KEITH Chegwin today reflected on his jaw-dropping role playing a homo-phobic racist in the BBC comedy Extras - and said: "I can't thank Ricky Gervais enough!"
The cheeky, chirpy TV presenter was offered the part in last night's show - in which he even overshadowed Hollywood star Orlando Bloom - after it was turned down by Keith Harris, of Orville fame.
He was initially seen in typically cheerful Cheggers mode, but soon adopted the persona of a foul-mouthed bigot, though he told the ECHO: "The people who didn't get it probably think Johnny Depp really is a pirate.
"But I'm sure most people will get it - including my best mate, who's a gay hairdresser. It was so over the top, it would be sad if anyone did believe it - a case of more fool them."
His astonishing performance looks set to boost the boy from Bootle's credibility, mirroring what fellow Scouser Les Dennis's acclaimed appearance in the first series did for him.
Ricky Gervais, himself, said: "I worked with such international megastars as Orlando Bloom, David Bowie, Chris Martin of Coldplay, Sir Ian McKellen, Daniel Radcliffe and Robert Lindsay but for me the performance of the series comes from a little, fat Scouser called Keith Chegwin.
"It's the most excruciating cameo we've done, including Les Dennis. I don't know why he doesn't act full-time. He was remarkable."
A delighted Keith replied: "I saw Ricky at a private screening on Monday and I've never hugged anyone so hard in my life. I'm so grateful to him and Stephen Merchant, the show's co creator and co-writer."
He added: "I said 'yes' before I'd even read the script - although I knew it was going to be horrific! Ricky has said we had to shoot the scene where I was really offensive about 80 times, but that was only because he was laughing so much!"
Of possible future acting roles, Keith, 49, said: "If I'm now offered other things whichI feel are right and credible then who knows"?