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How Keith from The Office still made people laugh until the very end: Ewen MacIntosh ‘suffered ill health’ for two years before his death aged 50 and spent his final days in care home ‘making nurses smile’


Ewen MacIntosh, the comedian and actor who played ‘Big Keith’ in The Office, suffered ‘ill health’ for two years before his death – but he was still making people laugh until the very end.

MacIntosh, who died aged 50 of ‘undisclosed causes’ on Monday, was best known for playing a Scotch egg-loving accountant in Ricky GervaisBBC sitcom which became an instant comedy classic when it hit screens 23 years ago.

The Welsh actor, who also appeared in British comedies such as After Life, Miranda and Little Britain, had shared a photo of himself in hospital in February 2022 and told his fans that he was suffering ‘bad times’. He sadly never recovered from ‘ill health’.

Despite the enormous success of The Office, MacIntosh was declared bankrupt in 2016. Big acting roles were limited after this and he went on to find a new source of income, making special videos as Keith on websites such as Cameo during Covid. 

The actor’s talent agency JustRight Management said today: ‘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.

‘Ewen suffered from ill health these past two years and passed peacefully on February 19 from undisclosed causes. 

‘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. Ewen will be so very dearly missed. Godspeed Ewen.’

MacIntosh was being looked after at the Willow Green Care home in Darlington, Country Durham. They offer residential, dementia, nursing and respite care.

His friend Ed Scott, an executive producer, said: ‘Thanks to the incredible care and love provided by the wonderful medical staff and especially the nurses who all loved him when he brought a smile to their days. 

The Office star Ewen MacIntosh suffered 'ill health' for two years before his death. In one iconic scene (above) between Big Keith and Tim Canterbury (played by Martin Freeman), MacIntosh hilariously takes a large, slow bite out of a Scotch egg while Martin Freeman discusses performing a sexual act on himself

The Office star Ewen MacIntosh suffered ‘ill health’ for two years before his death. In one iconic scene (above) between Big Keith and Tim Canterbury (played by Martin Freeman), MacIntosh hilariously takes a large, slow bite out of a Scotch egg while Martin Freeman discusses performing a sexual act on himself

The Office cast are pictured during Series 2. MacIntosh can be seen second from the left in the back row

The Office cast are pictured during Series 2. MacIntosh can be seen second from the left in the back row

MacIntosh was being looked after at the Willow Green Care home (pictured) in Darlington in Country Durham

MacIntosh was being looked after at the Willow Green Care home (pictured) in Darlington in Country Durham

Actor and comedian Ewen MacIntosh, who starred as Keith Bishop in The Office, has died aged 50. He is pictured here during a hilarious scene where he is given an appraisal by David Brent (Ricky Gervais)

Actor and comedian Ewen MacIntosh, who starred as Keith Bishop in The Office, has died aged 50. He is pictured here during a hilarious scene where he is given an appraisal by David Brent (Ricky Gervais)

His cause of death has not been confirmed but friends hailed the 'empathy and incredible care' of medical staff and nurses. MacIntosh is pictured here in August 2017

His cause of death has not been confirmed but friends hailed the ’empathy and incredible care’ of medical staff and nurses. MacIntosh is pictured here in August 2017

In 2022, The Office star was rushed to hospital and said he was suffering 'bad times'. He sadly never recovered

In 2022, The Office star was rushed to hospital and said he was suffering ‘bad times’. He sadly never recovered

It was Gervais who led the tributes this morning, posting on X: '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.'

It was Gervais who led the tributes this morning, posting on X: ‘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.’

Gervais also shared this hilarious sketch from the sitcom and penned: 'A day without laughter is a day wasted.'

Gervais also shared this hilarious sketch from the sitcom and penned: ‘A day without laughter is a day wasted.’

‘I saw first hand the empathy and incredible care they gave him was just so reassuring during the toughest of times and am forever grateful to them all.’

JustRight Management added: ‘His family thank all who supported him, especially Willow Green Care Home.’

The care home says on its website that it ‘aims to ensure that our residents enjoy a happy, comfortable and safe environment where independence and personal needs are always considered by compassionate and highly trained staff’. 

MacIntosh, who is survived by his parents and brother, is not believed to have been married or had children. 

Gervais led the tributes this morning, writing on X/Twitter: ‘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.’

Meanwhile Mr Scott, the CEO of Dodged A Bullet Music, said he was ‘completely devastated’ by the loss of his ‘very good friend’, adding: ‘He may have had a famous face known by millions as Keith from The Office but the person inside is what I will most remember.’

He continued: ‘Ewen was so full of empathy, kindness, and integrity and above all a really good man.

‘Sending love to his parents Sara and Ewen Sr, his brother Colin and his family, as well as his many friends and fans.’ 

MacIntosh appeared in The Office from its first series in 2001, playing the role of an accountant with a passion for Scotch eggs. 

In one iconic scene from the show between Big Keith and Tim Canterbury (played by Martin Freeman), MacIntosh hilariously takes a large, slow bite out of a Scotch egg while Freeman discusses performing a sexual act on himself. 

In an interview with Vice in 2021, MacIntosh joked that he had no idea why Scotch eggs were chosen as his signature food and revealed the difficulties he and Freeman faced filming the scene.

‘My first scene with Martin [Freeman], where I eat the Scotch egg – we had trouble doing that for some reason. It took ages to get that done. I got through a lot of Scotch eggs. I wasn’t told about it. The props guy nipped out and bought them last minute,’ he said. 

As fans of The Office woke up to the devastating news, many have pledged to have a Scotch egg in the late actor’s honour. 

MacIntosh will also be remembered for a famous scene in which he is given an appraisal by office manager David Brent (Ricky Gervais). 

As Brent lists off Keith’s strengths and weaknesses, MacIntosh chews his gum and responds ‘don’t know’ to everything he is quizzed on. 

Tributes have poured in to the actor, who was best known for his role in Ricky Gervais ' hit sitcom

 Tributes have poured in to the actor, who was best known for his role in Ricky Gervais ‘ hit sitcom

Ewen MacIntosh as Keith Bishop (seen here dressed up as Ali G) in series two of the comedy sitcom 'The Office'

Ewen MacIntosh as Keith Bishop (seen here dressed up as Ali G) in series two of the comedy sitcom ‘The Office’

Confirming the tragic news, his friend Ed Scott wrote: 'I am completely devastated by the loss of my very good friend Ewen MacIntosh.'

Confirming the tragic news, his friend Ed Scott wrote: ‘I am completely devastated by the loss of my very good friend Ewen MacIntosh.’

Ewen Macintosh at the premiere for "David Brent: Life On The Road" at Odeon Leicester Square on August 10, 2016. He is holding up a Scotch egg

Ewen Macintosh at the premiere for ‘David Brent: Life On The Road’ at Odeon Leicester Square on August 10, 2016. He is holding up a Scotch egg

MacIntosh also appeared in British comedy Little Britain

MacIntosh also appeared in British comedy Little Britain

And he was also given a kiss by Miranda Hart on her comedy show

And he was also given a kiss by Miranda Hart on her comedy show

Ewen MacIntosh as Keith Bishop, DJing at the Wernham Hogg Christmas Party, in The Office

Ewen MacIntosh as Keith Bishop, DJing at the Wernham Hogg Christmas Party, in The Office

Ewen MacIntosh and Joel Beckett are pictured on an episode of 'The Comedy Years'

Ewen MacIntosh and Joel Beckett are pictured on an episode of ‘The Comedy Years’

Ewen McIntosh is pictured in Murder in Suburbia in 2004 with Lisa Faulkner and Caroline Catz

Ewen McIntosh is pictured in Murder in Suburbia in 2004 with Lisa Faulkner and Caroline Catz

‘Big Keith’ had a monotone answerphone message and wanted to become DJ over being an accountant. Among his most memorable moments was when he dressed up as Ali G for Red Nose Day.

Despite a number of staff changes at the fictional Wernham Hogg paper firm, ‘Keith’ remained in the series until its last episode in 2003.

Out Of Office, The Office podcast, also said MacIntosh would ‘always be fondly remembered firstly as a great guy, but also as a key part of the greatest British sitcom of all time. An excellent legacy to leave. RIP.’ 

As well as The Office, MacIntosh also partnered back up with Gervais when he starred in the final series of After Life as ‘Buffet Man’ – a bloke who had been barred from an all-you-can-eat restaurant. 

MacIntosh also featured in sitcoms Lead Balloon and Mongrels, while he had a small role in Yorgos Lanthimos’s film The Lobster where he played a waiter opposite Colin Farrell and Olivia Colman.

As a comedian, he had a double act with Tim FitzHigham and the pair performed at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 2007. 

One of his final acting credits was when he played Lionel in the British romcom Finding Fatimah.  

But it was Keith that MacIntosh will be best remembered for. He admitted in the Vice interview that people would often accidentally call him Keith instead of Ewen – even on sets.

MacIntosh also said he ‘can’t really complain’ about the popularity he gained from playing Keith as ‘it’s made me money’. The actor would regularly send videos as Keith on the app Cameo.

Speaking about the demand on Cameo, MacIntosh said at the time: ‘People always want a message from Keith, never from me. He’s still getting me work, which is quite amazing when you think about it. When the lockdowns started, I was doing about 30 a week. Now it’s down to maybe 10 or 20.’ 

Ewen MacIntosh attends the Legends of Football fundraiser at The Grosvenor House Hotel on October 2, 2017 i

Ewen MacIntosh attends the Legends of Football fundraiser at The Grosvenor House Hotel on October 2, 2017 i

Ewen MacIntosh and actor Giles Vickers-Jones at the Ice Bar in London in January 2007

Ewen MacIntosh and actor Giles Vickers-Jones at the Ice Bar in London in January 2007

TV channel Gold said: ‘We loved him as Keith in The Office and were lucky enough to work with him over the years on the channel. Our thoughts go out to his family and friends at such a difficult time.’ 

Comedy producer Gina Lyons wrote: ‘Heartbroken to hear a very special friend Ewen MacIntosh has passed away. He was such an incredibly kind and funny person. Eternally loved.’

Following his death, tributes poured in from social media users, with many sharing his hilarious Scotch egg scene with Freeman.

One user posted: ‘Really sad to hear about Ewen Macintosh RIP. He was so brilliant in The Office as the scotch egg eating DJ accountant.’

Another wrote: ‘Terrible news about Ewen MacIntosh, aka Big Keith from The Office. He turned what could have been a nothing role into something truly iconic, one of the great comedy performances. RIP.’

A third said: ‘How incredibly sad. So many iconic moments in The Office. I only ever heard lovely things about him from people who had worked with him.’

And a fourth, sharing a clip of the Appraisals episode, posted: ‘Sad to hear the news about Ewen MacIntosh – thanks to him for one of the best scenes from the UK Office. Never gets old.’

Others vowed to have a Scotch egg in MacIntosh’s honour. One wrote: ‘Rip Ewen MacIntosh aka Big Keith. I’m going to dress up as Ali G, have a Scotch egg, rewatch The Office as a tribute.’

Another wrote: ‘I’ll have a Scotch egg later for Big Keith.’ 

A third shared: ‘Ah man this is sad. Saw Ewen live supporting Ricky Gervais and he was extremely funny and entertaining with his dry and dead pan humour. Rip Keith mate. I’ll have a Scotch egg for you.’ 



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