Andrew Sachs's son reveals his father did not recognise Fawlty Towers while battling dementia

The son of Andrew Sachs has revealed his father did not recognise Fawlty Towers in his final months before he died.

Andrew was buried on Thursday after battling vascular dementia for four years. The German-born performer died aged 86 at a care home on November 23.

His son, John Sachs, told Radio 4′s Today programme: “Vascular dementia is a terrible thing for an actor because you lose your voice, you lose movement and they even tried playing Fawlty Towers to him but he didn’t even recognise it, so it is a terrible change.”

(Barry Batchelor/PA)

Sachs also revealed his father used Manuel’s moustache to hide behind.

“I think he stuck that big moustache on because he didn’t want to be recognised.

“(He) tried to make it even bigger but John (Cleese) wouldn’t have it. I think he would have a whole big furry thing across his face.

“Honestly, he didn’t seek the limelight at all, just enjoyed the craft.”

Asked if Andrew considered the role as the standout of his career, his son said: “I don’t think he ever thought that as anything particularly special. I guess we did.

“He wasn’t even sure if John had written him into the next series because it was a two-part, so that’s how much regard he had for it really, but of course he loved doing it and liked the royalties.

“He brought a certain subtlety to it.”

(Ian West/PA)

Also appearing on the Today show, John, 77, the co-creator of the 1970s sitcom, said he was in “a little bit of shock” from the news as he paid tribute to the “wonderful” actor, who he said perfectly portrayed the hapless Manuel.

He said acting with Andrew was “like playing tennis with someone who is exactly as good as you are”.

(Ian West/PA)

“Sometimes he wins and sometimes you win but somehow there’s a rapport and it comes from the very deepest part of ourselves. You can work on it, but in our case we never had to work on it, it all happened so easily.”

John added that Andrew “turned into a completely different human being” when wearing his familiar Manuel moustache.

Asked of his favourite scene with Andrew in Fawlty Towers, John told Today it had been The Kipper And The Corpse – episode four of the second series of the hit comedy.

(PA)

“I think that was some of our very best physical comedy and working out all that stuff like getting the body into the basket and getting it out again I think that was so much fun.

“Occasionally you come across someone who loves physical comedy and although he was such a quiet demeanour, Andy absolutely loved it.

“He was wonderful.”

(Taylor Herring/PA)

John said he last saw Andrew “eight or nine months ago” when they were being photographed together.

He said he realised then he “wasn’t totally present” but added the news of his death was “a little bit of a shock”.

“Although I knew his memory was not so good, despite that he was very special.”

Andrew had been a resident at Denville Hall, a private care home in Northwood, west London. Staff said on Thursday night they were unable to talk about his death.

 

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