British actor Stephen Lewis, who starred in the smash hit On the Buses, died this week in the Cambridge Nursing Home, in Wanstead, east London. Stephen Lewis was 88-years-old.
The actor’s family confirmed to the Mirror that Lewis has died, saying his end was “peaceful” and that Stephen was “in high spirits” up until his death, “always singing and joking,” his niece Rebecca Lewis said.
The family also announced the news on Twitter, sharing a photo of Mr. Lewis and writing, “Sadly my uncle ‘Blakey’ Stephen Lewis passed away yesterday. Very sad time for family.”
Family members also noted that Stephen had been in the nursing home for around three years, reports BBC News.
Mr. Lewis was born in Poplar in east London and had a long and cherished career as an actor. He starred in the box office hit On the Buses, in which Stephen played Inspector Cyril “Blakey” Blake, “the arch enemy of conductors played by Reg Varney and Bob Grant,” reports the Mirror. The movie was so popular that it outperformed the classic James Bond hit Diamonds Are Forever.
Blakey’s popular catch phrase, “I hate you, Butler,” uttered by Mr. Lewis throughout On the Buses, was a highlight of the film, according to BBC News. Stephen was also well known for is role as Clem “Smiler” Hemmingway in Last of Summer Wine, the longest-running British sitcom, and, according to the Mirror, Harry Lambert in the BBC’s Oh, Doctor Beeching!
Towards the end, although his spirits were light, Mr. Lewis began suffering health issues. Peter Lewis, nephew of Stephen Lewis, told the Press Association that his uncle “had terrible arthritis in one knee which really badly affected him, and many years ago he had prostate cancer – and whether that had come back we don’t know.” Stephen Lewis enjoyed the last few years of his life, however, spending time with his sister, who was in the same nursing home.
Stephen and his sister “looked after each other,” Peter Lewis told reporters, mentioning that he will remember his uncle as “a funny man.”
Another family member said, “We just want people to remember [Stephen Lewis].”
The staff at the nursing home told BBC News that Stephen Lewis “was still quite funny. He still had his sense of humor… like he was on On the Buses,” and would amuse the staff with his famous lines from On the Buses, “I’ll get you for this Butler” and “Get these buses out Butler.”
[Image from Wikimedia]