For many TV viewers, the worst crime committed by Keith Chegwin was presenting a game show while naked. Now two stand-up comedians have accused him of a far more serious offence -- distributing stolen jokes.
The host of Cheggers Plays Pop and Multi-Coloured Swap Shop has taken to telling jokes on Twitter, where he has built up more than 36,000 followers. But now comics Simon Evans and Dubliner Ed Byrne have accused him of stealing gags written by other comedians, including Lee Mack, Jack Dee and Jimmy Carr. Chegwin has refused to back down, saying yesterday: "To all the comics I've upset, I'm sorry, but do me a favour -- Send me your DVDs. I sometimes have trouble sleeping."
Recently he has been tweeting frequently, including such gems as "I've got this book on willpower. . . I just can't put it down. . . ."; "Felt like a true gentlemen today opening the door for my wife, but I was doing 60mph"; and "Jonathan Ross steals household item from Ikea -- he said it was worth the whisk".
Then on Monday he tweeted: "My auntie Marge has been ill for so long we changed her name to 'I can't believe she's not better'."
That prompted Evans to point out that the joke had been written by Milton Jones, a Perrier award winner.
"Cheggers old chap, you are no doubt acting out of good intentions, but these jokes are written by professionals," he wrote.
"They earn their keep telling them and it's really not on to just distribute them like this, without credit."
Chegwin denied any wrongdoing, replying: "Always been honest about my gags, I'LL SAY IT AGAIN. Most of the gags are my own and some I remember from old. If ya don't like it 'UNFOLLOW'."
He would not respond specifically to the allegations of stealing from comedians still working today.
Dublin native Byrne said that Chegwin was breaking a "gentleman's agreement" among comics not to steal each other's work."