Noel Edmonds has paid an emotional tribute to his “first telly chum” Keith Chegwin, following his death on Monday (11 December).
Tthe presenter and entertainer died following a long battle with a progressive lung condition, and after hearing the news Noel said he had been “shedding tears” for his former ‘Multi-Coloured Swap Shop’ co-star.
In a heartfelt statement, Noel remembered their time working together on the Saturday morning kids show, hailing Cheggers as a “remarkable showman”.
“I’ve lost my first real telly chum and I’m certain I’m not alone in shedding tears for a true telly legend,” he said.
“Cheggers and I launched Swap Shop together. Yes, we had the wonderful broadcaster John Craven to keep us in line but it was the chemistry between myself and Keith that initially created the Swap Shop magic that enthralled millions of children every Saturday morning on BBC 1.
“Only those who’ve presented live television really know how difficult it is to make it look easy.
“I had the luxury of hosting the show from behind the desk in a warm studio but Keith was out on the road in all weathers. He was an extraordinary showman capable of entertaining a vast crowd of excited children during the long periods between his live contributions to the show.”
He continued: “I never saw Keith flustered or lost for words.
“In fact now I think about it I never saw him upset or angry. I never heard Cheggers say a bad word about anyone. Like all true professionals he possessed the knack of reinventing himself time and time again.”
“He was a very generous performer. Keith was indeed larger than life but he never stole the spotlight. He was an all-round entertainer- a very funny comedian and accomplished musician and singer.
“He was at his best on location, with a film crew chasing him and a member of the public about to be surprised on their doorstep.
“The greatest achievement for any TV performer is for the viewers to regard you as a friend and today millions will be grateful for Keith’s contribution to their childhood memories and like me they will mourn the passing of a friend.”
Noel’s words followed those from their co-star and Keith’s ex-wife Maggie Philbin.
She said in her own statement: “Keith was a one-off – full of life, generous and with a focus on things that mattered – his family.
“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. 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.”
Keith and Noel worked alongside John Craven on ‘Swap Shop’ from 1976 to 1982, with Maggie joining the show two years after it started.
The couple went on to marry shortly after the show ended in 1982, going on to have a daughter, Rose, together, before divorcing in 1993.
Keith then went on to marry Maria Fielden in 2000, with whom he shared a son, Ted.
Many other names from the world of showbiz, including Phillip Schofield, Tony Blackburn and Ricky Gervais, have also paid their own tributes to Cheggers on social media following his death.