TV presenter Keith Chegwin has died aged 60 following a “long-term battle with a progressive lung condition”, his family has said.
The Liverpool-born presenter started out as an actor, with minor appearances in a variety of programmes, such as Open All Hours, The Liver Birds, and Z Cars.
His biggest acting role to date was in Roman Polanski’s 1971 version of Macbeth, playing the character of Fleance, before moving into television.
During the 1970s, ’80s’ and ’90s he became known for his TV work, with his big break coming in the shape of Multi-Coloured Swap Shop and Cheggers Plays Pop.
Over the years, Chegwin presented Channel 4’s The Big Breakfast and the revamped game show It’s A Knockout for Channel 5.
And just like that another piece of my childhood dies! Cheggers Plays Pop, Swap Shop. RIP Keith Chegwin
— Neil Fitzmaurice (@Fitzyfella) December 11, 2017
Cheggers wasn’t one to be constrained by scripts and boundaries, often ad-libbing live on air and, in 2000, presented a one-off show called Naked Jungle – whereby nudists competed over an assault course formatted programme to celebrate the 50th birthday of British naturism.
Later, he returned to acting by appearing in Ricky Gervais’ Extras, the 2011 movie Kill Keith (where he played himself), and again teamed up with him and Stephen Merchant in comedy series Life’s Too Short.
So sad to hear about the death of the lovely & funny Keith Chegwin.
RIP you National Treasure. #PopKnobInFanny
— Ricky Gervais (@rickygervais) December 11, 2017
In 2015, Chegwin appeared in Celebrity Big Brother, finishing in fourth spot, and that same year he competed in Celebrity MasterChef.
Former colleagues and stars have paid tribute to veteran presenter, from the worlds of sport, business and entertainment.
Former heavyweight boxing champ Frank Bruno said he was “saddened by the news.
Saddened to hear this,what a great guy! I worked with him a lot over the years a great entertainer,you will be missed RIP Keith Chegwin pic.twitter.com/EghfdBa8rm
— Frank Bruno MBE (@frankbrunoboxer) December 11, 2017
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
Comedian Paddy McGuinness tweeted in memory of Chegwin, who was “very much a part of my childhood.”
Such sad news. Very much a part of my childhood. RIP Keith Chegwin. pic.twitter.com/IFL7TujE9b
— Paddy McGuinness (@PaddyMcGuinness) December 11, 2017
Meanwhile, entrepreneur Duncan Bannatyne said the entertainer was “too young to go”, calling the news “so sad”.
We're saddened to hear of the passing of Keith Chegwin who was a presenter on Multi-Coloured Swap Shop, Cheggers Plays Pop and Saturday Superstore. He also appeared in comedy series Life's Too Short and Celebrity Masterchef. https://t.co/1i821ZyEjT pic.twitter.com/2zYVEPZf4o
— BBC (@AboutTheBBC) December 11, 2017
Sadly, his final tweet was in direct reference to his health, apologising for not being well…
Still not right. I will be back – But not for a bit yet. I’m so sorry
— Keith Chegwin (@keithchegwin) September 28, 2017
Ex-wife Maggie Philbin’s statement was full of humour, to match his: ‘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.
It is incredibly sad. Keith was a one-off – full of life, generous and with a focus on things that mattered – his family.’
She recalled the first time they met on Swap Shop:
‘I first met him when we did a film about windsurfing when I joined Swap Shop in 1978 and was immediately struck by his fun, energy and kindness.’
He drove me home to Leicestershire from that freezing lake in Staines, insisting it was on his own way home. (He lived in Twickenham).
He leaves us all with very special memories.’
Chegwin is survived by his second wife, Maria, who he’d been married to since 2000. He also leaves behind son Ted and daughter Rose.