Digital Spy

Search Digital Spy

TV Interview

Keith Chegwin

By
Keith Chegwin
Child actor, Radio 1 DJ, Saturday morning TV host, presenter of Naked Jungle, GMTV's roving reporter… Keith Chegwin has done just about everything in his four-decade showbiz career. As he prepares for his most prestigious assignment of all – presenting the BAFTA Children's Awards – we called him up for some fond-hearted reminiscence. Did he enjoy working with Ricky Gervais? Is he ever tempted by reality TV? What did the Queen think of Naked Jungle? Read on and Cheggers will reveal all.

What made you want to present the BAFTA Children's Awards?
"Oh God, because they offered! I can't tell how you chuffed I am. I do a lot of presentations for the corporate world, and I've always found it really weird that I get asked to do them. You know, I think it's because people get really fed up with the chairman getting and giving a really dry speech. I just get up, take the p*ss and have a laugh! I presented an award at last year's BAFTA Children's awards, and just had a laugh up there, and this year I'm presenting the whole ceremony. After 40 years in TV there are a few class jobs that I really want to do, and I'd say this is one of them."

How will you tweak your usual presenting style for this ceremony?
"Well, obviously I'll have to be a bit more restrained. It's weird, because I've been asked to do so many challenging things in my career. I was once asked to present a whole week of breakfast shows on Talk Radio, and I actually said to the programme controller, 'You do know who you're booking, don't you? You're a very serious network and you're booking Keith Chegwin to do your breakfast show!' But, you know what, MPs wouldn't come on the show... because I was quite hard! I was pushing them on every goddamn topic and they didn't like it."

What's been the highlight of your 40 years in TV?
"Well, I was standing in the kitchen one morning and I got a phone call from Ricky Gervais, and I thought it was somebody at GMTV taking the p*ss! He asked me to take part in Extras, and it was one of the most enjoyable two days of my life. He's just such a generous performer. I worked with a lot of people as a child actor - on Black Beauty, Z Cars, Open All Hours, lots of things - and most of the actors I worked with were always trying to top your line. Ricky Gervais doesn't do that - he wants to let you shine."

People tend to forget that you did a lot of acting early in your career. Post-Extras, is that something you'd like to return to?
"I'd love to, but I haven't had a job offer since! I'm open to offers, but not Casualty or The Bill. I don't want to be Keith Chegwin dying in a bed! It has to be a challenge; it has to be a role along the lines of, I don't know, a Scottish Keith Chegwin who's violent and horrible."

Is that challenge what you look for in all your work?
"Absolutely. You know, I've just got a new agent, and he can't get his get round the fact that I turn down a lot of work because it doesn't interest me. I'm not financially motivated and I never have been. I'm interested in something that's a challenge - I'm looking for a bit of gratification, something that's worth doing, which is why I won't do all the celebrity shows. I've been offered I'm A Celebrity and Big Brother, and I've been asked to go dancing for 12 weeks, but I haven't got 12 weeks free, thanks. I'd rather see the kids and the family."

Do your podcasts give you that gratification you're looking for?
"Well, I've got a bingo website and I do regular podcasts via the video stream. When you go onto the website, a little window pops up and I tell them what I've been up to. I record it in my hotel room, edit on my laptop and then just upload it to the web. It's very flexible."

So you're more technically-minded than people might think?
"Yeah, a lot of things I do on television, I've edited myself. I'm a real techno bore, and I like to diversify. I think most people who work in this industry are very lazy and very boring. They just want a car that'll take them to a job, a wardrobe and a drink before the journey home. Nowadays, if you're not prepared to get to grips with technology, you're going to be out. In time, the presenter will be the producer and the director, and eventually we'll be putting our own programmes out on our own networks."

You know this question's been coming... Do you regret Naked Jungle?
"Oh God do I? It's the worst career move I made in my entire life - if I could turn the clock back, I would! When they phoned up and said they were doing this programme to celebrate naturism - everyone's forgotten that bit - I thought it would be a laugh. They said it was going to go out at 11pm on a Tuesday night, and I seriously thought that nobody would watch it. Oh my God was I wrong!"

Were you surprised by the reaction it provoked?
"I had Chris Smith in the House of Commons saying how disgusting Keith Chegwin was! Then there was a picture in The Independent of Jenni Murray and The Queen laughing, and one of the press asked Jenni Murray what they had found so funny. She said: 'Well, there was a streaker going across Ascot racecourse and we were laughing about the Cheggers effect.' Who knows, maybe the Queen had watched Naked Jungle?"

Keith Chegwin hosts the BAFTA Children's Awards in association with Electronics Arts on November 25.

You May Like

More: TV