Keith Chegwin’s Multi-Coloured Swap Shop co-stars have paid tribute to him after his death at the age of 60.
Noel Edmonds described him as “my first real telly chum” and called him a “true legend”, while John Craven described him as “bubbly, positive, full of fun”.
Maggie Philbin, who was his wife from 1982 to 1993 after Philbin joined the line-up of Swap Shop in 1978, said he was a “one-off”.
Chegwin, often known as Cheggers, died at home yesterday after battling a progressive lung condition.
Edmonds, his Swap Shop co-presenter, said: “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 was an extraordinary showman capable of entertaining a vast crowd of excited children during the long periods between his live contributions to the show.
“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.”
Craven, who appeared on Swap Shop and Saturday Superstore with Chegwin, said he first met him when he was 19.
He said: “I never saw Keith without a smile. He was always bubbly, positive, full of fun.”
Craven added: “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.”
Philbin said she last saw Chegwin at the wedding of his sister, the radio broadcaster Janice Long.
She said: “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.
“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.”