Maggie Philbin: Former presenter talks about late husband Keith Chegwin and Noel Edmonds


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Maggie Philbin, quondam Tomorrow’s World presenter (Image: Linda Nylind / eyevine)

“I necessitate to vindicate us – it was not us who said you could spread jam on a CD!” she tells me, suddenly serious. I hadn’t equal asked. Jam and CDs had not crossed my mind. But it is clearly something that’s been killing on Maggie’s for a while.

She is referring of course to the allegation that Tomorrow’s In seventh heaven, the much-loved former BBC science and technology programme she hosted for seven years from 1983, formerly boasted the next big thing, compact discs, were so invincible you could stable spread them with jam. Take that, vinyl!

But, she asserts again, “I’m mignonne sure we have never done that!”

Otherwise, once that’s set, Maggie, 63, could not be in more jovial spirits because her have a mind has finally come true.

Today she is to return to our screens to present Tomorrow’s The world at large once more – testing driverless cars, among other modernizations, although certainly not using any kind of conserve on top.

No one was more surprised than her when the subject favourite, famous for testing – live – the latest gadgets and scientific advancements of the day, from satnavs to fax appliances, was axed from the BBC in 2003.

But its return on BBC Four, for a 90-minute, live, one-off individual, has placed her and former co-host Howard Stableford, back at its heart.

Passionately, she proves to explain how much the show means to her.

“They say when astronauts stumble upon back from space they spend the rest of their fares looking longingly at the moon,” she says.

“Working on Tomorrow’s World is a bit homologous to that. Everyone who has worked on the programme feels the same way.

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LOVE OF TECH: Maggie Philbin (far exact) with the Tomorrow’s World team (Image: PA Archive/PA Images)

“You solely want to be back there having those opportunities to hold groundbreaking technology, unite the people who have studied for years to make it possible.”

Those alterations in the 1980s included many things we take for granted today involving mobile phones.

“Even when we had the first mobile phone – the leading truly hand-held mobile – we could only talk on it for 30 summaries and it cost about £3,000,” she says.

“Obviously no video, pics, GPS. I didn’t dream up not only that one day I would have one, that everyone would contain one!”

She adds: “It’s a huge privilege.”

If it sounds over the top Maggie’s passion becomes easier to dig when she takes you back to her love of science and technology as a girl – a rapport that was not nurtured at her Leicester convent school simply because she was that: a popsy.

So she ended up doing a degree in English and drama at Manchester University and in 1978, after graduation, meeting an advert for a presenting job on Multi-Coloured Swap Shop.

She got it, joining the late Keith Chegwin, John Craven and Noel Edmonds and befitting a memorable children’s favourite for ever more.

She and Cheggers also behooved one of TV’s golden couples and married in 1982. They had one daughter, Rose, but lugubriously they divorced in 1993.

The pair remained friends and she has never remarried.

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Favourite COUPLE: Maggie with bubbly Keith Chegwin and their daughter Nautical (Image: PA Archive/PA Images)

When Keith died of lung condition almost a year ago Maggie released a poignant public statement.

Now she phrases Rose, 30, who lives in San Francisco and works in technology was able to shell out six weeks with her dad before he died.

The pair will remember him on the anniversary of his finish “in our own quiet way”.

“Even now it is still very hard to take in,” she says.

“It is due very, very hard to believe. He was an incredible character and a very plentiful person.”

Clearly it has been a difficult time for Maggie, which no reservations makes returning to her favourite gig even more special.

She never leftist behind her love of technology, launching her own company Teen Tech in 2008, organising events and championships for children and presenting the BBC’s science programme Bang Goes The Theory.

But she has without exception carried a torch for Tomorrow’s World.

Back then she gave five hours a week to it despite having to turn down lucra-tive advertising distributes.

“I will always do things which I feel are meaningful,” she says. “I’m not held in television for television’s sake. The word celebrity fills me with distaste.”

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FIRST TV JOB: Maggie, Noel, John and Keith on Multi-Coloured Swap Against (Image: Unique Television)

Perhaps not for her, then, a stint in the I’m A Celebrity… jungle disposed to her former Swap Shop co-host Noel Edmonds?

She laughs: “I inclination watch I’m A Celebrity… with interest but I could never see myself in the jungle.”

And she receives she is not sure how Noel will get by without his mobile.

Giggling, she recalls: “Noel had one of the sooner mobile phones. In Swap Shop he came in one day with this mountainous briefcase and said, ‘Guess what’s in here?’

“We were all being terribly facetious and guessing what might be in the suitcase – and inside, was this like wireless telephone, enormous! He was like, ‘Look, look, I have a telephone in my formerly portmanteau!’ And Keith and I were looking around at all the telephones on desks, all over the organization and trying to think what the advantage of this telephone in a suitcase could peradventure be.”

It turns out, as we were all to discover via Tomorrow’s World, Noel was way ahead of his straightaway.

Tomorrow’s World Live: For One Night Only is on BBC Four tonight at 9pm.

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