The nation was left heartbroken yesterday when the devastating news broke that legendary TV presenter Keith Chegwin a.k.a ‘Cheggers’ had passed away.
According to his family, the 60-year-old had been battling a “long-term battle with a progressive lung condition” which had “rapidly worsened towards the end of this year”.
The Liverpudlian presenter was best known for presenting hit TV shows such as Swap Shop and Cheggers Plays Pop and Saturday Superstore.
Much later on in his career, Keith entered the Celebrity Big Brother house and won over the hearts of the viewers; coming in fourth place.
Keith’s family made a public statement about his passing on Monday: “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.”
“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.”
Keith’s ex-wife Maggie Philbin and former co-presenter on Swap Shop also paid tribute to the star: “I am sure you will have seen the heartbreaking news about Keith who died earlier today. It is incredibly sad. Keith was a one-off – full of life, generous and with a focus on things that mattered – his family.” she said.
“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.”
“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.”
A number of celebrities who worked with Keith throughout his career also paid tribute to their friend via Twitter.
Noel Edmonds wrote: ‘I’ve lost my first real telly chum and I’m certain I’m not alone in shedding tears for a true telly legend. 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.’
This Morning presenter Phillip Schofield tweeted: ‘I’m so stunned to hear that the utterly lovely @keithchegwin has died. Can’t get my head around this. One of my original Saturday morning heroes. Sending all my love to his family’.
Russell Grant also paid tribute to Cheggers: ‘I’m heartbroken and shattered. One of my oldest friends Keith Chegwin has left us. My heart goes out to Maria, Rose and Ted. Remembering our times at Tom Brown’s Schooldays and the Cambridge Theatre. I can’t believe we won’t talk or meet again, my dear, dear friend’.
Fellow co-star John Craven who had previously worked with Cheggers on Swap Shop and Saturday Superstore made a statement on the death of his former co-star: “I never saw Keith without a smile. He was always bubbly, positive, full of fun.” he said.
“I first met him when he was 19 and he had just joined Noel Edmonds and I on the Saturday morning children’s show Multi-Coloured Swap Shop.We were in a cosy studio while Keith was out on location in all weathers, doing his swapping with hundreds, sometimes thousands, of children and his genuine cheerful enthusiasm never left him. I couldn’t believe how professional he was for one so young.
“We worked together for ten years and remained good friends, which doesn’t always happen when strangers are thrust together on a television show. He was a master of the off-the-cuff remark and always made his job look so easy, whatever show he was doing, which is the true mark of a star on top of his game. Keith was much loved and will be much missed.”
Keith had been previously been a chain smoker and suffered from Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF); a condition which can cause difficulties with breathing.
As the BBC broke the news of Cheggers’ passing, viewers were left cringing as a huge gaffe was aired across the nation.
At around 2.30pm during the weather forecast, a man who hasn’t yet been identified could be heard muttering behind-the-scenes his own opinion on Keith’s cause of death: “Too much smoking probably” he said. [Watch Video Below]
Some viewers thought they were hearing things and posted tweets on Twitter to see if other viewers had also heard the same. Many claimed the comment was extremely ‘bad taste’.
“Did I just hear ‘too much smoking probably’ on BBC News from one of your producers when referring to Keith Chegwin?
#badtaste.” one viewer wrote.
“Extremely ashamed at BBC News. A tragic report that Keith Chegwin has sadly passed away from ongoing lung issues, only to hear a big gaffe as someone can be heard saying…”Too much smoking probably”
#ShameOnYou.” another commented.
@JohnCraven_ watching BBC NEWS waiting for your tribute to Keith Chegwin and as the phone line was dodgy we had to wait and about 15 secs in the weather report I heard as others may have too say "Too much Smoking probably " Well done if u wanna hear it 14:35 on catch-up m8
— Gazza (@Gazza08964) December 11, 2017
One user wrote: “Too much smoking probably…. what a gaffe. typical bbc keithchegwin rip,”
Apologising to viewers for the slip-up, the BBC told The Mirror: “During a live interview the studio had a sound issue with a guest which resulted in off air audio being inadvertently broadcast and it was quickly rectified.”