovely man whose talent was bigger than he realised. RIP my friend. ?

— fiona phillips (@realmissfiona) December 11, 2017

End of Twitter post by @realmissfiona

Phillip Schofield, who presented Saturday morning show Live and Kicking, described Chegwin as “one of my many original Saturday morning heroes”.

Skip Twitter post by @Schofe

I’m so stunned to hear that the utterly lovely @keithchegwin has died. Can’t get my head round this. One of my original Saturday morning heroes. Sending all my love to his family ?

— Phillip Schofield (@Schofe) December 11, 2017

End of Twitter post by @Schofe

Chegwin’s career fell away in the 80s and 90s and he had a well-documented struggle with alcoholism for many years. But it was revived by a stint on the Big Breakfast.

He went on to make infamous Channel 5 nudist gameshow Naked Jungle, appearing naked except for a hat, and also starred as himself in Ricky Gervais show Extras.

Image caption Chegwin starred with a team of presenters including Noel Edmonds on Swap Shop

Chegwin – known affectionately by the nickname Cheggers – also appeared in Celebrity Big Brother, Bargain Hunt Famous Finds and Dancing on Ice.

He was due to appear in the 2012 Dancing on Ice series but had to pull out after breaking his ribs during the first day of rehearsal. He returned as a contestant the following year.

He also took part in Pointless Celebrities and Masterchef.

Follow us on Facebook, on Twitter @BBCNewsEnts, or on Instagram at bbcnewsents. If you have a story suggestion email [email protected]