Michael Bilton

Michael Bilton (14 December 1919 – 5 November 1993) 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 attended Hymers College, Hull. 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 Appearances, One Foot in the Grave and Grace and Favour (1992). He also appeared in Pennies From Heaven, The Saint, The Avengers, The Prisoner, Quatermass II and The Champions, He also appeared as the doorman at a hotel in Terry and June. He also featured in the Doctor Who stories The Massacre of St Bartholomew’s Eve, Pyramids of Mars and The Deadly Assassin. He also appeared as the butler Stevens in “The Adventure of Shoscombe Olde Place” episode of The Case-Book of Sherlock Holmes; also notable in the cast was Jude Law as an aspiring jockey. Bilton’s film appearances included A Taste of Honey (1961), The Thirty Nine Steps (1978) and The Fourth Protocol (1987), as Kim Philby.

But his most successful television work was as the woman-chasing Basil in three series of Waiting for God, the sitcom set in a retirement home, and as the gardener in a Yellow Pages commercial, going about his tasks with a battered lawn-mower and being called over by his employers to be told of its new replacement just when he thought he himself was about to be pensioned off.

Bilton died on 5 November 1993 in Berkhamsted, Hertfordshire, aged 73.

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