British actor Stephen Lewis has died at the age of 88.
Lewis, who made a name for himself in the 1970’s for playing the character Inspector Cyril “Blakey” Blake in the LWT sitcom On the Buses, died at 1:50 a.m. on Wednesday, August 12 while sleeping at the Cambridge Nursing Home in Wanstead, east London, where he had been residing.
Stephen’s nephew, Peter Lewis, announced that his uncle had passed away, also noting that he had been suffering from arthritis, which caused severe pain in his knees and legs, and prostate cancer. Although Stephen’s health had been declining over the past several years, Peter said he died “quite peacefully.”
“He 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,” Peter said.
Despite his illnesses, Lewis always seemed upbeat and found numerous ways to entertain his fellow residents in the nursing home, including his 84-year-old sister Connie Lewis.
“They [Stephen and Connie] looked after each other,” Peter said.
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“He was always singing and joking. We just want people to remember him,” Peter’s daughter Rebecca said, according to the Befast Telegraph. She also added that her great-uncle was “in high spirits” up until his death, and had been living in the nursing home for a little over three years. Rashid Ebrahimkhan, the manager of Cambridge Nursing Home, also confirmed that Lewis maintained his sense of humor after arriving at the residential home, walking around saying some of his famous lines from On the Buses: “I’ll get you for this Butler” and “Get these buses out Butler.”
“He was still quite funny,” Ebrahimkhan said of the actor. “He still had his sense of humor, very much so, like he was on On The Buses. He had the sense of humor until the last.”
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According to The Scotsman, Lewis never intended on becoming an actor. In fact, he was very content working as a merchant seaman. When he was on shore, he would frequently stop at Joan Littlewood’s Theatre Workshop company, which put on plays about working class people. Lewis later auditioned for one of the plays, and landed the role. He made his debut as an actor in 1958 in Brendan Behan’s The Hostage.
In 1969, he landed the role of Blakey in the series On the Buses, which would run for 74 episodes. Between 1988 and 2007, Stephen appeared in 135 episodes of the sitcom Last of the Summer Wine.
Stephen Lewis’ funeral will take place on Tuesday, August 25 at Our Lady Of Lourdes Church in Wanstead, east London.
[Photo by Wesley/Getty Images]