Hapless Manuel won Andrew Sachs a place in everyone's hearts
Andrew Sachs, a German-born British actor, was famous for his role as the bungling Spanish waiter Manuel in the hugely popular TV series Fawlty Towers.
But his repertoire spread far beyond that iconic comic figure, including playing roles such as Dr Watson in a Sherlock Holmes series and Jeeves in PG Wodehouse’s The Code Of The Woosters, both of them radio adaptations.
Andreas Siegfried Sachs was born in Berlin on April 7, 1930. When he was eight, his family moved to England to escape the Nazi persecution of Jews.
He shot to fame in his role of Manuel in the comedy series which ran from 1975 to 1979. It was a part in which he was constantly being bullied and harangued by the hotel proprietor, played by John Cleese.
Sometimes he complained, although good-naturedly, that Cleese’s “bullying” was so robust that Sachs was more than once in pain.
It is a testament to the show that it was voted number one in the British Film Institute’s 100 Greatest Television Programmes in 2000 – despite the fact it ran for just 12 episodes and took three months to film.
Sachs said he had tried to convince Cleese to rewrite Manuel as a German waiter, playing to Sachs’ skills as a native German speaker. But the suggestion was dismissed – to award-winning effect.
From 1984 to 1986, Sachs starred as Father Brown in a BBC radio series based on the stories of GK Chesterton. He also appeared in numerous children’s TV shows, including William’s Wish Wellingtons and Starhill Ponies.
Sachs was also a narrator on many television documentaries and radio productions. His narrations on audio books included CS Lewis’s Narnia series and Alexander McCall Smith’s first online book, Corduroy Mansions. Sachs also was the narrator for Peter Kay’s That Peter Kay Thing.
But so popular was his part in Fawlty Towers, that he released no fewer than four singles as Manuel, including Manuel’s Good Food Guide.
In 1981 “Manuel” released a cover version of Joe Dolce’s UK Number One, Shaddap You Face, with Waiter, There’s A Flea In My Soup on the B side.
In October, 2008, Sachs was at the centre of a storm in which the comedian Russell Brand and TV presenter Jonathan Ross left obscene and profane messages on his answer-phone, and joked on air.
They suggested that Brand had had physical relations with Sachs’s grand-daughter and the comedian joked that Sachs might kill himself as a result.
More than 500 people protested to the BBC which was forced to apologise to Sachs for these “unacceptable and offensive” remarks.
Sachs’ public and television appearances waned and it was later revealed he spent his last four years living with vascular dementia.
He leaves a wife, Melody, who cared for him throughout his illness, and three children.