Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

The Office: Who Is Ewen MacIntosh's Keith Bishop & Who Played The U.S. Version?

On February 21, the public learned that actor Ewen MacIntosh from "The Office" died at the age of 50. On the original British version of the sitcom, he played a character named Keith Bishop.

Keith is a member of the accounting team at General Manager David Brent's (Ricky Gervais) branch of Wernham Hogg. Fans of the American version of "The Office" will recognize many of Keith's defining qualities in Kevin Malone (Brian Baumgartner), down to Kevin also being an accountant. Beyond a very general physical resemblance to one another, a key character trait Kevin inherited from Keith is his brand of intelligence. Keith, like Kevin, is often the office dunce, failing at basic tasks and lacking the ability to understand that he's unusual. 

Perhaps the biggest differentiator between the two characters is that Keith is apathetic, whereas Kevin attempts to be more of a people pleaser. Keith is openly disinterested in his job, wishing he was a DJ instead. While Kevin doesn't have this same career aspiration, he inherited Keith's musical chops, playing the drums in a Season 8 episode. Kevin does not, however, share Keith's affinity for scotch eggs as an everyday snack.

Ewen MacIntosh's success as Keith Bishop complicated his career after The Office

In 2021, about 18 years after the conclusion of the original "Office," Ewen MacIntosh spoke with Vice about playing Keith Bishop. Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant's influential series genuinely changed the actor's life. Before he landed his role as Keith, he was working an office job, and his popularity on the sitcom allowed him to transition to acting full-time.

That said, MacIntosh became so closely associated with Keith that he recounted how even his co-stars on unrelated productions would inadvertently call him by the name of his "Office" character rather than his own. This inextricable link to Keith extends to how he interacts with fans, too. "I do these video messages [on Cameo] now, which are great fun," he continued. "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."

While on one hand, MacIntosh's acting career grew considerably thanks to his iconic role, he also never quite escaped the shadow of the part. Of course, this is common for actors behind some of TV's most classic characters, including Kevin Malone actor Brian Baumgartner. Nevertheless, MacIntosh ultimately appreciated this particular facet of his fame. "I feel you come to terms with it, and you accept it," he said. "You can actually be quite happy and proud that you're associated with something that's made a lot of people happy."