Veteran TV presenter and actor Keith Chegwin has died aged 60, his family has said.
Chegwin passed away after a “long-term battle with a progressive lung condition” according to a statement from his family.
After starting out in the 1970s as an TV and stage actor, he gravitated towards TV presenting, becoming the host of the BBC’s Multi-Coloured Swap Shop, Saturday Superstore and Cheggers Plays Pop.
‘Cheggers’ continued to be a regular TV face for both kids and adults, presenting Channel 4’s The Big Breakfast and ITV’s GMTV, and also returned to the stage as a popular panto star.
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
His Swap Swop co-presenter and ex-wife Maggie Philbin paid tribute to Chegwin after news of his death broke on Monday 11th December.
“It is incredibly sad. Keith was a one-off – full of life, generous and with a focus on things that mattered – his family,” she wrote.
“Keith was loved by everyone who knew and worked with him. 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,” she continued. “He drove me home to Leicestershire from that freezing lake in Staines, insisting it was on his own way home. (He lived in Twickenham).”
Philbin revealed that Chegwin’s family had known for a while that he was unwell, but that he continued to be “the life and soul of the 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.”
His friend Timmy Mallett also celebrated the TV star on Twitter, saying that he “made the world smile”.
The saddest news, I'm numb.
Dear Cheggers made the world smile.
Such lovely happy times with him.
Joyfully happy in his new home.
My heart goes out to all the family. #RIP
— Timmy Mallett (@TimmyMallett) December 11, 2017
Chegwin opened up about his struggles with alcoholism during his time on Celebrity Big Brother in 2015, admitting that he had contemplated suicide.
Big Breakfast host Gaby Roslin called Chegwin “a happy and joyous man”, while radio presenter Tony Blackburn called him “one of the nicest people I have ever known”.
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
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
Chegwin’s family confirmed in a statement that he passed away at home surrounded by his family.
“We are heartbroken to share the news that Keith Chegwin sadly passed away following a long-term battle with a progressive lung condition, idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, which rapidly worsened towards the end of this year,” the statement read.
“Keith died peacefully at home shortly after midnight on the 11th of December. His wife Maria, his daughter Rose and his son Ted were by his side.
“We would like to take this opportunity to thank Severn Hospice for the kindness, support and care they have shown us all over the last few weeks.
“Keith was a loving husband, father, son, brother, uncle and friend. We would respectfully ask to be left to mourn his passing in private.”