'The Office' actor Ewen MacIntosh dies at 50


Ewen MacIntosh played accountant and aspiring DJ 'Big Keith' Bishop in the two-season series that aired between 2001 and 2003. Photo: Handout

Ewen MacIntosh, an actor who starred in the UK edition of The Office, has died. He was 50.

MacIntosh starred in the British workplace comedy co-created by Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant. He played accountant and aspiring DJ "Big Keith" Bishop in the two-season series that aired between 2001 and 2003.

"With great sadness we announce the peaceful passing of our beloved comedy genius Ewen MacIntosh," Just Right Management wrote in a Tuesday tweet. "His family thank all who supported him, especially Willow Green Care Home. There will be a private cremation for family & close friends soon & a celebratory memorial later in the year."

In a Wednesday statement to The Times, MacIntosh's spokesperson Chelle Just said the actor "suffered from ill health these past two years and passed peacefully on the 19th February from undisclosed causes."

"Ewen was a wonderful actor and an even better human being. He made people laugh and possessed such a kind heart. He touched the lives of all who came into contact with him," Just said, adding, "His family are heartened by and deeply appreciate all the outpouring of love for Ewen but would appreciate the privacy for them to grieve at this very difficult time."

Gervais and Merchant led the tributes to the actor, whose memorable character notably listed "eczema" among his weaknesses, had a proclivity for Scotch eggs and dressed up as Sacha Baron Cohen's wannabe gangsta rapper Ali G for the office's Red Nose Day observation.

"Extremely sad news. The very funny and very lovely Ewen Macintosh, known to many as 'Big Keith' from The Office, has passed away. An absolute original. RIP," tweeted Gervais, who played office manager David Brent and later made cameos in NBC's long-running version of the series.

In an Instagram post, co-writer and co-director Merchant shed light on MacIntosh's work on the show.

"I'm so very sad to hear of the passing of Ewen MacIntosh, a lovely and uniquely funny man who played accountant Keith in The Office," he wrote. "I fondly recall we asked him to improvise an out-of-office message, and he was so hilarious we started writing more and more dialogue for him. He soon stole every scene he was in. A total one-off. A tragic loss. RIP"

The Miranda and Little Britain actor was also remembered fondly by other friends and colleagues across social media.

"We were the same age and crossed paths many times as we did our best to be funny and make a living out of it," co-star Miranda Hart wrote on Instagram. "It wasn't always likely but we did it and I am glad we got to do a scene together. Thank you xx."

"Gutted to hear this. Genuinely a top bloke and such a huge help to up and coming filmmakers," director Jamie McKee tweeted. "Always had time for everyone and a wicked sense of humour. And just so happened to be behind one of the greatest comedy characters of all time. RIP big Keith."

"Absolutely gutted! Ewen was a wonderfully kind, supportive and very funny bloke," writer-director Paul Holbrook added. "RIP mate, and I really hope they serve scotch eggs up there!" – Los Angeles Times/Tribune News Service

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