Original The Office Star Dead At 50

By Jason Collins | Published

  • A star of the original UK version of The Office has passed away at the age of 50.
  • Ewen MacIntosh portrayed Big Keith in The Office.
  • The Office lead Ricky Gervaise and other actors mourn the death of their co-star.

Actor and comedian Ewen MacIntosh, best known for his portrayal of Big Keith in the original British mockumentary television sitcom The Office, has died at the age of 50. The Office co-creator Ricky Gervais paid tribute to Ewen MacIntosh on social media, calling the late actor “An absolute original.” Chelle Just, from Just Right Management, stated that the actor had suffered from ill health for the past two years. He passed from undisclosed causes.

Ewen MacIntosh As Big Keith

Ewen MacIntosh’s big break in television came when he was cast as a recurring character, a deadpan accountant, Big Keith, in the original The Office show. The mockumentary followed staff at the fictional paper company Wernham Hogg in Slough and made a household name for its creators, Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant. It also made Keith Bishop into a fan-favorite character. The series was so successful that it spawned a smash-hit American version, which catapulted Steve Carell and John Krasinski to fame.

Keith Becomes A Fan-Favorite

The character Ewen MacIntosh portrayed, Big Keith, particularly shone during The Office Season 2 episode titled “Appraisals,” in which the office manager David Brent—portrayed by Gervais—has Keith make a list of his strengths and weaknesses. Chewing gum and looking bored as he always does, Keith actually lists accounts as his strength and eczema as his weakness while responding to all other questions with “don’t know.” However, according to Stephen Merchant, Ewen MacIntosh’s role wasn’t as prominent initially.

As it turns out, the actor was so funny on-set, prompting showrunners to start writing more and more material with him, so he eventually became both the on-set and fan-favorite character of The Office. Merchant also added that Ewen MacIntosh’s delivery and timing were so perfect that he was able to steal whole scenes from Gervais and Martin Freeman, which only attest to his comedic greatness.

The Story Behind The Iconic Scene

Speaking of the aforementioned appraisal scene, Merchant added that the whole scene was based on a real BBC form they found in the building, and Keith embodied a personality type that isn’t much bothered by and doesn’t want to engage with the bureaucratic process. Ewen MacIntosh’s performance added an extra dimension to the whole scene, providing it with plenty of comedic value. So, it’s really easy to see that MacIntosh’s passing presents a significant loss to the entertainment industry.

Life After The Office

Besides appearing in the aforementioned releases, Ewen MacIntosh also formed a double act with Tim FitzHigham, with the duo performing at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 2007. In 2009, MacIntosh and several other celebrities appeared in a charity music video, “Driving Home for Christmas” by Chris Rea, and he performed at a West End show, Geek! A New Musical in 2013. Surely, the list of his appearances, performances, and credits goes on, only attesting to the magnitude of his talent and comedic prowess.

Ricky Gervais Responds

Ewen MacIntosh’s death prompted a tribute downpour from nearly the entire industry, with his colleagues from The Office, along with other artists and performers and entire television networks, paying their respects over social media. The cause of death wasn’t confirmed; there would be a private cremation for family and close friends and a celebratory memorial service later in the year.