Keith Chegwin: Popular TV presenter on his love for Shropshire
TV star Keith Chegwin will be best remembered as a presenter on TV's Swap Shop, Cheggers Plays Pop and Saturday Superstore.
The popular TV personality passed away at his home in Shropshire today.
The Liverpool-born presenter and actor said he and his wife Maria had come up from Berkshire, and settled in a country home in the area between Whitchurch and Wem, partly because they were keen to be closer to family further north.
Earlier this year he spoke of his love for his adopted home.
He said: "I have lived down south since I was 10 years old; I moved to London to go to stage school.
"About two years ago me and my wife thought 'why on earth are we living down here when all our family are up north?'
"I'm originally from Liverpool. My dad's 83 and still up there, and my wife's family is near York.
"I've always wanted to live in Shropshire. I always remember coming down this way on the canals as a kid, we travelled down to Wem. My dad fell in and we travelled along a viaduct and put a hole in the boat – it was disastrous as a holiday, but the scenery is beautiful."
The Keith, also known as Cheggers, said he was now looking forward to finding out more about the county which has become his home.
He said: "It's a lovely part of the world and we're looking forward to exploring it.
"I might look into getting myself an electric bike – at my age I don't want to cycle!"
He said impressions so far had been very favourable, with the locals giving him a warm welcome and even offering fix his broken-in-transit clock for a tenner.
He said: "It's been a horrendous time moving home, but we moved here on Thursday and I've never met such a friendly bunch of people in my life.
"Everyone chats to you in the shops, it's just very, very friendly here."
In Berkshire he also lived in a rural village in "the middle of nowhere", he said, so is used to the benefits and challenges of county living – but there is one issue already sticking out like a sore thumb as he settles into his Shropshire home, and it is one that many rural residents will be able to identify with.
"The mobile signal is fine, I can get 4G here, but the broadband – well, I could run faster than that, it's so slow," he said.
"I thought down south where we were it was bad but here it's absolutely appalling."
The average broadband speed in the UK is above 20 Mbps, but he is not even able to get 1 Mbps, he said.
"One minute its 0.25 Mbps, the next its 0.26.
"Well you can't run a business with that."
Though best known as a TV personality, Chegwin has maintained various business enterprises for decades. He said he phoned up BT to complain and they said it would be upgraded soon.
"I said 'when?' and they basically said 'we don't know'."
He said he was considering making more of a noise about it, as in his old village his complaint had at least prompted utility workers to raise the speed to 2 Mbps using microwave technology.
At the moment, however, his mind is on preparing for panto season – despite Christmas having long gone.
He said: "It's chaos at the moment, I'm really just about to go on tour so it's not a good time to be moving house.
"But I'm doing doing something called an Easter Panto, everyone's doing it now.
"We're doing Beauty and the Beast."
The tour, which starts at Lancaster Grand Theatre on April 3, will bring back last year's surprise sell-out hit.
"It's just a fun take on the Christmas tradition, but don't expect it to be like the Disney film.
"One lady did and asked me afterwards, 'Why were you covered in gateau at one point? And why were you singing the 12 days of Christmas at Easter?' I love it."
In fact, he said, one of his stipulations in moving to Shropshire was that the county towns had a decent panto of some sort – so he was delighted to find out that some did.
"I've been along to Shrewsbury and I saw the Theatre Severn, and that's just beautiful," he said, "and I hear that they have a good panto."
Though not in the current list of dates for his Beauty and the Beast tour, he said he hoped he could take to the stage in Shrewsbury and Telford in the future.