Written by Simon Bland
Published on Monday, 19 March 2012 02:28
KEITH CHEGWIN INTERVIEW
Interview conducted by Simon Bland
Keith Chegwin is a British TV personality with an acting and presenting career stretching back over 40 years. He is the eponymous character of a new horror comedy, Kill Keith, to be released shortly from Metrodome Distribution. Keith was kind enough to talk to HorrorTalk about the film and his taste in horror.
Simon Bland: So what went through your head when you heard there was a script floating around entitled ‘Kill Keith’?
Keith Chegwin: I heard about it before they even got the script together. Andy Thompson, who is the producer/director of the film, phoned me up and asked if I wanted to have a coffee so I thought, oh we’ll go talk some business. He said he had an idea for a movie and I said "What’s it called?" and he said "Kill Keith!". I asked "What’s that about?" and he said "I haven’t got a bloody clue!"
He asked if I wanted to help write it and I thought if I do I’m going to write something that makes me look good, so it would be more advantageous to me. In the end I decided not to, so he went away to write this script. I read it and I’ve never laughed so much in my life!
When I read the opening pages about a breakfast television show called ‘Up The Crack Of Dawn’ (Laughs) I thought I’ve got to do it. The film was 90 minutes and it took me 90 minutes to read it - I was racing through it. I gave it to my son, who’s thirteen, and he said ‘You’ve got to do it it’s funny!’ So that’s my motivation and reasoning for taking it on.
SB: You’ve done some acting before, right?
KC: I’ve done bits of acting, I’ve done Extras with Ricky Gervais and Life’s Too Short recently but I’ve done a lot of acting when I was a kid. I’ve done Polanski’s Macbeth, The Optimist with Peter Sellers, Open All Hours with Ronnie Barker, West End Stage Shows so I hadn’t done any acting since I was fourteen or fifteen, so I thought yeah it’s a challenge, I’ll do it!
SB: Was it easy to step back into the acting game?
KC: No, you know what it’s not easy when you’re just looking into the abyss to play a part and hoping it translates onto the screen. Presenting is easy because you just turn up make it up and walk away whereas this you have fifty or sixty people on a film set looking at you playing the part thinking ‘get on with it, get it right!’ so the pressure is on very much so. But the good thing for me was that I was pleased that somebody would trust me with their product. For someone to say "Yeah, we think you can act, have a go at my script and we’ll put you in the movies", and I was like ‘Okay!’ (laughs)
Marc Pickering & Susannah Fielding in Kill Keith
SB: Was it fun playing a villain?
KC: Yeah, totally the opposite from Keith Chegwin. It’s funny because there’s two parts to it in a way, one was the ‘wahey’ knocking on doors and giving away money and one was the more serious character in the movie. You know I really had to think when I was reading Andy’s script and I was knocking on doors, is that what I do? (Laughs) So I had more trouble playing Keith Chegwin than I did playing the more serious villain in it. The serious villain was just ‘be hard’, whereas the ‘wahey’ Keith Chegwin I actually had more thoughts about it. I’m running up a street, I’m reading their lines and I’m not making it up so that’s more demanding in a way.
SB: How was it working with the cast?
KC: The nice thing for me about the whole movie, and most people won’t know, is that Andy grabbed hold of my mobile phone and said "Can I go through it and look for celebrities?" so he did and he ignored some of the more current names that I’ve got because he wanted people in it that everybody would recognise. As soon as you mention Tony Blackburn I’d say 70% of the country say "Oh, yes I know Tony" as soon as you say Russell Grant the same and the same with Joe Pasquale. He wanted names like that, he wanted the instantly recognisable people but it was nice that he picked out those three names because the three people are really good mates.
SB: This interview’s for Horrortalk.com. Are you a horror fan?
KC: I love it! I absolutely love it; I was watching Severance the other night. The two greatest horror movies ever made are The Omen and The Exorcist. Van Helsing I love as well, oh god what a good movie Van Helsing was. I have to admit I love a bit of blood, guts and gore! (laughs) My wife doesn’t. What I do is record everything of Film Four and after weeks away of working there’s a whole selection for me, I love it!
SB: Are there any horror films in particular that have stuck with you?
KC: I think The Texas Chainsaw Massacre but that was just ad infinitum wasn’t it? Deliverance, there’s another one which is a horror film really. The Exorcist for me…I read an awful lot and when I was sixteen or seventeen particularly horror stories and I loved The Omen and I loved The Exorcist but I think the films are better than the bloody books which is unusual really because with the books you can transform it into pure fantasy and escapism and make up your own pictures, but actually the movies did it better. That scene where the little kid is dragged up to that church and he’s screaming his goddamn head off! Right now it sends a chill down the back of my neck!
SB: There’s a scene in the movie where a character receives a death threat. What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever received?
KC: Oh god, I’ve had lots of threats! (laughs) Even on Twitter, I’m still getting them but it’s water off a ducks back for me! Oh god, there was somebody who stalked me for a while but that was when I was around seventeen or eighteen and working in children’s TV. That was quite unnerving because I’d literally turn up to an outside broadcast in Huddersfield and she’d be there, the following week I’d be in Devon – she’d be there…god knows how she found out where I was but literally one day she was watching me doing a live TV show. She was actually on the studio floor while I was presenting and I said to my boss ‘That’s the bloody girl who’s stalking me!’ and they took her out of the BBC, never seen her since (laughs). But that’s the only thing really.
Kill Keith is released on DVD in the UK on March 26th
Links: Kill Keith Website | KeithChegwin.com |
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