Maid Marian star Howard ‘Lew’ Lewis dies in Edinburgh hospital

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THE former wife of comic actor Howard “Lew” Lewis has paid tribute to the fun-loving star who brought laughter to millions.

Anna Burke spoke of her family’s heartbreak after Lew - best known for roles in Maid Marian and Her Merry Men and Brush Strokes - died at the weekend in a Liberton hospital.

Lew moved to Edinburgh from Surrey two years ago to live with step-daughter Debora.

“He wasn’t just a funny guy on TV - he was a great person,” Anna, 60, told the Evening News from her adopted home in Indianapolis, USA.

Lew’s unlikely first job was as a computer operator in the RAF and he only got into acting later in life after a chance encounter.

“He was at a party and he ate all the food when a director asked him if he’d ever thought about acting,” said Anna.

“Lew said ‘no’ but the guy called him within a week and offered him a job at the Old Vic.”

The couple met on the set of hit children’s sitcom Maid Marian in 1988 when Anna, who grew up in Old Dalkeith Road, was helping out with catering. They hit if off immediately.

“He was as mad as a brush, there wasn’t a bad bone in his body,” said Anna of Lew, who played Rabies in the show.

“The first thing he said to me was ‘am I too late for breakfast’ - I told him if he spoke to me nicely, I’d make him some.”

Married in 1990, Lew’s best man was flatmate Ken Morley, who played Reg Holdsworth in Coronation Street.

The couple divorced in 2007 after the strain of travelling to a horse stables Anna set-up in Aviemore took its toll - but the couple remained the best of friends.

Lew moved in with Debora in the Pleasance after battling long-term health issues - including a stroke and losing a leg to diabetes in 2011.

Mother-of-two Debora, 40, has been left “heartbroken” by the loss of Lew who “loved her to bits” and always considered his own daughter, said Anna.

Following his death, aged 76, on Saturday at Ellen’s Glen House the family were sent condolences from Time Bandits actor Mike Edmonds and writer Mark Billingham.

Anna last saw Lew during a two-week visit last September - perking him up with a pack of his beloved pork pies. “We’d pick up the thread like we’d never been away,” she said.

andy.shipley@jpress.co.uk