Michael Bilton

Last updated 09 January 2020

Michael Bilton (1919-1993)
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Michael Bilton

Born: Sunday 14th December 1919
Died: Friday 5th November 1993 (age: 73)


Michael Bilton was an English actor best known for his roles in the British television sitcoms To the Manor Born (playing the gardener and sometime butler Ned) and Waiting for God (playing Basil, a septuagenarian satyr).

He featured in the Doctor Who stories The Massacre of St Bartholomew's EvePyramids of Mars and The Deadly Assassin

He attended Hymers CollegeHull. In the Second World War he was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant and was wounded at the Battle of El Alamein. After his recovery he began his acting career in repertory theatre.

He had a strong comedic bent and featured in Keeping Up AppearancesOne Foot in the Grave and Grace and Favour (1992). He also appeared in Pennies From HeavenThe SaintThe AvengersThe PrisonerQuatermass II, and The Champions. His film appearances included A Taste of HoneyFrenzy and The Fourth Protocol.

Bilton appeared in a well-remembered Yellow Pages television commercial as an elderly gardener receiving a sit-on lawnmower from a couple with a large rear garden. The male half of the couple was played by David Hargreaves, who also appeared in the BBC drama series Juliet Bravo.

Bilton's final role was that of Basil Makepeace in the BBC Sitcom Waiting for God, when filming began in 1990 he was already aged 71. Basil grew in importance throughout the first four series eventually becoming the main supporting character. His final appearance was in the last episode of Series 4. He died shortly after completing filming.

In the Christmas episode 1993, his absence was explained by his character having gone on an "Icelandic wife-swapping cruise" and he is not mentioned again. The character of Basil was "replaced" by Jamie Edwards, Jane's spirited Irish grandfather, who was played by Paddy Ward.

Bilton died in BerkhamstedHertfordshire.

Biography from the Wikipedia article, licensed under CC-BY-SA