A KILLER is on an evil crusade to bump off some of the nation’s best loved television celebrities.

The potential victims are all household names and contenders for the coveted role of lead presenter of a popular TV breakfast show.

But their corpses are turning up at an alarming rate, despatched using a variety of breakfast condiments.

Loading article content

The Press has dubbed the mystery assassin The Breakfast Cereal Killer – and the only question is who’s next?

This was the unlikely premise for a demented comedy horror movie presented to the equally unlikely actor who filmmaker Andy Thompson had in mind to be its star – chirpy TV presenter Keith Chegwin.

And when Cheggers got on board, the concept for Kill Keith the movie became a reality.

The resulting film, released in 2011, may not have reached the kind of mass audience a Hollywood blockbusters can expect, but it has become something of a cult classic.

And now, fans will have another chance to view Kill Keith on the big screen when it is shown at a North-East film club next month.

Chegwin’s unexpected death from lung disease last month prompted James Watson of Darlington Film Club to arrange a special showing of the movie in memory of the popular entertainer.

And when Andy – the film’s director and co-writer – heard of the intention he thought it would be an ideal opportunity to pay tribute to his long-time friend and colleague and raise some money for charity at the same time.

He will be flying to the UK from his African base to attend the screening in Darlington next month, where he will be joined by Kill Keith co-writer Tim Major. The will take part in a Q&A session with the audience after the film has been shown.

The event will be held to raise money for the British Lung Foundation to raise awareness of idiopathic pulmonary thrombosis, the disease which claimed the life of Chegwin, aged just 60, in December last year.

For Andy, it will be a fitting way to remember the man who he describes as “one of the good guys”.

“Keith always had a smile on his face,” he says.

“He always had a joke and he was always buzzing. The energy he brought, not just to the set but to any room, was electric.

“He would always find the positive side in everything, a real glass half full kind of guy. I know he’d had his problems in the past but he’d always look at the positives. We just hit it off.”

Andy had the idea for Kill Keith several years earlier, but it was just an outline script until he met Chegwin over a coffee.

He’d known Cheggers for several years, having worked with him previously on radio, theatre productions and pantomime.

Chegwin had started out as an actor, appearing in West End shows and gaining TV and film roles – the most prestigious of which was in Roman Polanski’s Macbeth.

But he struggled to make a decent living and when the BBC asked him to present a children’s TV show he jumped at the chance.

It would change his life and his appearances on programmes such as Multi-Coloured Swap Shop, Cheggers Plays Pop and The Big Breakfast would make him a household name.

Andy thought Chegwin would be ideal for his film, saying: “I wasn’t going to do it unless I had got the support of someone like Keith because it was based on that kind of character.”

Cheggers loved the idea and three months later Andy, Tim and a third co-writer, Pete Benson, had completed the full script.

To say Chegwin got on board would be an understatement. He threw himself into the project with the energy and enthusiasm for which he is known.

He helped get his co-stars on board. Tony Blackburn, who he had known for years, was handed his first acting role – as a Tony Blackburn lookalike.

Astrologer Russell Grant, who had appeared alongside Chegwin and Simon le Bon in a stage play in the 1970s, got involved, as did comedian Joe Pasquale.

“They all climbed on board with the joke and the tongue in cheek nature of the film and that was all very much down to Keith,” says Andy.

“Keith would arrive really early on set, even when he wasn’t needed, because he loved the buzz of it and that magnificent energy he had drove the whole thing.

“He really climbed on board and got involved all the way through. He gave so much of his time to support it.”

The film very much divided opinion. Cheggers, who plays a roving reporter who could be the killer’s next victim, lampoons his public persona, but Andy says some critics just didn’t “get the joke”.

“It is a Marmite film,” he says. If you don’t get it then you don’t get it.

“For every review I got that said the film was fantastic, brilliant or funny, there’s another that says this is the worst film I’ve ever seen.”

Andy hopes the audience in Darlington does “get it” and he is ready with a series of anecdotes from the set.

“I’ve been making feature films for the last 10 years and the best time I’ve had was the four weeks making Kill Keith,” he says. “That’s because we had so much fun.”

He’s still struggling to come to terms with the loss of his friend. Like many, he hadn’t realised quite how ill Chegwin was.

“I was as shocked as everyone, he really did keep it quiet,” says Andy.

“The one thing I’ll really miss about Keith was when you were chatting with him, he was always dancing. He had this little shuffle dance that he did, he was just so happy.

“It still hasn’t properly sunk in yet, it’s very sad.”

  •  Kill Keith (Certificate 15), followed by a Q&A, is at The Forum, Borough Road, Darlington, on Monday, February 5 at 7pm. Tickets £5 (all proceeds to the British Lung Foundation) available from The Forum 01325-363135 or facebook.com/DarlingtonFilmClub